The future appears bright for the Liberty County Panthers, if the end of the preseason scrimmage was an indication.
The Panthers junior varsity ranks accounted for two touchdowns in their six minutes of offense to close out the scrimmage, after South Effingham outscored Liberty 24-0 in three quarters of varsity action.
“We’ve got some good young talent,” said Liberty County coach Kirk Warner.
Backup quarterback Aaron Kuhl broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run, and Chris Baker had a 70-yard TD burst cut short by a penalty. But Baker caught a 28-yard touchdown pass two plays later.
The late flurry allowed the Panthers to leave The Corral with some positives.
South Effingham’s varsity used Tyler Pullum’s rushing touchdown and his touchdown strike to Marcus Boyd to build a 21-0 halftime lead. Makenzy Newbill’s fumble recovery led to James Hodges’ 20-yard field goal in the third quarter.
“South Effingham played hard,” Warner said. “They played like we expected them to. They’re a hard-nosed team. They executed well. They were just the better team tonight.”
South Effingham coach Donnie Revell said he wants to play like Liberty for the scrimmage because of the challenge the Panthers present — and the shortcomings of his own they reveal.
“It gives us a chance to see where we’re at,” he said. “That part was exciting for the kids.”
The Panthers held out two of its starting running backs, and Warner said if it had been a regular-season game, they might have played.
The Panthers have just a few days to get ready for a return trip to Effingham County and the season-opener against the Effingham County Rebels. The Rebels tied Screven 7-7 in their two quarters of varsity scrimmage Friday.
In the meantime, Warner already has in mind what he wants to work on during practice.
“We’ve got to get consistency on both lines, offensive and defensive,” he said. “We’ve got the skill people. We’ve got the guys who can make the plays. We’ve got to get more consistent in picking up blitzes. Defensively, we’ve got to get more punch and get off blocks and make shoulder tackles instead of hand tackles.”
Warner said junior quarterback Jaalon Frazier showed poise, and that bodes well for what’s ahead.
“That was a big thing,” the coach said. “He did well in spots.”
Once his full team is on the field, Warner believes they will be a contender.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “I think when we get everybody back healthy, we’re going to put a very competitive team on the field.”