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Georgiana looking to go ‘1-0’

Friday will mark a rather momentous occasion for the Georgiana Panthers as the team braces for the incoming Keith Bears in the first round of postseason play.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that he’s hoping to avoid a case of déjà vu from last year’s playoff efforts, but he’s more than confident that this year’s team has what it takes.

“A lot of people here are excited about the chances of, one, being in the playoffs, and two, having the playoff game here at home,” Powell said.

“The kids are excited about it, and we’re looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to work towards the goals we’ve set for ourselves.”

But with that excitement also comes the opportunity for playoff jitters, though Powell also added that his younger players have played with an exceptional amount of poise throughout the season.

“Honestly, I was nervous about that at the start of the year with playing so many young kids,” Powell said.

“But I have to give them credit—they’ve answered the bell every time when they’ve had to.  Any time we got into a tough situation, they’ve played well.  They made mistakes, but they didn’t play to the point that it hurt us.  They played at a high level, and I expect the same thing out of them this Friday night.”

A large portion of the current Panthers roster knows too well how different the regular season is from the playoffs.

It’s less like the 11th game of the year and more like the start of a new season entirely.  The Panthers are treating it as such.

“We talked about how going 9-1 in the regular season was great, but it’s over with,” Powell said.  “Right now, everyone’s record is 0-0, and the only way to go 5-0 is to win the first one.  So we’re going out Friday night and trying to go 1-0.”

The Keith Bears carry an unassuming 4-6 record, but a season that initially looks unremarkable at first glance is deceptive.

The Bears’ schedule was packed with top-tier threats in the form of Class 1A titans Linden and Maplesville.  Making it to the playoffs in such a competitive region is a feat in and of itself.

Powell insists that tenacity isn’t the only thing that makes the Bears a respectable opponent.

“Their players are really good sized, they do a good job of running the football and the kids play hard on defense,” Powell said. “Coach Crum does a good job of putting his kids in a position to make plays for him, and they do that.

“They’re a worthy opponent, and one that we can’t take lightly. Hopefully, these young kids come out and play because they know Keith is a good football team.  They’ve seen how Keith can hurt us if we’re not solid offensively and fundamentally sound defensively, so we’ve just got to go out and do what we’ve got to do to ensure that we’re 1-0 at the end of Friday night.”

The Panthers are set to host the Bears Friday night, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.