HINESVILLE, GA -- On Friday the Liberty County Panthers became Region 3-3A champions after clinching in a 32-26 win over Beach.
This became the first time that the Panthers held the region crown since 2017, a season removed from the Richard LeCounte III era back when they were members of Region 2-3A.
All signs pointed to the Panthers being No. 2 in the region this season when they lost 12-6 to Windsor Forest in a defensive struggle matchup on Oct. 8.
But the Windsor Forest lost to Johnson, relinquishing the No. 1 seed as it was paired with the Panthers having the tiebreaker of Southeast Bulloch after defeating them on Oct. 1.
"These guys have battled through adversity for the last two years," Panthers Head Coach Kirk Warner said after securing the region. "We got shut down for forever it seemed like last year. The beginning of this year we got shut down and missed two games. We didn't play well against teams that we played later on because they were at game number four, and we were at game number one. The kids battled. We kept the faith and knew how we played early on wasn't indicative of what we could do. I tell them if they want to keep playing football, we got to go through our Covid protocols, mask up, and got to have everybody that we can at practice so that we can get better. Because we lost two weeks. So now we just got to hit our stride. The good thing is that we're going to host a home playoff game. Hopefully we win that, and we'll host another one the next week."
Now finishing the regular season with a 5-3, 4-1 Region 3-3A record, the Panthers awaits their first-round matchup where they will face either Long County, Brantley County, or Tattnall County out of Region 1.
20 years into his tenure at Liberty County's head coach, Kirk Warner has secured his third region trophy and eleventh playoff berth.
"I love Liberty County," Warner said. "Liberty County has been good to me and the kids have been good to me. The lord brought me here. It's my calling. I'm just going to do whatever I can to make our kids successful."
The next time the Panthers will take the field will be on Nov. 12 when they host the first round of the 3A playoffs at Donell Woods Stadium.
Final playoff brackets will be released once the regular season wraps up on Nov. 5.