• 97°

Panthers not taking Squadron for granted

One final obstacle lies in front of the Georgiana Panthers and their best regular season since 1995, and it’s a familiar foe.

The Highland Home Flying Squadron (3-6) had their playoff hopes shattered in a loss to Goshen two weeks ago, but the team also lost its starting quarterback, Chase Mansmann.

Ezell Powell, Georgiana’s head football coach, said that he’s familiar with how losing a starting quarterback can impact the game plan, but he also admits that there’s a silver lining for Highland Home—the element of surprise.

“When you switch quarterbacks like that, you really don’t know what they’re going to do—if they’re going to stick with the same game plan or switch to something to make things easier for the new quarterback,” Powell said.

“We know what they did with the other quarterback, so that’s what we’ve sort of prepared for, but if the game plan is a little different, then that’s going to throw us off and we’re going to have to make quick adjustments in the ball game to be ready for the change.”

Despite the abrupt game plan change, Powell said that the Panthers’ overall goal has not.

“We have goals that we’re still trying to achieve, and a win over Highland Home is still a part of that plan,” Powell said.

“For us, it’s just about understanding the basics of what we do.  If we stick to our keys and understand how we execute our offense and defense, it puts us in a position to be solid no matter what they do.”

Speaking of quarterbacks, the Panthers got a great deal of production out of quarterback JaMichael Stallworth in Friday night’s runaway win over the Red Level Tigers.

The sophomore quarterback, who has played the position intermittently throughout the season, went 13 for 16 and threw for 261 yards and five touchdowns.  Depending on what the defense gives him, Powell might call on him again.

“He did a good job—a great job—of throwing the football, and receivers did a heck of a job of catching it,” Powell said.

“I told him the same thing this week that if the opportunity is there, we’re going to look to do it this week, also.  We’ve worked on it this past summer and you can tell that the time and effort that they’re putting into it is paying off.”

Though a non-region game, Powell said that he wouldn’t be taking a conservative approach with his starters in the final game of the regular season.

His starters wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s business as usual for us because a lot of these kids don’t want to sit down,” Powell said.

“So for me to tell any starter that I’m not playing them this week means I have a fight on my hands.  These kids love to play, and that’s what you want.  No matter who it is, you want them to get out and compete every Friday night.”

The Panthers will be taking the fight to Highland Home Friday night for their final regular season contest.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.