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Panthers headed to Bear country
Solomon Ball, Thomas Penny, Aaron Bennett and Marcus Jefferson converge on a Raider during last Friday’s 17-16 overtime win. - photo by Photo by Jeff Melton/Classic 1 Hour Photo

Liberty County heads to Burke County tonight where they’ll take on a tough Bears squad, which is 5-1 overall and 1-1 in Region 3-AAA. The Panthers, 5-2 and 2-1, are looking to hold on to No. 3 or better in the region. There are two games left for LCHS after tonight.

According to Panther coach Kirk Warner, his defense faces a challenge when it comes to containing Bears quarterback Terrell Brigham.

"They probably have one of the best quarterbacks in the state," Warner said. "He is a smart kid. He knows how to run it or pass. The only thing we can tell our guys is to play at 150 miles an hour and try and lay a hat on him every chance we get. See if we can wear him down a little bit."

Offensively, Warner said the Bears run the spread offense much like his Panther squad.

"So if you don’t spread out with him (the quarterback) he is smart enough to pick you apart with a pass."

As for the Panthers offense, Panther quarterback Julian Stokes completed 4 of 7 passes for 27 yards and rushed for 37 yards last week in their 17-16 OT win against the Raiders. Running back Shadrach Thornton had 27 carries for 188 yards and two pass receptions. Wide receiver Mike Rodriguez averaged 7.6 yards per carry and had an 8-yard pass reception. Kris Crawford had two receptions for 17 total yards.

Leading the defense last week was Marcus Jefferson and Tucory Rhodes with 7 solo tackles each. Thomas Penny had 6, Aaron Bennett and Byron Johnson had 5 each.

Like last season, the Panthers’ bye week will be on Nov. 6, while the other squads in the region fight for a spot in the final four. Warner said that may be to their advantage, but they have to earn their spot first.

"We tell them they all count," he said of their last three games. "Our goal is to make the playoffs and hopefully do well in the playoffs, but you know you have to win games to get there. Once we get to our last game then we’ll start talking about playoffs. When you have six teams fighting for four spots it will normally come down to the last week of the season. The best way to get in is to continue to win your region games and everything will fall into place."

Last season the Bears came to Donell Woods and handed the home team a 24-12 loss. The Bears are 4-1 against the Panthers but the widest win margin was only 13 points.

Fortunately for the Panthers the majority of their team is healthy and the players are looking to avenge a home loss from last year by beating the Bears on their own turf.

"It’s definitely an important game," the coach said.

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