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Georgiana hosts No. 1 Sweet Water

This Friday night, the Georgiana Panthers get a chance to test themselves against one of the premier 1A teams in the state.

Visiting Harmon Field will be the defending state champion Sweet Water Bulldogs.

“Georgiana has probably never played some with this much hype,” said head coach Shane Smothers.

Sweet Water comes in with a 35-game winning streak and three of the last four 1A state titles.

“They play with heart and dedication, and that’s what we’re trying to instill in our players,” Smothers said. “They’ve been doing that for a long time, and they’re serious about it.”

“As far as Xs and Os, they’re going to run the ball,” he continued. “If they get caught on third down, they have a go-to receiver, and we’ve got to eliminate those third-down receptions.”

Smothers said the key for his team is not being intimidated.

“They haven’t played anyone that hasn’t been intimidated since week one and week two,” he said. “Those teams stood toe-to-toe, and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to be the aggressor, hit them in the mouth, play hard and love each other. If we do that, we’ve got a chance.”

Smothers said that by playing teams like Shelby County earlier in the season, the Panthers have experience facing bigger opponents.

“I tell them to be excited, not scared,” he said. “I look forward to these games.”

The Georgiana coaching staff is also trying to motivate the team after a disappointing loss to McIntosh last week.

“Last Friday was a letdown,” Smothers said. “We’re looking for leaders to give it all they’ve got.”

It’s certainly a David versus Goliath matchup against Sweet Water, but Smothers said the team isn’t practicing that way.

“We’re not practicing to not be embarrassed,” he said. “We’re not practicing to keep it close. We’re practicing to win the sucker.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night in Georgiana.