The Liberty County Panthers (8-1, 4-0) go into their match-up with the Pierce County Bears (7-2, 4-0) on Friday hoping for the first region championship in the history of the football program.
The Panthers go into the game ranked No. 4 in the state for AAA rankings, while the Bears are No. 13, according to MaxPreps, so this is sure to be a great way to end the regular season.
The Panthers are coming off a huge 49-14 win over the Brantley County Herons last week in their home regular season finale. The Herons put up 43 points against Pierce two weeks ago and lost by just six two weeks ago. So Liberty County has an advantage on paper, but must be able to drown out the home crowd at Bearville Stadium in Blackshear.
Liberty County enters this game averaging just over 39 points a game, while the Bears are putting up more than 43 points a game. Defensively, the Panthers have a slight advantage, allowing 15.6 points per game and the Bears allowing over 20 points.
It will be a battle of quarterbacks as well. The Panthers are led by Jaalon Frazier, who averages more than 222 yards a night. The Bears boast Stetson Bennett IV, who has more than 300 yards a night this year.
However, Frazier brings a different dynamic to the field as he also leads the Panthers with 95 yards on the ground per game this year. The Bears are getting a good look from Shyhiem Clark, who averages 83.4 yards and 14 points per game.
The Panthers and Bears have played each other twice in the past with Liberty County being 0-2 against Pierce County. They last met in 2001, a 35-24 win for the Bears.
Liberty County is looking to finish the season 9-1, which would be the best record in team history and would also lock up their first region title. A win would also bring a football region championship back to Hinesville for the first time since Bradwell Institute did so in 1997.
The Panthers and Bears meet up for a top 15 showdown in Blackshear on Friday with kickoff set for 7:30. Look for a full recap on this game in Sunday’s edition of The Coastal Courier.