Someone will realize their first loss of the season as the undefeated, No. 6-ranked Statesboro Blue Devils visit the undefeated Liberty County Panthers at 7:30 tonight at Donell Woods Stadium.
The game also is the first Region 3A-AAAA contest for both squads. Statistically, the teams are evenly matched, with both averaging 32 points per game. Stats aside, there is a strong rivalry developing between the teams.
In 2010, Statesboro, then undefeated as well, visited Donell Woods and was shut down, 29-0. It was something the Blue Devils never forgot, and in 2011, the teams battled to the bitter end, with the Blue Devils claiming a 17-14 win. Last year, the Blue Devils got the advantage in the series by topping the Panthers, 19-0, on their home field.
Panther coach Kirk Warner said his team has to play mistake-free football for 48 minutes tonight and can’t afford any turnovers, like the five they had last week against Glenn Hills that nearly cost them the lead.
“We definitely have to be focused this week, and we definitely can’t turn the ball over against a team like Statesboro,” he said. “They are a well-coached team. They make very few mistakes.”
Warner said the Blue Devils have 24 seniors, 15 of whom are returning starters. Last year, the Blue Devils made it to the playoffs, something Liberty did not accomplish.
The Panthers are 6-0, but a winning streak doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot. A win tonight would boost the team’s spirit and playoff chances.