Panthers to face a seasoned Kinston team Friday

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Georgiana Panthers will face their second region game in as many weeks in their first pair of consecutive face-offs with Bulldogs, with Kinston as this week’s opponent.

The Panthers began their regional gauntlet with a convincing 52-0 victory over the Florala Wildcats, though Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell expects a bit more opposition from this week’s opponent, as well as next week’s (Brantley).

Despite that, the win came as a moment of reassurance following a tough Week 2 loss to New Brockton.

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“It’s just one of those things where you’re trying to go out and get better each week” Powell said.  “The kids did what they were capable of doing in that ballgame, so I was pleased with that.  But in order to repeat as region champs, we’ve got to take care of each region game.  We’re just trying to take it one by one, and we’re going to go out Friday night and see if we can get another one.”

Kinston has struggled thus far, though the team has perhaps the toughest three-game stretch of the early season.  The Bulldogs faced a tough Class 2A threat in the St. Lukes Wildcats, followed immediately by their first region game against the rival Bulldogs of Brantley.

Powell said that the pair of losses isn’t necessarily indicative of Kinston’s strength as a team.

“They’ve been tested early on,” Powell said. “They played St. Lukes and they played Brantley, and now they’ve got us behind that.  They’re in the tough part of their schedule, so it’s just one of those things where if we don’t play how we’re supposed to, you can let a team that’s not supposed to beat you to have an opportunity to beat you.  We know that we’ve got to go out and execute, take care of the ball, make tackles on defense and do the little things that it takes to win the ballgame.”

This year’s Kinston team shares more than one similarity with the Panthers.

“They’re based out of a 3-3 stack just like last year, and they get after it in a real tough, fast and physical way defensively,” Powell said.

“They’re a little bit more spread-based this time than they were last year, but they still run the ball right downhill at you; they just play-action and throw a bit more than they’ve done in years past.  They’re playing with a lot of young kids this time, because they were hit hard last year with a big senior group leaving.”

Whether the early-season experience has been a benefit or detriment to Kinston remains to be seen.

“You just never know how it’s going to affect them—that’s the X-factor,” Powell said.

“Is it one of those things where they’ve faced two tough opponents and now they’ve got their legs under them, or did the two losses affect them psychologically and will it prevent them from performing on Friday?  You just never know.  Hopefully, we’re on our game, so that either way it goes we’ll still be in good shape if we’re focused in like we need to be.”

The Panthers travel to Kinston to face the Bulldogs Friday night, with kickoff set at 7 p.m.