The Pirates can match their most wins under head coach Sean Pender and capture a share of the region title for the first time since 2009.
But it will require Brunswick High to “finish the mission” and defeat Effingham County in its regular season finale Friday at Glynn County Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Brunswick (6-3, 4-1) enters the game a win away from securing a three-way tie with Richmond Hill and Glynn Academy atop Region 2-6A with just Effingham (3-6, 2-3) standing in the way of a co-championship.
Due to tiebreakers, a three-way tie will still send the Pirates packing and on the road to open the Class 6A playoffs next week, but if the Terrors drop a road game against Statesboro, Brunswick will slide into the No. 2 seed and host its first-round opponent.
Either way, Brunswick still needs to record a win against an Effingham County team that will likely pull out all the stops as it looks to send its longtime coach out with a bang.
“This is Buddy Holder’s last game as a head coach — they’re going to want to go out and play extremely hard,” Pender said. “They’re going to play this game like its the Super Bowl. They have nothing to lose. I keep talking to our kids, keep your cool because if you’re a senior on Effingham, it’s over after tonight.”
Holder will step down from his position at Effingham at the conclusion of the season after more than 20 years with the program. He served as an assistant for 14 seasons before taking over as the Rebels’ head coach in 2013.
Pender is 2-1 all-time against Holder, including 2-0 at Glynn County Stadium with an offense averaging 45 points per game in those two contests.
This season, the Pirates feature a balanced offense that can line up and maul an opposing defense up front or go over their heads if they commit too close to the line of scrimmage.
With 900 yards and nine scores on the season, Khamori Simmons has been the lead back of a run game averaging more than 177 yards per contest on the ground, and quarterback KJ Lee has passed for 1,614 yards and 16 touchdowns to six interceptions.
Tyrease Jones has been Lee’s primary target this year, and he currently ranks first in the classification in receiving touchdowns (11) and third in yards (634). Always a threat to take it the distance, Jones’ 21.1 yards per catch are the most of any Class 6A receiver with at least 30 catches.
The Pirates will be without some key players as they recover from injuries, and others will play sparingly.
On senior night, coming off a strong week of practice in terms of effort and hustle, Pender expects the next man up to be ready.
“Our word of the week was trust — trying to get the guys to trust in one another,” Pender said. “We have several that are out for this week. Some might dress but only play in a sparing role nursing injuries, trying to get healthy.”