The Panthers host the Ware County Gators tonight at Donell Woods Stadium, where the Liberty team and their fans will also celebrate homecoming.
The Tigers head to Savannah to play the Jenkins Warriors.
The Tigers and Panthers are trying to improve their win records to earn bids for the post season. Right now, each school has only two wins.
Panthers host Gators
Liberty will face its third Region 2A-AAAA opponent tonight. The Panthers and the Gators both have 1-1 region records, but Ware County has a 4-2 overall record compared with the home team’s 2-4 mark.
Last week, the boys dropped a game, 26-14, to the Brunswick Pirates mostly because of Brunswick’s key offensive plays in the second half.
Panther coach Kirk Warner said his team missed opportunities to put more points on the board and gave the Pirates good field position.
"Of course they made a heck of a play," Warner said of the Pirates’ recovery of the ball in their own end zone after his boys caused a fumble. "Their player, Justin Coleman, has made a verbal commitment to Tennessee and he is an outstanding athlete. They got the big play on the screen and we caused the fumble, but we just couldn’t recover it in the end zone."
The coach said the second half was a battle for field position, but his team wasn’t able to execute plays as well as the Pirates. It didn’t help that just two days before the game starting quarterback Matt Desbiens cracked a finger on his throwing hand.
"If Matt had broken his finger the previous Friday night then we would have had all week to prepare for it. But he cracked his finger Tuesday," Warner said.
However, the coach said quarterback Jarrett Rivers and running back Shadrach Thornton, manning the ball with the wildcat play, did well despite limited preparation time.
Thornton carried the ball 28 times for 101 yards and was one of three in passing, including a touchdown pass for 27 yards. He had one interception. Rivers was two of four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Alton Sapp had a 12-yard touchdown reception. Melvin King had a reception good for 27 yards, but fumbled the ball. Sam Carter had four carries for 30 yards.
"I think our game plan this week, having everybody that we are counting on for the full week, we will have a much better showing," Warner said.
The coach said the Gators are comparable to Statesboro — a team the Panthers defense was able to shut out 29-0 earlier this season.
"They are big and physical on offense. They are much faster and I think they are going to be the best defensive team we face all year," Warner said.
The coach said his offense has been able to move the ball, execute plays and score points. He said if they can maintain a few offensive drives it will be up to his defense to stop the Gators.
"They are not going to be fancy," he said. "They are going to run it straight at you and I think that tends to play right into defense’s hands."
Against the Pirates, DeAnte Lumpkin and Tucory Rhodes had eight and a half tackles each, and Rhodes had two tackles for losses. Demetrick Mothershed had eight tackles — one for a loss — and a sack. Shakur Cook had seven tackles — one for a loss — and a sack. Anthony Dabson and Trevon Walthour had six and a half tackles each, and Charles Hall had six tackles in the game.
The Liberty team has scored 84 points, averaging 14 points per game. The Panthers have allowed 100 points against them. The Gators have scored 145 points and have allowed 49 points.
Tigers at Jenkins
The Tigers are fresh off a 21-13 win over a formidable Windsor Forest Knight squad that currently is 4-3 overall and 3-2 in Region 3-AAAAA.
However, the Jenkins Warriors are undefeated in the region with a 5-0 record and are 6-1 overall, second behind Camden.
Tiger coach Jim Walsh is tweaking the offense after starting quarterback Myrese Cobb broke his leg against Savannah High two weeks ago. Freshman LaBaron Anthony stepped up to the challenge but has suffered recent setbacks because of tendonitis in his elbow.
The coach said they pulled him out of Thursday’s game midway through the second quarter.
"We put Tony (Britton) in and he had a pretty good night throwing the ball," Walsh said. "I think he had 108 yards throwing and was six of nine and, of course, two big touchdown passes."
Anthony sat out of practice Monday and Tuesday, but Walsh planned to let him practice Wednesday. If the elbow continues to be a problem, the coach said he is prepared to run with Britton and Kevin Eaves-Robles, who has also taken a few varsity snaps under center.
The Tigers have put up 78 points this season, but have allowed 170. The Warriors have scored 187 and have given up only 57 points.
Greg Howard and Ray Pitolau led the Tigers’ defense last week with 11 tackles each. D’Marius Moye had six, Marsalis Jackson had four, and John Somerville, Lord Smith and Jahlil Whitt had three each.
Walsh said the victory against Windsor Forest boosted his squad’s confidence.
"Jenkins has a pretty good football team," he said. "They have size and speed and, again, it’s going to come down to us executing the plays. If we can keep it close it will give us an opportunity. That is what we were able to do last Thursday against a pretty good Windsor Forest team."