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Panthers jamboree with Goshen, J.F. Shields set for Thursday

The Friday night lights will illuminate Georgiana’s Harmon Field a few months early as the Panthers conclude spring training with a jamboree Thursday night.

The jamboree, originally slated for Saturday, will see Georgiana squaring off with Goshen and J.F. Shields for one half each.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that though competitive spirit is important, all teams are treating the scrimmage as an assessment process.

“Both teams just want to get evaluations of their teams at this period,” Powell said.

“If you come out on top, that’s great.  But it’s all about evaluations.”

This is especially true for the Georgiana Panthers, who face the rather stiff challenge of replacing 10 starting seniors on both sides of the ball.

“We’re dealing with a bunch of kids who are playing fulltime for the first time,” Powell added.

“It’s just about development from now going into next fall.”

The Panthers’ defense will be the one area most affected by the exodus of 2015 graduates, suffering three losses to the secondary, one outside linebacker and one inside linebacker, a nose guard and a defensive end.

Offensively, Powell has found younger talent to fill the void in some, but not all, key areas.

Former running back/receiver Jacquez Payton will be moving to quarterback, and the offensive line returns mostly intact except for the center position.

Luckily, Powell is no stranger to starting over.

“It’s just part of the process,” Powell said.

“In high school, you have a turnover like this all the time, so you have to be ready.  We did play quite a few of these young kids last year, so that experience will help us and help them confidence-wise when they get out there on the field.  But just from a physical standpoint, they’re still maybe a year away from where I would like them to be.”

Powell is looking for two E’s specifically from his players on Thursday night—effort and execution.

“It’s one thing if I have a 150-pound receiver going against the 180-pound linebacker and the linebacker is getting the better of him, but if my kid is fighting his butt off, I can deal with taking that because I understand why,” Powell said.

“Defensively, I just want to see the guys fly to the football and make tackles.  I want to see everybody be excited about playing, running to the football and making plays.”

Kickoff is set for Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m in Georgiana.