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Panthers rebuild after roster shake-up

Georgiana is halfway done laying the groundwork for a successful fall campaign on the gridiron as week two of spring training comes to a close.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that, at least for the next few days, the No. 1 rule of thumb has been to keep things simple.

“For us, it’s just been about executing, and putting young kids in the position that they’re going to be playing in during the fall and putting the base point of our offense,” Powell said.

“And on defense, we’re not trying to do too much because it’s the spring.  We just want to be able to execute on both sides of the ball as we build on that headed into the fall.”

A simple game plan grew a bit more complicated thanks to the departure of one of Georgiana’s most decorated veterans, Cameron Longmire.

The running back and linebacker moved to Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery for his senior year. Longmire was a large part of the Panthers’ success on both sides of the ball, serving as Georgiana’s leading rusher and also being named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s All-State first team for Class 1A; it would be an understatement to say that his presence would be missed.

Fortunately, the Panthers have had some time to prepare.

“I sort of felt that it was coming at the end of the season that there would be a possibility he wouldn’t be back,” Powell said. “The other guys knew that it was coming, too, so they did a really good job in the weight room to get themselves prepared for this season. 

“We’re excited, because we have two running backs who look pretty good right now.  So we’re just going to get out there and compete.”

And compete they will, as Georgiana plans to host a jamboree featuring McKenzie School and Keith High School on Friday, May 5 beginning at 6 p.m.

Each team will face one another for one half, with one exception—McKenzie and Georgiana will have its junior varsity teams squaring off against each other in their upperclassmen’s stead.

“We are region opponents, so instead of us getting out there in the spring and playing, we figured it’d be best to wait until fall,” Powell said. “It’s always one that’s very intense for both sides, so we said we’ll let the young kids compete and have an opportunity to get some extra reps.”

Powell added that the jamboree is a vital measuring stick for tracking the team’s progress over the past couple of weeks.

“As far as what we’re doing with our offense this year, we need to see what it looks like against someone else,” Powell said.

“We get out there and we work against each other, and we can make it look good against the No. 2s who aren’t quite as good as your first group, and you’ll sort of have yourself fooled into thinking you’re really good at it when you may not be.  But when you’re up against someone else who puts their best 11on the field, it’ll give you a chance to see how well you execute.”