Georgiana’s Bess talks Coach of the Year nomination, postseason hopes

Published 10:00 am Monday, October 17, 2022

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Sometimes a turnaround can feature a stumbling block or three.

Georgiana High School’s football team rocketed to a 6-0 start before dropping its three most recent games, but with a bye week on the horizon, Panthers head coach Berry Bess still has postseason hopes on his mind.

Bess said his team started out flat in the first half of a 13-12 loss to Red Level on Friday, and while a pair of Cam Miles rushing touchdowns in the second half put them back in the game, the Panthers failed to convert on either two-point conversion.

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“Hindsight is 20/20, but I probably should have taken a timeout on the last two-point conversion to draw up the best play we had to make sure we got in, but I thought we could get in by going fast because they were kind of on their heels,” Bess said. “They were able to get a stop, and we just weren’t able to get the ball back in the last two minutes.”

Nehemiah Altidor came up with an interception for the Panthers in the first half against Red Level.

Despite a three-game losing streak, Bess and his squad’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed as Bess is one of three finalists in Class 1A for Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Coach of the Year honors.

“I’m proud of the way my kids and my assistant coaches have responded to everything we’ve been through,” Bess said. “Of course, last year, I didn’t think that was who we were. I knew we were very talented – it was just a late start getting here and getting going … My name is tied to it, being the head coach, but I can’t do it alone. The players and the coaches do tremendous jobs as far as trying to get better each week, the coaches putting the players in the best position to win, and the kids going out and executing what we’ve asked them to do.”

The Panthers  enter Week 9 with a bye week before their regular season finale against Pleasant Home. Florala, Red Level and Georgiana remain in contention for the third and fourth seed in Class 1A, Region 2.

“Anything can happen on a Friday night, without a doubt, but if the region plays like it has been playing out so far, we should still be fine as far as getting in,” Bess said. “We really wanted the one this past Friday because five region wins would have put us in as a lock for sure. We still have an opportunity, and we have to be locked in going to Pleasant Home.”

Bess said the late bye week gives his players a chance to recover from the rigors of the regular season, but this week will be spent working on getting things right for Georgiana.

“We’re focused on Georgiana this week,” he said. “We won’t even focus on Pleasant Home. We have film on them, but I haven’t released it to kids yet. The coaches will start watching it, but we’re just focusing on ourselves this week, just trying to lock in to what we have. It’s weird having a bye week this late because we’ve played nine games up to this point, but we just have to take what we’ve been given with our region being so big, and try to make sure we’re locked in to get better this week and next week. We have to realize this is a bye week – it’s not an off week.”