Friday night football begins this weekend as Bradwell Institute Tigers hosts Liberty County at Hokey Jackson Stadium.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Get to the stadium early, or be ready for a long hike from your parking spot. Tickets are a hot commodity for this long-standing rivalry, which has seen Liberty win the last four games.
Last year, the Panthers prevailed 34-6.
Quarterback Jaalon Frazier completed 11 of 21 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and Richard LeCounte made three receptions against the Tigers, netting 104 yards and a touchdown.
The Panthers also ran for 227 yards and three touchdowns while holding BI to 145 yards and a touchdown on a 6-yard carry by Chris Evans. Liberty grabbed three turnovers — an interception and 25-yard return by Sam Roberts and two fumble recoveries.
But that was last year.
Liberty will have to do without its top running back this year as Jacquez Williams is now at Wake Forest, beginning his collegiate career. Defensively, the Panthers will also do without veterans Jacari Roberts and Calvin Holmes, who are now at Fort Valley State, and Martial Washington, who is at Georgia Southern.
And the Tigers are coming off a 38-0 shutout win in a pre-season scrimmage against Johnson High last week, despite not having top running back Luther Echols, who graduated.
Both teams return a wealth of talent capable of carrying either side to a win. Look for another big game from Tiger Corth Nelson. Last week he rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tiger defense can’t discount the return of Panther running back Elisha Polite.
Polite came to the Panthers last year after playing for the Richmond Hill Wildcats his freshman and sophomore years. He has a career total of 846 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 125 carries. He also has 37 career receptions for 702 yards and eight touchdowns.
Of course the Tigers need to watch LeCounte. But Liberty should take note that the Bradwell defense held the Atom-smashers to several quick three-and-outs, while also scoring on two safeties.
Many of the players from both teams have grown up playing rec ball together. But they leave it all on the field when it’s game time. This one could be a classic.