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Panthers’ win over HHS secures best regular season in 20 years

High school coaches around the nation preach the importance of playing all four quarters, but it turned out Friday that the Georgiana Panthers needed just one.

The high-powered Panthers offense gunned down the Highland Home Flying Squadron by scoring seven touchdowns in seven minutes of play, mounting a 42-8 lead with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The score wouldn’t change in the following 43 minutes.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that it wasn’t that long ago that he was facing the same scenario, only from the other side of the fence.

“I was telling my coaches earlier that I was on that end of the spectrum when I first got here and Highland Home beat me by 50 points my last regular season ball game,” Powell said. “So I knew how those kids and coaches felt to be on that side of it.”

The Panthers were off to the races from the very start, thanks to a run game that proved guaranteed to result in a touchdown.

Despite having developed a much more balanced offense in recent months, the Panthers dominated the scoreboard and time of possession with only two thrown passes on the night.

However, there were still critiques to be made.

“The lone score that we did give up was a kickoff run back for a touchdown,” Powell said. “I was disappointed about that—we let the guy come through and we missed a bunch of tackles and he got off to the races and we didn’t catch him.”

An otherwise flawless game from the Panthers team earned its key players some much-needed rest prior to the postseason, where Georgiana will face a battle-tested Keith team at home Friday.

Powell said that in a season of firsts, securing the first Panthers playoff win in some time remains the most important immediate goal.

“We have a solid football team in Keith coming in here next week that we have to prepare for, and try to get our first playoff win,” Powell said.

“They’re a team that’s been up and down, but to me they’re a solid football team—a team that can beat us if we don’t play.  We’ve got to know that, at this time of the year, if we don’t bring our A-game every week for five weeks, we’ll be going home.”

The key difference for Powell and the Panthers this year, however, is the degree of confidence the team carries when it steps onto the field.

“There is a high expectation to win when we get out on the field,” Powell said. “These young men know that when they play up to their capabilities, it’s really tough for a lot of teams.”

The Panthers will host Keith Friday for the first round of postseason play.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.