The rivalry started out as preseason scrimmages over the past few years, but the battle between Liberty County and Wayne County turned into a Region 2-AAAA fight last season.
Tonight at Donell Woods Stadium, the Panthers are looking to take the sting out of the Yellow Jackets and their University of Virginia verbal commit, quarterback Greyson Lambert.
It is a must-win game for the home team to stay afloat in the hunt for a postseason berth.
Wayne County edged out a 14-6 win against Liberty County in a heated defensive battle last season, the first time the two squads played as region opponents.
Wayne County is coming off a big loss against Brunswick last Friday in which the Pirates held the Yellow Jackets to 13 points while running up 44.
Liberty County is coming off a 47-6 loss to Ware County, which held senior running back Shadrach Thornton to 71 yards.
Coach Kirk Warner said the Panthers spent the week tweaking the offense and stressing execution to avoid penalties. Offensive coordinator Ryan Glazer said turnovers and penalties have hurt the offense in the past few games, but “the passing game has improved over the last two weeks, which helps our running game.”
Glazer said the Yellow Jackets are aggressive on defense and like to blitz. Wayne County likes to mix up its coverage in the secondary, the offensive coordinator added.
But the key will be how well the Panthers’ defense plays against Lambert’s passing game.
Glazer said the Yellow Jackets are a great passing team with Lambert at the helm. And he has some help in receiver Krenwick Height and running back Lorenzo Larry. Both are speedsters, with Larry reportedly recording a 4.37 in the 40.
“They have a young wide receiver (Height) that they look for to make a big play down the field,” Glazer said. “They like to get their running back (Larry) involved in their passing game as well as running the ball. We will have to get pressure on him and not give him time to throw.”
“We are going to try and contain him and hopefully get in his face a little and not give him clean throwing lanes,” Warner added.
Ware County currently holds the top spot in Region 2A-AAAA, followed by Wayne County and Brunswick. But the Panthers still can nab the fourth and final spot for the postseason, making the games tonight and next week critical for the Liberty County squad.