After dropping a game against Americus-Sumter last week at Donell Woods Stadium, the Liberty County Panthers have another chance to defend their home turf tonight when they host McIntosh Academy.
The Buccaneers hold a 7-1 series lead against the Panthers, but this year MCA hired former Tift County offensive coordinator Keith Gosse as head coach, which will add a new offensive look to the program.
“They are a typically McIntosh team defensively. Offensively, they are a little different,” Panthers coach Kirk Warner said. “Instead of running the power out, they are going to the spread.”
Warner said the change in the Bucs’ offense might provide a slight advantage to his squad, but he said his defense can’t overlook how prepared the Bucs might be.
“Any time you change from one extreme to the other, it takes some time to get things under way, but they had a scrimmage and a game to get things worked out and we will have our work cut out for us,” he said.
Despite the score, the Panthers’ defense played well against Americus, with Tay Tay Bacon leading the tackles at seven. Anthony Dabson had 5.5 tackles, three for losses, and a fumble recovery to earn him the Coastal Courier player of the week award.
Warner said his team worked on ironing out the kinks that led to mental errors last week offensively. The Panthers also concentrated on the kicking game. Last week, the Panthers were in the red zone four times and never attempted a field goal.
Shadrach Thornton had 27 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown last week to lead the Panthers’ rushing attack. Panthers quarterback Jerome Grant had eight carries for 14 yards. Sam Carter rushed for 18 yards on six carries and Raekwon McMillan added 11 yards on three carries.
The Panthers also worked on fine-tuning the passing routes to add some balance to their spread offense. Last week, Grant was 1 for 3 passing wile Thornton was 0 for 3 from the Wildcat formation.
“We know that in order to accomplish our goals, we have to be able to pass the ball,” Warner said. “We can’t be one-dimensional. We have our JV quarterback (last season) that is starting this year, and that was his first real game. Hopefully it was just a matter of the jitters. We come back this week and work hard and we are still going to balance it out with the pass and run.”
MCA is coming off a 30-0 loss to Savannah Christian last week.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.