Eagles’ run game to challenge Panthers

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Georgiana Panthers are two games away from back-to-back perfect regular seasons, but their latest obstacle is a drastically improved Pleasant Home Eagles team.

The Eagles, who are currently enjoying a three-game win streak, are looking to make their first playoff bid since 2012.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell attributes the Eagles’ improvement to a growing sense of team identity and maturity.

“I think you’ve got kids who are older now,” Powell said. “The new guys have put a system around them that they’re comfortable with.  They’ve bought into it, and they do a great job of executing it.  Kids are playing hard, and it’s making a difference.

“I would say the main thing is they have an identity about what they want to do, and their kids go out and execute the game plan.  As long as they’re doing that, they’ll always have an opportunity to win ballgames.  Defensively, they get after you, they play really hard and create turnovers, and they capitalize on it.  Those things have led to a three-game win streak for them.”

The Eagles have gotten it done thanks in large part to a direct and honest offense that outlines its game plan for all to see, and then dares its opposition to stop it.

Pleasant Home utilizes the Wing T formation out of the shotgun, running the buck sweep and option.  The biggest advantage is two large, powerful running backs that Powell said would look like linemen on any other team.

“They do a good job of using their size to their advantage, and they break tackles at the line of scrimmage to continuously pick up 7, 8 or 9 yards,” Powell said. “They won’t outrun you, but they do a good job of running downhill right at you and picking up good yardage.

“And they have a smaller kid who runs the buck sweep for them, and he’s an evasive kid who will keep the chains moving. They keep the clock moving, they keep drives going and it works for them.”

The Pleasant Home’s offense has a tendency to drain defenses on long, time-consuming drives.  Facing multiple third-down situations often demoralizes and fatigues defenses to the point that, by the time the Eagles have reached the red zone, their opposition is too tired to stop them.

Powell said that the key to victory for the Panthers would lie in getting their defense off the field quickly.

“Sometimes, it gets a little frustrating for defenses if you can’t hold them on first down,” Powell said.

“That’s going to be the key for us Friday night—we’ve got to keep them out of second-and-short and third-and-short situations in order to have a chance to win the ballgame.  If we don’t, the advantage will be in their favor.”

The Panthers travel to Pleasant Home Friday.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.