Liberty County High School will host the South Effingham Mustangs for a scrimmage game at 7:30 tonight at Donell Woods Stadium.
Currently, the Panthers are 8-2 in the series with the Mustangs. Last year, the Liberty boys walloped the Mustangs, 41-17, in Guyton.
The Mustangs went 5-5 last year, while Panther head coach Kirk Warner led his team to an 8-3 season, including one state playoff game. Both teams lost more than a dozen players to graduation, but both also are expected to return a wealth of experienced talent.
South Effingham is expected to return junior starting quarterback Tyler Pullum, who last year completed 126 of 213 passes for 1,667 yards and 10 touchdowns. Junior Mustang running back Patrick Brown rushed for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns on 166 carries.
“They are the same team we played last year when they were in our region, so we are somewhat familiar with them,” Warner said.
The coach added that the Mustangs tend to use a zone spread offense and a 3-5 defensive scheme.
Warner said the Panthers’ starting-quarterback spot, left open by the graduated Jordan Waters, remains unfilled. Jaalon Frazier and Michael Moore competed throughout the offseason for the job, but recently, a third candidate was added to the mix — Walker Franklin, a transfer student who played for Wayne County last year.
“Walker has been getting 50 percent of the reps, and Jaalon and Michael have been getting the other 50 percent,” Warner said. “Walker has come in and kind of taken hold of it, but we will see how he pans out in his scrimmage … he will be tested come Friday.”
The head coach said the Panthers will name their starter after the scrimmage.
Last season, the Panthers passed for 1,101 yards and rushed for 2,705. The Mustangs had a balanced attack with 1,667 passing yards and 1,599 rushing yards.
The scrimmage is huge for the Panthers as it will set the tone for the following week. Unlike most prep schools, the Panthers have only one week to prepare for their regular-season opener against Effingham County on Aug. 22 at home. Other teams don’t open regular-season action until Aug. 29.
“It’s game week,” Warner said. “Our guys are up to the challenge. We pushed them to the limit during the summer preparing for this. We told them we are a week behind because we had an earlier game, and they responded to the challenge.”