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Panthers aim to avoid homecoming distractions against Florala

The Georgiana Panthers will defend home turf in an unusually early homecoming showdown with the Florala Wildcats.

But aside from the glory of winning the homecoming game, the Panthers are more concerned with securing their first region game of the season.

Unfortunately, homecoming week comes with its own set of distractions.

Ezell Powell, Georgiana’s head football coach, said that the schedule left the team with few desirable options for homecoming—it was either the first game of the season, the third or senior night.

“Especially with this being our first region game, but we try not to let the distractions of the week interfere with what we’ve got to get accomplished on Friday night,” Powell said.

The Panthers are aiming their focus on eliminating the penalties that have plagued the team’s first two weeks of play. That means pointing out exactly where mistakes are being made in practice, and drilling the routine into the heads of the less-experienced players.

“Sometimes with young kids with limited playing experience, they’ll be so excited about getting out there and playing that they fail to look at the official and declare that they’re on or off the ball,” Powell said.

“So we’re just trying to get them in those situations and have some coaches be officials, and make sure they’re doing the things that they should be doing Friday night on a daily basis so that we do it not only in practice, but in the ballgame as well.”

This week’s opposition is a sizeable challenge in more ways than one.

“They’re a big football team—they’re big up front,” Powell said.

“And they’ve got a few skill kids that we’ve got to be aware of; their quarterback is very athletic, and he can hurt you with his legs or his arms, so he’s always a threat.  And they play hard on defense.”

Powell added that the key to victory would lie in the Panthers’ ability to execute on offense and defense.

The former hasn’t been a problem thus far, with the Panthers’ offense racking up 48 points in both of its first two games.

Friday also marks the first time that the Panthers’ defense will be in full force.

“One thing that hurt us early is that we had some key players in key positions not playing,” Powell said.

“Due to some stuff off the field, they had to sit out the first couple of ball games.  But getting those guys back and playing in those positions is going to really help us. It gave us a bit of depth and experience for those young guys playing—it’s just that now we’ll get a true chance to see all of the projected starters on the field having an opportunity to play.”

The Panthers aim to defend their home turf against the Wildcats Friday night at 7 p.m.