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Once-beaten East Laurens here for ‘Hall’ game

Looking to rebound from their first loss of the season after an opening four-game winning streak, the East Laurens Falcons will fly into Kelly Memorial Stadium this Friday night in week three of the rigors of the Region 3AA schedule.
On the other hand the 5-1 Gamecocks of SCHS will be looking on Oct. 9 to successfully continue their pursuit of the Jefferson County Warriors.
Kickoff in the annual Hall of Fame Game is scheduled for 7:30.
Though their early schedule was suspect, the Falcons surpassed their win total from the previous two seasons by streaking to a 4-0 start with wins over Taylor County 35-34; Twiggs County 20-13; Jenkins County 36-26; and Stewart County 56-18.
The rebound happened under new coach Buddy Sorrow who is really not new, but lured out of retirement.
Sorrow, former Southeast Bulloch head coach and long-time Effingham County assistant coach, was the Falcon head man from 1994-2002, posting a 56-39 record now improved to 60-40.
In their 53-year history, ELHS is but 205-329-11.
Sorrow owns the lone state playoff win (2000) for the Falcons. They and SCHS were never in the same region in that span.
Friday night the unbeaten, unappreciated (the Falcons were one of 11 unbeaten teams in the state not ranked -- the only in AA) streak came to an abrupt halt.
Hosting a Swainsboro team coming off an upset loss to Harlem, East Laurens allowed the Tigers a 28-6 halftime advantage and a 41-6 fourth quarter advantage before falling 41-12 in the end. The game was never close.
The score from the Swainsboro-East Laurens score may give Gamecock faithful the idea that this week will be an easy win, but don’t tell SCHS head coach Ron Duncan that.
“I guess Swainsboro had a bad night against Harlem,” Duncan said. “You just can’t go around comparing scores. Last year we beat Harlem 53-0. East Laurens could easily have beaten us and then Harlem beat East Laurens. You have to play the game. We just have to keep getting better at what we do.”
On Friday night, Gamecock fans will see a plethora of offenses from the mundane wishbone to the bizarre. Frequently, ELHS will feature a set showing an offensive lineman split wide on each side paired with a slot and a receiver. Presumably, the formation is an attempt to spring star running back Kevin Lovett through an open middle.
“At this point, I have no idea what we will see from East Laurens,” said Duncan. “I’ve watched it, but don’t know what they are thinking. They do a lot so I guess they can go in a numbers of ways.”
Defensively, the Falcons employ the now common four-man front and have yielded a lot of points on the season. Two of their opponents -- Jenkins County and Swainsboro -- have their highest offensive output of the season against East Laurens, while another pair -- Taylor County and Stewart County -- have their second highest offensive output of the season against East Laurens.
The ELHS team’s own production of 32 points per season has been enough to overcome.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks, despite the Jefferson County results, remain third in AA in scoring offense at 40.2 and fourth in defense at 9.5. The SCHS point differential of 30.7 is tops in AA.
Three Rooster backs come in with an average per carry numbers greater than 10 in Malik Prescott at 45-568 (12.6); Armani Bunbury at 35-405 (11.6); and Jermany Hawkins at 36-398 (11.1). Prescott is a possibility to play this week.
Bunbury also has thrown for 533 (24-43-2) yards and 10 TDs with his favorite target being Tyquan Johnson with 13 receptions for 329 yards and six scores.
This series goes back to 1986 with SCHS leading 8-3. Duncan is 3-0, including the 15-14 contest two years ago in East Dublin. The Falcon wins came in 1990 and 1991 when ELHS was having their two best back-to-back years in their history. Greg Mainor’s SCHS troops were the last to lose in 2011’s 24-18 overtime contest in East Dublin.
In preparation for this week’s contest, Duncan also wanted to praise the crowd at the Harlem game and hope for another great crowd this week.
“Thanks to the crowd that showed up in Harlem. Good turnout considering the weather,” he said.