Panthers expect tough fight in Brantley

Published 6:26 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Class 1A Region 2 champion could very well be decided Friday night as the Georgiana Panthers once again travel to Brantley to face the Bulldogs.

With the exception of a narrow one-point loss to the non-region Straughn Tigers, the Brantley Bulldogs have been firing on all cylinders since.

The Bulldogs went on to outscore their next two opponents, Kinston and Pleasant Home, 119-12.  Alongside McKenzie, Georgiana and Brantley round out the only undefeated teams remaining in the region.

But one of the three will receive a loss Friday, and Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that it could be as tough as any game the Panthers are likely to play this year.

“Brantley is good,” Powell said.

“They’re well coached, the kids play really hard and the kids execute what they do well.  The kids know what type of ballgame we’re in for.  We know it’s going to take us four quarters to win the ballgame, and we’ve just got to play well within our scheme and play well on defense.”

According to Powell, the toughest part of beating Brantley is the fact that Brantley expects to win, thanks in part to the large tradition of success the school has enjoyed for decades.

But losing is exactly what the Bulldogs did during last year’s meeting between the two teams.

Things have changed a great deal between the two teams in the year since, but Powell remains hopeful that this year’s crop of Panthers have a shot at an encore performance.

“I think we had a little bit more experience in some key areas last year in the matchup, but I think we matchup well as far as talent goes,” Powell said.

“But it’s just about execution.  Brantley kids have been winning traditionally year-in and year-out for a long time, so their kids expect to win.  We are just now starting to get into that mode, and we’ve just got to continue to expect, believe and go out and execute it, knowing that when we execute, we win.”

Brantley once again has the home field advantage, though it did little to help the Bulldogs last season.

Knowing that it can be done gives the Panthers some confidence heading into hostile territory, but the battle will largely be fought—and likely won—at the line of scrimmage.

“If we’re controlling the line of scrimmage and playing well up front, then I think we have a really good chance of winning the ballgame,” Powell said.

“We have to play well up front on the offensive line, and on the defensive line because they like to throw the football a lot, and if our defensive line can do a good job of getting a pass rush on the quarterback, then that will help us in the secondary.”

The Panthers and Bulldogs will square off Friday in Brantley at 7 p.m.