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Panthers finally return to G’ana

For the first time since the preseason, the Georgiana Panthers are going to be playing at home, and head coach Shane Smothers says there’s no place like home.

“Everybody’s excited,” he said. “We’re tired of preparing for a road trip on Friday, and everyone’s excited about playing at home.”

The Panthers opened the season on the road against Marengo, followed by trips to J.U. Blacksher and Shelby County.

“It’ll be good for the community, too,” Smothers said. “We’ll have some fans here regardless of how we’re doing, and it’s hard to get out and see us when we’re traveling.”

Despite the final score being a little lopsided in a 41-14 loss to Shelby County, Smothers said it wasn’t a bad game for his team.

“It’s the best game we’ve played as far as executing,” he said. “We still had some mental breakdowns.”

“Several times we had 12 guys on the field, and maybe we had 12 that were excited to play, but I think we were just confused,” Smothers added.

One of the biggest problems Smothers said the team faces is leadership.

“We’re still working on the chemistry and dedication to the program,” he said. “We need consistent leadership, not one-day wonders.”

Injuries are another hurdle the Panthers will have to take on.

Chan Lowe will miss Friday’s game due to an ankle sprain, and fellow lineman Jim Grayson is day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

On the positive side, Rashad Brundidge is getting closer to coming back from a knee injury and may play within a few weeks.

This week the Panthers face the Frisco City Whippets in a region game.

“We are in a must-win situation each week, which adds some pressure,” Smothers said. “I told the kids that when you lose early, you put yourself in the situation where you have to win. Maybe they like pressure, because we’ve got some on us now.”

Focus will be a big point for Georgiana this week – not just on Friday, but during the week leading up to the game.

“The SGA is putting on a dance after the game, and I hope we can focus on the game and not the dance,” Smothers said.

“We’ve got to be ready for Frisco City,” he added. “They’re low in numbers – smaller than us – but they’re very athletic with good team speed. For their numbers, they play extremely hard.”

Kickoff against the Whippets is set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Harmon Field.