Panthers focusing on basics

Published 4:23 pm Friday, August 9, 2013

It’s not athleticism or talent that first-year Georgiana head coach Ezell Powell is looking for this season.

After all, it isn’t something that he finds himself in short supply of.

Instead, discipline is the quality that he most desires and, if this summer’s training regimen is any indication, he’ll have that too before long.

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It’s back to basics for the Panthers, with Powell placing a renewed emphasis on understanding the fundamentals of football.

“For us, we’ve got to be really good at blocking, and we’ve got to get better at tackling,” Powell said. “We have athletic, talented kids, but when it comes to knowledge and fundamental skills of the game we’re not where we should be. And we’re taking our time trying to gain ground on getting an understanding of who we are as a team and what we’re trying to accomplish every time we go out.”

And despite the fact that Powell finds himself in a new position this season with the Panthers, any Georgiana resident would be hard-pressed to call Powell “new” to the area.

As an alumnus of Georgiana School, the transition from Powell’s previous position at McKenzie School wasn’t much of a transition at all.

Instead, he has focused the majority of his energy on working with his players, learning different personalities and their respective skill sets, and attempting to install an entirely new defensive and offensive game plan.

And despite the fact that coaches around the area are working in the 11th hour of the summer season, Powell isn’t trying to do too much too fast.

“The kids have been working hard, and they’ve been lifting and conditioning all summer long to get ahead of the game and do some different things, but we’re just taking it day by day,” Powell said. “It’s a process, and I explained to them that we have to take it one day at a time and get a little bit better each day.”

Because of this slower, more deliberate approach, Powell decided that his players would not compete in any 7-on-7 camps until there was a proper understanding of pass coverages, route recognition and similar skills.

According to Powell, the early frustration from blown assignments and coverages could take a toll on the team morale.

That extra time has been allocated toward the weight room and conditioning.

Instead of focusing on outside opponents, Powell decided that the true opponents his players needed to face were themselves.

“I don’t want to put too much on them to the point that they aren’t gasping the concepts of what we’re trying to do and the direction we’re trying to go,” Powell said. “We’re going to take time this summer to just really focus on fundamentals, and becoming good at being us.”

The Panthers kick off the 2013 season at Ariton High School on August 30.