Liberty County will close out the regular season Friday with a non-region game at Richmond Hill.
The Panthers have already secured a playoff spot in Region 3-AAAA with a 3-1 region mark. They are 6-3 overall and had last Friday off to recuperate.
“It is a rivalry game for us, and they are going to have a great crowd for their senior night,” Panther head coach Kirk Warner said, adding that he thinks his team has a good chance to win. “You always want to go into the playoffs on a winning note. We definitely don’t want to go in on a losing note ... you want some momentum going into the playoffs.”
The coach said the Panthers have their work cut out Friday.
Warner said they need to focus on quarterback Brian Hughes and receiver Sam James.
“Their quarterback dominates the offense,” Warner said, adding that Hughes is athletic and big. “And their receiver can make the big plays. He can run and catch the deep ball. We are going to have to watch both of them as far as the offense goes.”
Hughes is 61 of 135 for 964 passing yards and 10 touchdowns and James leads the team with 458 yards off 22 catches, and six of these 10 touchdowns. Hughes leads the offense in rushing with 645 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Panther offense is led by Jaalon Frazier, who has thrown for 1,264 yards and 12 touchdowns, completing 71 of 145 passes.
When trick plays or fresh legs are needed, the Panthers toss in Richard LeCounte. The standout junior has 235 passing yards with two touchdowns and is 10-of-22 passing.
Wake Forest-committed Jacquez Williams dominates the running game with 935 yards and nine touchdowns. LeCounte has rushed for 565 yards, and former Wildcat turned Panther, Elisha Polite, has rushed for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
LeCounte and Polite led the team in receptions. Both have 21 receptions, with Lecounte gaining 494 yards and Polite netting 422 yards.
LeCounte leads the defense with 78 total tackles.
Warner said the Wildcats’ defensive line is undersized.
“But they get after the ball and they can create turnovers,” he said. “We have to have good ball security on our offense and try and pound on them a little bit.”
Returning to action after a brief injury is Panther Jacari Roberts, who is third on the defense in tackles with 58. Antonio Golden is second with 59 tackles.
The Panthers are waiting to see their playoff seed.
“It is still comes down to the game between Burke and Thomson,” Warner said, adding that those schools play Friday in Thomson. “If
Thomson wins we have the lock at No. 2. If Burke wins, it is going to come down to points … A No. 1 seed for us is a possibility, but Burke would have to win and by a wide margin. We will sit anywhere between No. 1 and No. 3 seed.”