• 77°

Panthers hone offensive weapons in Flomaton 7-on-7

This year’s Georgiana Panthers team lost several offensive weapons to the 2016 graduating class, including Jacquez Payton, Geron Feagin and Damarcus Rich.  But recent results of the Flomaton-hosted 7-on-7 competition bore fruit for the Panthers in the form of several up-and-coming receivers.

This year’s Georgiana Panthers team lost several offensive weapons to the 2016 graduating class, including Jacquez Payton, Geron Feagin and Damarcus Rich. But recent results of the Flomaton-hosted 7-on-7 competition bore fruit for the Panthers in the form of several up-and-coming receivers.

The Georgiana Panthers took to the gridiron against another opponent for the first time since May as the team visited the Class 3A Flomaton Hurricanes for a 7-on-7 competition.

According to Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell, the meeting was a long time in the making.

“Their coach, Coach Vickery, had been contacting me about playing for the past couple of years during the regular season, but we always had conflicts,” Powell said.

“And then he invited me to his 7-on-7 last year, and I couldn’t go.  So this year we made sure that we touched bases with each other early to get squared away, and get down there and play.”

The effort was well worth it, based on the Panthers’ results.

The team went 2-1 Friday, only losing to the Class 2A St. Lukes Wildcats (whom the Panthers will face this season on Sept. 23), and Powell’s overall impression was a positive one.

“It was something we wanted to do to try to get some reps for the skill guys that we have, because after losing our best receivers last year, we just wanted to see what we have right now and how they’re going to be able to help us,” Powell said.

Typically, 7-on-7 results are taken with a grain of salt for high school coaches.  After all, the competitions only provide a fraction of a look at a complete team.  But for Powel and the Panthers, who lost their three best receivers to 2016’s graduating class—Jacquez Payton, Damarcus Rich and Geron Feagin—the skills challenge was an incredibly useful early barometer of the Panthers’ offensive prowess.

“When you factor in losing those guys, and now having to replace all three of them, we’re trying to see how these young guys perform under pressure against other guys,” Powell added. “Sometimes, we do well against each other because they’re the ones that would be on defense, so you’re not 100-percent sure how good we look against competition.  So getting out against others and watching them run routes, make plays and catch the ball, you learn who you can count on and who will be your go-to guys.”

This year, three equally promising receivers have stepped up to the sizable challenge.

“We have junior Jamarcus Sims, who I think we’ll count on heavily to be our go-to guy at receiver,” Powell said. “Christian Williams, who will be a 10th grader this year, has explosive ability.  He’s sort of like Jacquez in that if you put in space, he can do great things with the ball.  And we had a new kid come in, Tori Rudolph, that’s going to come in and play tight end and H-back for us.  He’s got a big frame and good, soft hands, and he catches the ball well and runs well after the catch.

“We have a couple of others that show flashes of really good things, but I know we’ll count on those three heavily and we’ll see if the others will emerge from there.”

The Panthers will travel to Luverne for their next 7-on-7 competition Monday.