Last season, Liberty County High School shocked the state high school football world when it knocked off Statesboro, 29-0, in convincing fashion at Donell Woods Stadium.
Expect the No. 3-ranked Blue Devils (3-0) to be ready to return the favor when the Panthers (2-1) travel to Statesboro tonight.
“It’s going to be an 18-round heavyweight fight,” Liberty County coach Kirk Warner said. “We know what we have to do. We did some things well last year and our defensive front is going to win or lose the game for us this week.”
Warner said his defensive line did an outstanding job last year so he had this year’s squad watch film to see which techniques worked best against the Blue Devils’ offense.
“We told them they probably would not make any tackles, but we need them to eat up blocks and let our linebackers make plays,” he said.
So far, the Panthers’ defense has been solid, limiting opponents to 11 points per game.
Sophomore Raekwon McMillan has 26 tackles while Anthony Dabson and Melvin King have 18 and 14, respectively. Rounding out the double-digit tacklers are Tay Tay Bacon with 12 and Cory Lazenby with 11.
When Liberty County has the ball, the Blue Devils likely will key in on senior Shadrach Thornton, who in just three games has 67 carries for 577 yards and six touchdowns.
Blue Devils coach Steve Pennington made note of Thornton when he spoke with Georgia High School Football Daily reporters earlier this week.
“That sucker right there, he is the real deal,” Pennington said. “He is smooth as ice and can turn it on in the open field now.”
But Thornton isn’t Liberty’s only weapon.
“Sam (Carter) is starting to establish himself, so if they key on Shadrach (Thornton) too much, (Carter) can hurt them just like he did against Effingham,” Warner said.
In the two games Carter played, he has 93 yards on 16 carries.
Warner said quarterback Jerome Grant is finally settling down and has proven he can knock off chunks of yardage when the focus turns to Thornton. Grant has 19 carries for 167 yards so far.
“I think our offensive has evolved enough that if they key in on Shadrach, somebody is going to step up and hurt them,” Warner said.