What used to be a region-rival game now is a non-conference battle for local bragging rights as Liberty County welcomes Richmond Hill for Friday’s senior-night football game at Donell Woods Stadium.
The Panthers (3-6 overall) and the Wildcats (2-7) are familiar foes, with Liberty holding an 8-3 advantage in the series.
Richmond Hill made the state playoffs last season, but has struggled most of this year. Despite the struggles, the Panthers know they have to contend with RHHS running back Ronnie Harris and quarterback Xavier Bryant-Long.
“They are really good at what they do on offense and the triple option … the B-back that they use, Ronnie Harris, is leading our whole area in rushing yards and is a great player,” Panther offensive coordinator Ryan Glazer said. “Their quarterback is smart and makes good decisions, and defensively, it seems like they are always in the right place.”
Bryant-Long is 26 of 50 for 370 passing yards. Harris has a team-high 1,195 rushing yards to date, while Bryant-Long is second with 467.
“We are going to play our base (defensive) front, but we will assign more than one person to him (Ronnie Harris) for sure,” Panther coach Kirk Warner added. “We will try and make the quarterback and A-backs carry the ball some and let them try and beat us.”
Liberty had a break last week, and except for Michael Williams and Walker Franklin, all the players seem to be healthy and ready for action.
Franklin sustained a season-ending injury against Wayne County, and Williams is out with a leg injury.
Sophomore quarterback Jaalon Frazier is 43 of 76 with 563 passing yards and six touchdowns. Leading the Panther rushing attack is Jacquez Williams with 412 yards and four touchdowns. A now-healthy JaMarques Latson has 382 yards and two touchdowns. Gyri Durant leads the team with 28 catches for 335 yards and one touchdown. Williams has 18 receptions for 277 yards and seven touchdowns, and Latson has nine receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown.
On occasion, the Panthers have thrown Jacari Roberts and Richard LeCounte into their offensive scheme. Roberts has rushed 12 times for 58 yards and one touchdown and has caught four passes for 96 yards. LeCounte has 146 yards on 23 carries and made 10 receptions for 80 yards.
Roberts and LeCounte also lead the defense in tackles with 81 and 71 total tackles, respectively. Roberts leads the Panthers in sacks with seven and has hurried the opposing QB five times. LeCounte has made three interceptions for 51 yards returned, deflected eight passes, caused a fumble, recovered a fumble, has returned nine punts for 158 yards and four kickoffs for 77 yards. Tracy White leads with six returns for 133 yards.
Friday’s game also is senior night, and roughly 19 senior players as well as cheerleaders and band members will be recognized.
“You always tend to remember your last home game of high school,” Warner said about his outgoing seniors, adding that there still is plenty to fight for. “And it is always good to go out on a winning note, especially so we can carry the momentum to the next game.”
The Panthers clinched a playoff spot two weeks ago when they beat Windsor Forest. Liberty County will face the winner between Griffin and Eastside in the first round.