Panthers climb to 4-3, keep playoff hopes alive

Published 11:38 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

The Georgiana Panthers snapped their three-game losing streak with a 35-0 win over the Pleasant Home Eagles, and the win couldn’t have come at a better time.

A well-balanced performance on offense, defense and special teams led to the Panthers improving to 4-3 on the season and, more importantly, breaking even in region play at 2-2.

For Georgiana head coach Ezell Powell, even miserable weather conditions couldn’t impede his team’s progress toward the ultimate goal of a playoff spot.

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“The kids just played hard, bottom line.  They flew around, they did a good job of tackling and when you do stuff like that, it leads to a successful defense,” Powell said.

“It doesn’t get any easier for us, but when we’re doing stuff like that we have a chance at being successful.”

Powell added that the win was more than a confidence boost following a rough three-game stretch—it could just be the spark they need to fan the flames for the remainder of the season.

“To be honest, only time will tell,” Powell said.

“I wanted to get back on the winning track and get a little confidence going into the rest of the season, and we’ll see if this win will spark anything.  And hopefully, we can finish the season strong.”

But making the playoffs is only one part of the goal.

The other is to make it there with all of his players intact.

Jacquez Payton sat the Pleasant Home game out and Powell still has three players sitting out due to a two-game suspension—a sentence that is halfway over—but he hopes to have all of the necessary puzzle pieces back in place to make an end-season push for a playoff spot.

Fortunately, his younger players who stepped into starting positions impressed him with their hard work against Pleasant Home.

“They made some mistakes early in the ball game, but they competed well and they did what I asked of them,” Powell said.

“I was really pleased with them.  It’s like I told them.  It may end up resulting in more playing time for them going forward if they can keep up the same amount of effort.  They were steadily talking about it after the ball game, but it’s like I told them—it’s one day at a time, and one game at a time.”

The gradual approach will serve the Panthers well against next week’s opponent, Kinston.

Powell admits that the big and physical team will be a test similar to the toughest ones they’ve faced this season, but Powell is confident that it’s a challenge his players are more than willing to answer.

“We’ve got to go out and match their physicality and if we can do that, I think we have a chance to come out with another win.  It’s great when you can play them at home and not have to go over to Kinston, so hopefully the fans come out and support us and we put on a good show and get an area win because this determines the number three and number four spots in the playoffs.”

The Panthers face off with Kinston at home Friday.