Perfect Panthers claim third region championship

Published 12:23 am Saturday, October 28, 2017

Though the Georgiana Panthers didn’t quite secure its fourth straight shutout, they held a Houston County Lions team that averaged 42 points per game to just 14 to win 40-14.

Though an errant pass put the Panthers behind early on their first drive, Georgiana battled its way back to a comfortable 20-14 halftime lead.

But for Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell, it was defense that stole the show in the second half.

“We knew that we would have to play well on defense in order to win the ballgame,” Powell said.  “We talked at the half—offensively, we stopped ourselves on that first one with the interception, but other than that we moved the ball like we wanted to and scored every other possession. 

“We weren’t worried about our execution offensively, but I told them that we needed to play with a little more pride and heart in the second half.  It wasn’t anything but you being pushed and not necessarily pushing back.  And we came out in the second half and started pushing back.”

The win secures not only the Panthers’ second consecutive 10-0 regular season, but also the team’s third straight region championship.

Powell called the culmination of the team’s five-year journey a “dream come true.”

“I tell my players all the time that people told me when I took this job that I couldn’t do it,” he said. “They said the kids wouldn’t listen, but I knew deep in my heart that if I were given the opportunity, these kids would do what they’re doing right now.

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  But I watched these kids come back week-in and week-out and get beaten. So I knew they loved to play the game of football.  They were just looking to be pushed in the right direction. I tell them that I walk by faith and not by sight, and that’s what I want them to do. I want you to trust in God and your ability and work hard at what you do, and we’ll let the results speak for themselves.

“These guys slowly believed in it, and now that’s what we do.  We talk about how far Christ has brought us, and we’re going to hold on to it and see how far it goes.”

The Panthers face what Powell referred to as a gauntlet of five one-game seasons in the postseason. But with a much-needed bye week coming up, the team has more pressing concerns in the meantime.

“We have an opportunity to let some guys heal up and just stress some fundamental stuff,” Powell said. “For us, at this stage in the game, the team that wins it all is the one that stays fundamentally sound over the next five weeks.”