The Liberty County Panthers will play McIntosh County Academy tonight in Darien in a non-region game.
The Panthers and the Buccaneers faced off nine times from 2002 until 2011, with the Panthers winning only twice.
The Buccaneers are off to a 0-2 start falling to Brunswick and Savannah Christian, but shouldn’t be taken for granted. Liberty County coach Kirk Warner called the Bucs physically gifted.
The Darien team is senior-heavy, especially at the skill positions. MCA quarterback Brandon Moran, who is listed as 6-foot-3 and 191 pounds, is considered quick, solid and accurate. Senior wide receiver Tre Scott stands 6-foot-7, making for an easy target. Running back Nick Cummings is another threat.
“They run a zone-read spread offense and have a very athletic quarterback, and they have some tall receivers … it’s going to be another battle,” Warner said.
The Panthers’ head coach said they still are waiting to hear from the Georgia High School Association in regards to quarterback Walker Franklin’s eligibility.
GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips did not consider Franklin’s move and transfer from Wayne County High School to LCHS a bona fide move. Franklin, who was named the starter in preseason, and his family currently live in Midway, and he has attended Liberty County High School since the start of the school year.
Sophomore Jaalon Frazier has been carrying the load for the offense at quarterback and was considered a potential starter before Franklin transferred in. Frazier struggled in game one but looked much better last week against Bradwell. In the team’s two games this season, Frazier has completed 14 of 20 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown.
“He is growing, and it’s giving him valuable playing experience … our goal is to get the two of them back in the fold and have two capable quarterbacks that we can count on down the stretch,” Warner said.
Liberty’s ground game has produced 365 yards and one touchdown on 60 carries. But what the Panthers can’t afford to do is cough up the ball. The Liberty offense fumbled four times in last week’s game at Bradwell. Frazier also has thrown three interceptions this season.
Warner said MCA runs a three-man front and blitzes a lot, “which has typically given us problems so we are working on that."
The Panther defense is holding their own. Both games this season, they played without top prospect Richard LeCounte, who is awaiting medical clearance after being injured in the preseason scrimmage Aug. 15.
Panther defensive coordinator Tony Glazer has given his players some objectives for the game. He would like at least two picks and that many or more sacks. This season, the Panthers have tallied 5 ½ sacks and one interception.
As of Thursday morning, the defense was led in tackles by junior Jacari Roberts with 19 and sophomore Tucker Lyda with 18. Roberts also leads in sacks with three.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.