Panthers face Pleasant Home without three starters
For Georgiana head football Coach Ezell Powell, Friday night’s loss to the Greenville Tigers was more costly than a non-region game had any right to be.
Riding high on two consecutive touchdowns and the most momentum the Panthers had built all night, a select few Georgiana players found themselves in a post-play scuffle with a handful of Greenville players.
Though there was no actual violence to speak of among the players, three Georgiana players left the sideline in a fashion that the referees deemed unacceptable, earning them a two-game suspension in the process.
“All three of them were starters, so we’ve just got to get young kids ready to play football and go out and compete,” Powell said.
Powell added that the strict nature of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) rules probably stemmed from 2009 riot that occurred between Carver High School and Valley High School’s players and fans, which resulted in multiple ejections and even arrests.
And though the two situations are night and day, the consequences for the Panthers team are nearly the same.
“Our situation was just the defense was running on the field and guys sort of went toward the pile instead of stopping right where they were,” Powell said.
“It’s one of those learning experiences for them, and they’ll know better next time, for sure.”
The ejections leave Powell tasked with filling some rather large shoes, but he’s no stranger to asking younger players to step up to the plate. It was a tactic he employed often with last year’s inexperienced team.
Friday brings a new challenge in the 0-5 Pleasant Home Eagles, a team that has had its own share of struggles in the 2014 season thus far.
But Powell urged his players to recall similar situations that they’ve been in where they lost to teams that “weren’t supposed to beat them.”
“In my second year of coaching, we played against a team in the first round of the playoffs that got in because another team played ineligible players, and they were 1-9 going in,” Powell said.
“And we sort of overlooked that team and that team beat us 19-21. I just do stuff like that to try to keep them focused and to understand that the game is played every week for a reason and anybody can get beat at any given time if you don’t take them seriously.”
And while Powell aims to keep things more simple this week than they’ve been in the past five, the biggest priority is making sure that the struggles of the past three weeks haven’t blocked the bigger picture—a spot in the playoffs is up for grabs.
“They know we can still make the playoffs if we win two of the next three area games, so that’s what we’re after right now,” Powell added.
“We’re trying to go out and continue to improve on what we’ve been doing and get things back on the winning track.”
The Panthers travel to Pleasant Home for region play Friday at 7 p.m.
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