Panthers out for revenge against Brantley Bulldogs

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A tough three-week stretch begins for the Georgiana Panthers with one of the best perennial teams around.

The Panthers will hit the road Friday to face the Bulldogs of Brantley for their second, and arguably toughest, region games of the season.

But Ezell Powell, the calm, cool and collected Panthers head coach, said that the best game plan for his team is to proceed in a routine fashion.

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““We try to treat it like we do every other ball game,” Powell said.

“We try to go into it knowing who we’re playing, and that if we make mistakes we’ll end up like a lot of other teams that have faced them—you’ll get beaten pretty badly.  But we understand at the same time that if we can play our game and eliminate mistakes, and do a good job of being disciplined on defense, we can be in the ball game in the fourth quarter.  And at that point, anything can happen.”

Last year’s Panthers team proved capable of hanging with the Bulldogs after commanding a sizeable lead heading into halftime, only to watch it melt away late in the fourth during a miraculous Brantley comeback win.

The memory is still fresh on the minds of returners to this year’s Panthers team, and Powell is hoping to use it as fuel.

“I think it’s going to motivate them a little bit,” Powell said.

“They know that, if they play like they’re supposed to, they can get our there and compete with teams like Brantley and other teams in the area.  I think it does a lot not only for the kids now, but also for the kids in the future.”

Things don’t get much easier for the Panthers throughout the remainder of September, with the rival McKenzie Tigers and the Class 5A Greenville Tigers to follow in the weeks to come.

A win at Brantley could provide a massive momentum shift through the most difficult stretch of the Georgiana schedule.

“I think it would be great for the confidence of the kids, and them believing that what we’ve been preaching since day one is what it takes to be successful,” Powell said.

“It’ll also give a lot of confidence to the young kids coming up in saying that if you do these things, this is what we can do year in and year out here.”

The Bulldogs operate a little differently from 2014’s team, with a larger emphasis on the passing game.

Their stingy defense and explosive offensive playmakers return, however, and Powell said that eliminating the big play is key to staying in the ball game throughout all four quarters.

“That’s sort of been our focus all year long from a defensive standpoint,” Powell said. “We understand that going into this week that if stuff like that happens to us, we’ll be in for a long night.”

The Panthers will face the Bulldogs in Brantley Friday night.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.