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Panthers prevail in spring jamboree

Audiences in Georgiana received a vision of things to come on the gridiron Friday as the Panthers hosted the neighboring McKenzie Tigers and the visiting Keith Bears for a spring jamboree.

The three schools each faced one another for a single half of regulation football—minus special teams—and it was Georgiana who walked away unscathed with a 19-0 victory over Keith and a 20-0 win over McKenzie.

For Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell, all three schools found value in the experience, win or lose.

“We just wanted to get out like the other teams did and see what we were going to look like against someone else,” Powell said.

“All three teams got an opportunity to see that, and to see things that we need to improve upon going into the summer.  It was a simulated scrimmage, but getting quality reps against a decent opponent is what we were after.  And that’s what we got.”The Panthers will have some experience returning to the backfield in junior Jamichael Stallworth, who will be a senior in the fall. 

Sophomore running back Kyle Powell, who will be a junior in the fall, joined him in the backfield, and Friday proved a productive day for him.

“He looked fairly well running the football,” Powell said.

“He was able to keep the chains moving, break some tackles, and make some decent runs.  The line did a pretty good job of blocking up front, so we like the backfield that we have and we think we can run with them.”

The running back saw some playing time in 2016 in a handful of games behind then-starter Cameron Longmire.  But in Longmire’s absence, the shift in responsibility will be a sizeable one in 2017.  Fortunately, Georgiana’s head coach has confidence, based on what he’s seen.

“He’s a kid who is very capable of doing some big things for us this year running the football,” Powell said. “He’s gotten a lot bigger than he was and he looked good during the spring, so we’re excited because he has a different running style from Cameron, but it’s just as effective.”

Though the jamboree wasn’t a complete look at what teams will face in the fall, it was more than sufficient for coaches to find successes to build upon and shortcomings to improve.

“When we looked at the film, execution is one thing we talked about,” Powell said. “When the ball snaps, all 11 guys should be doing their job. And there were times on film when we made a positive gain, but everybody wasn’t doing their job. 

“Sometimes with an opponent is not very good you can do that and get away with it. But when you start getting into the second, third and fourth rounds of the playoffs, if everyone isn’t doing their job, that’s when you get exposed and you lose.”