Panthers to treat non-region battle with St. Luke’s like playoff game

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Georgiana Panthers are on cloud nine after victory over their perennial rivals, the Brantley Bulldogs.  But the St. Luke’s Wildcats could bring the team crashing back to Earth Friday on the road in Mobile.

Though the Panthers took a decisive win last year over the Wildcats, Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell said that this year’s Wildcats team has improved in nearly every respect.

“The thing about them is that they had a lot of young kids that they were playing, and you could tell because they made a lot of mistakes that allowed us to score in bunches last year,” Powell said. “But watching them on film, they’ve eliminated quite a bit of those mistakes.

“And offensively, they have two or three guys who are very similar to what we have and are very quick and illusive. It makes it hard to defend them, so we’re going to have to be very sound in what we do defensively and be great at tackling in open space.”

St. Luke’s remains the only non-region game left on the Panthers’ regular season schedule.  But if you’re Georgiana, and the only goal is a perfect season, there’s not much use in distinguishing between a region and non-region opponent.

“You try not to make that distinction because you understand that the goal is to win every game you play,” Powell said. 

“To me, we sort of think of it from a coaching standpoint as being in the postseason, where you have to go on the road in hostile territory and win.  That’s sort of what I equate it to-it’s just like being in the second or third round of the playoffs and you have to go into a tough environment and find a way to win the ballgame, and that’s what we’re going to have to do Friday. 

“We know they’re good, and they know we’re pretty good, and it’s just going to be two really good football teams going out there and competing, and the one that can do the best job of containing the other is going to be the one that wins the football game.”

The St. Luke’s Wildcats have only faced three opponents this season, but they’ve made short work of unsuspecting Class 2A opponents such as Luverne and Chickasaw.

But Powell said that what makes St. Luke’s a team worth respecting is not just who they’ve won against, but how they’ve won.

“They’ve won all three games they’ve played in convincing fashion,” Powell said.  “When you watch them on film, you see the athleticism, and they get after it on defense.

“They were pretty solid last year, but they were just young, just like we were once. Their kids understand what to do a little better than last year, so they play a lot faster and with a  lot more confidence.  And you can see it when they play.”

The Panthers travel to St. Luke’s Friday.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.