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Panthers open region play in Jesup
Liberty County High School football coach Kirk Warner said his offensive line, shown here against Effingham earlier this season, must do a better job in protecting the quarterback. - photo by Courier file photo

Liberty County High School will travel Friday to Jesup to play Wayne County in the Panthers’ first Region 3-AAAA game of the season.

The Panthers (2-2) are coming off a 14-6 loss to Monroe on Saturday in Albany, while the Yellow Jackets still are feeling the sting of their 24-7 loss to Camden County last Friday. However, both teams are looking at a clean slate when it comes to region marks.

Wayne County is 1-4 overall, but its schedule has been filled with powerhouse opponents. Despite the losses, the Yellow Jackets have managed to hold strong against Appling County (33-9), Oakleaf High School in Florida (31-25) and Camden County.

“When you can hold Camden County to only 24 points, you are doing something right,” Panther football coach Kirk Warner said.

The Panthers know they have a tough battle ahead and have had struggles with Wayne in the past. The Yellow Jackets lead the series, going 4-0 against the Panthers the past four years.

Warner said this game is a must-win to have a good start going into the region games and knows the Yellow Jackets have improved dramatically over the past few years.

“They are a lot more athletic. Back then, they used to play a lot more power football, running a 5-3 front. But now, they are a straight 4-3 and again very athletic … they are a good team,” he said.

Warner said last week’s opponent, Monroe, was strong and going up against them can only benefit his team down the road.

“We played a good team and we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. But, I told the guys we can’t use the long trip as an excuse, because our ultimate goal is to make the playoffs and we are going to have to hit the road sometimes,” he said, adding that there is a high likelihood of playing metro-Atlanta teams in the postseason.

Warner said there were a few positive moments against Monroe.

“But the bottom line is that our offensive and defensive lines have to play better,” he said.

Monroe stifled the Panthers’ offense, holding the Panthers to 85 yards rushing and 47 yards passing. Warner said that once they work out the kinks on the front line, the Panthers should be able to pass and run better.

The Yellow Jackets will play tough against the Panthers and know the playing style of Liberty’s quarterback Walker Franklin. Before moving to Liberty County, Franklin was listed as the Yellow Jackets’ starting quarterback, a job now co-held by Nick Blez and Seth Clary.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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