Panthers seek third straight win over Brantley

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Georgiana will be the site of an early Game of the Season contender as the Panthers (4-0) face the visiting Brantley Bulldogs (3-0).

Georgiana holds the advantage in recent history as back-to-back region champs, defeating the Bulldogs in 2015 (29-18) and 2016 (44-20).  Those two wins punctuated a two-decade trend of Bulldog victory, dating all the way back to 1997.

“For the past few years, it’s been a great battle between the two teams,” said Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell. “We’re both trying to be at the top of the region.  At one point, we were at the bottom of it, and we had to work hard to get to the top.  And once we got here, we knew we were going to have to work even harder to stay.

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“Brantley is a team and a program that is used to being at the pinnacle of it all, and they want to get back to where they feel their rightful place is.  So each year it’s going to always be a knock-down, drag-out type of game and I don’t see this year being any different.  We’re just hoping we can make some explosive plays in the ballgame to keep us in it and help us stay undefeated.”

Brantley’s three wins this season are all equally decisive—the Bulldogs crushed Straughn, Kinston and Pleasant Home by at least 40 points.  Though strength of schedule bears mentioning—two of the Bulldogs’ opponents sit at 1-2 and the third is winless. 

Despite the Bulldogs’ schedule, Powell is certain that this year’s Bulldogs team has noticeably improved from its 2016 iteration.

“They’re better than they were last year,” he said. “They played a lot of young kids last year.  They’re a bit more seasoned and more mature young men this year, and you can tell when they execute the things they do. 

“They play physical and get after it on defense, and it’s the same thing on offense.  They run the football right downhill at you and play-action off it.  We know we have our hands full, and this will probably be the best overall football team we’ve played thus far—it was sort of close with them and New Brockton.”

Powell added that the Bulldogs will be the biggest test by far for his yet-unbeaten Panthers.  All that’s certain is that one of the undefeated juggernauts will exit on the other side of Friday with a region loss.

Powell said that the key to remaining lossless lies, as it always has, in his team’s ability to execute.

“They’re going to pose problems in certain areas—we know it,” he said. “So we’ve got to make sure that we’re attacking the other areas we’re working on.  We know they’re going to pound the ball right at us up front and then play-action off of it. 

“We just have to be smart and not blow assignments, run to the football and then, when we get an opportunity to get them on the ground, get them on the ground. We don’t need to miss tackles and give them second and third chances by making mistakes.”

The Panthers and Bulldogs face off in Georgiana Friday at 7 p.m.