In just over a week, the Liberty County Panthers could be traveling to Blackshear for a game against the Pierce County Bears that could decide the 2016 Region 2-AAA championship. However, the Panthers hope to finish their regular season home schedule with a win over the offensively powerful Brantley County Herons on Friday.
The Panthers are coming off a 39-12 victory over next-county opponent Long County that saw them struggle against a tough Blue Tide defense in the first half. They look to turn things around this week when they welcome in the Herons, led by talented quarterback Mikel Collins.
The Herons pulled out a big upset over the Appling County Pirates to move to 2-1 in the region and essentially lock up a spot in the state playoffs. They scored a season-high 59 points in that game. The huge win could give them confidence as they head into Flemington Friday.
In the Appling game, Collins earned season highs of 296 yards passing and 206 yards rushing while tabbing eight total touchdowns. That performance adds to his 1,274 yards through the air and 929 yards on the ground for the season.
The Panthers, on the other hand, will likely rely on the one-two punch of quarterback Jaalon Frazier and do-it-all athlete Richard LeCounte III. Frazier totaled 246 yards through the air and three touchdowns, two to LeCounte, and two more touchdowns on the ground while LeCounte returned an interception for a touchdown in the win over Long County last week.
With a win, the Panthers would clinch a home game in the first round of the state playoffs for the second straight year and the second time under head coach Kirk Warner. It would also keep them in line to win their first ever region championship.
The Panthers are 2-0 against the Herons, having last matched up with the team in 2007, a 33-13 victory. Prior to kickoff in this game, Liberty County will honor the senior class with the annual Senior Night ceremony taking place in the final home game of the regular season.
The Panthers and Herons are set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Donell Woods Stadium on Friday.