Panthers face test in Red Level, homecoming

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last week’s bye was a much-needed reprieve for the Georgiana Panthers, according to Georgiana head coach Ezell Powell.

“It gave us a chance to work on some things, get some kids back healthy and, for those that were suspended, it allowed us to get that stuff behind us, and we’re ready to roll again,” Powell said.

But the entire two weeks weren’t spent preparing for their next opponent, the Red Level Tigers.

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“We had some things that we had to get corrected for us,” Powell continued.

“And with us playing so many younger guys, we continued to rep them throughout practice to develop a little depth.”

The fact that the Panthers didn’t spend the whole of the two-week period preparing for the Tigers is no slight against a deceptively competent Red Level team—quite the contrary, in fact.

Powell said that the dangers of over-coaching might lead to him making adjustments to the original game plan that could ultimately end up confusing his players.

The Red Level Tigers sit at 2-6 on the heels of a tough 8-6 loss to the Kinston Bulldogs last Friday, but Powell said that preparing for a team that is better than their record would indicate is oftentimes the toughest preparation of all.

“When I watched them in the beginning of the year, and I watched them over the past few ball games, I told my team that this is a different team than it was in the first few ball games,” Powell said.

“These guys have a little bit more fight and they’re starting to believe in what they’re doing, so they’re going out there and playing hard. So I told them that we have to be ready to play football because it’s not the same team we played last year.”

To further complicate matters, it’s homecoming week for Georgiana.

Homecoming festivities throughout the week could prove a pitfall for players on any team, but Powell has stressed day-to-day communication that the week could cause them to lose focus and, worse, the game.

The key to combating the many distractions of homecoming week is to focus on the task at hand—getting better on a weekly basis.

And despite the series of unfortunate events that occurred in the Panthers’ match with Greenville—including an injury to standout Jacquez Payton and the two-game suspension of three others—the circumstances hardened Powell’s team into a unit he believes is capable of hanging with the opposition in the postseson.

“The teams that have started to develop that cohesiveness—that confidence in one another—is something that I thought we were starting to do after the second half of that Greenville game when Jacquez went down and there were only so many players there that had to play,” Powell said.

“They know now that their role is a lot more important than they thought it was because they realized that Jacquez could go down at any time. And when he does, we’ve still got to be able to execute our offense.”

The Panthers will face the Tigers in the final region game of the season at home beginning at 7 p.m.