Football has meant more to the Liberty County Panthers football team this offseason.
It’s been an outlet and a refuge for them, especially after the passing of longtime head coach Kirk Warner.
Warner succumbed to cancer in June, almost two months before the start of the 2022 season. Without someone players looked upon as a father figure, interim coach Tony Glazer said, the Panthers have tried to adhere to what their late coach would have wished.
“Our motto is we’re trying to do what he would want us to do,” Glazer said. “We’re trying to do the things he would want them to do.”
The Panthers players and coaches have had a rocky last year emotionally, coming to grips with the deaths of two coaches in the last year. The mechanics of football, the work on the field and off, have been a coping mechanism, according to Glazer .
“We went through a lot of pain, the coaches, the kids, the whole community,” he said. “I think the kids did a good job. Football time was a good outlet for them. It was obviously a tough experience for these young men. In a 12-month period, we’ve had two coaches on staff who have passed away. It’s been tough on these kids, but they’ve done a good job of handling it.”
The Panthers coaching staff has had a great deal of continuity over the last few years and for the seniors, they have had almost nearly the same coaches for the last three years. That too has helped.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on the staff who have been here for a number of years,” Glazer said. “We have men who care about the kids. The kids needed it. I think that definitely played a role in that we’re all here for the kids.”
Glazier praised the Panthers players for their work during a tumultuous offseason. He pointed to the leadership from running back Paul Brown, a three-year starter, safety James Summersett, another long-term starter, defensive tackle Jah’zir Williams. receiver Ron Golden and D.J. Grant.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who stepped up this summer and took a leadership role, leading by example,” Glazer said.