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Preseason games fast approaching for Tigers, Panthers

Both teams kick off scrimmages on Aug. 15

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POSTED: July 14, 2014 10:50 a.m.

Liberty County’s Richard LeCounte, with ball, breaks away from the pack during a recent intersquad scrimmage. The Panthers will host South Effingham in their pre-season game Aug. 15.

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Although a preseason game primarily helps the coaching staff determine where their team is at, it’s still a game coaches want to win.
Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School both are waiting to see what their teams will look like when they hit the football field Aug. 15 for their respective preseason scrimmages. The Tigers take on Toombs County at 7 p.m. in Lyons, while the Panthers host South Effingham at 7:30 p.m. at Donell Woods Stadium.
New Tiger head coach Greg Hill has a bit of an advantage after the scrimmage. He will have two weeks to prepare for the big rivalry game against the Panthers on Aug. 29 at Olvey Field.  LCHS coach Kirk Warner, on the other hand, will have only one week to prepare for his season opener Aug. 22 against the Effingham Rebels at home.
Here are previews of what the teams might expect in their respective preseason games.

Tigers at Bulldogs
The scrimmage in Lyons pits the Tigers against an unknown variable. According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, Toombs County, which was called Lyons High, is 4-4-1 against the Tigers in games that took place from 1954-67. Nearly 50 years later, the two teams finally meet again.
Both squads are ushering in new head coaches. Former Richmond Hill coach Lyman Guy now is both coach and athletic director at Toombs. He replaced Robert Verspille, who was dismissed after one season amid allegations of misconduct.
Guy was the head coach at Robert Toombs Academy from 1998-2004. From 2005-09, he was an assistant coach at Wayne County High School before becoming the head coach of the Wildcats in 2010. Last year, Guy guided the Wildcats to their best season to date — a 10-2 record and the second round of the state playoffs.
Last year, the Bulldogs finished 4-6 overall, as did the Bradwell Tigers under coach Adam Carter, who left after the season. New BI coach Greg Hill has a slew of returning players who, while young last season, did come close to being break-even, record-wise.
Carter started to develop the Tigers’ passing game last season — something that Hill, a former star quarterback at Georgia Southern, also will try to improve. Last year, quarterback LaBaron Anthony completed 73 of 134 passes for 682 passing yards and two touchdowns. Backup Duane Johnson was 4 for 4 for 17 yards.
The Tigers rushed for 1,951 yards and 23 touchdowns, led by Anthony (619 yards), Hubert Anderson (562) and Sammie Clayton (540).
However, Anthony, Clayton and Anderson graduated. Johnson returns to compete with Stephen Felton.
Luther Echols returns at the running back. After a breakout season his freshman year, injuries sidelined him for most of the 2013 season. When asked at a recent practice, Echols said his leg felt great, and he is confident things will work well for him this season.
Defensively, the Tigers return leading tackler Isiah Barnes (86 total tackles). Anchoring the defense will be returners Keith Summers, Stephon Green Deangelo Smith and Shaun Maschino. Terrius Crimiel, Josh Ingram and Maxwell Ashe also are expected to contribute, possibly on both sides of the ball.
The Bulldogs did not have a complete set of stats for their 2013 season.

Panthers vs. Mustangs
The Panthers and the Mustangs have a long history, but going into this season, the Panthers are on the short end of it.
Although Liberty beat the Mustangs, 41-17, last year in Guyton, South Effingham leads the series, 8-2. The teams played each other from 2000-07 and again from 2012-13.
The Mustangs went 5-5 last year, while Panther coach Kirk Warner led his team to an 8-3 season and a  state-playoff berth. Both teams lost more than a dozen players to graduation, but both also have a wealth of experienced talent back.
The Mustangs return starting quarterback Tyler Pullum, who played in all 10 games as a sophomore last year. He completed 126 of 213 passes for 1,667 yards and 10 touchdowns. Junior running back Patrick Brown rushed for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns on 166 carries.
Warner said the starting quarterback spot, left open by the graduated Jordan Waters, remains open and can go either to Jaalon Frazier or Michael Moore. Both took snaps last season for the junior-varsity team.
While the Panthers lost leading rushers Trentice Williams, Raekwon McMillan and Waters, Jacquez Williams made waves last year, carrying the ball 36 times for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Also, JaMarcus Latson had 30 carries for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
McMillan is considered a big loss for the Panthers’ defense. The five-star-rated linebacker will suit up for Ohio State this fall, but Warner has been developing several players.
Stepping up is Richard LeCounte. The incoming sophomore already is considered a possible four-star recruit. LeCounte led the Panthers in kick returns and was third in tackles with 99. Joaqui Lemapu had 64 total tackles. Other big contributors to the defense will be Jacari Roberts, Tim Dobson Anthony Stewart and Calvin Holmes.
The Panthers passed for 1,101 yards and rushed for 2,705 last season. The Mustangs had a balanced attack, with 1,667 passing yards and 1,599 rushing yards.


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