HINESVILLE -- The time has come.
Playoff ball is here.
The Liberty County Panthers (5-3) will host Brantley County Herons (3-7) for the first round of the GHSA 3A playoffs.
The Panthers are entering the playoffs as a No. 1 seed, after winning the Region 3-3A title, the first time they got the crown since 2017.
The Herons are coming from Nahunta, representing Region 1 as a No. 4 seed.
“We feel confident going into Friday,” Panthers head coach Kirk Warner said. “We didn’t play a full four quarters against Beach but like we say there’s no such thing as an ugly win. We took 3-4 days last week working on things that we could correct ourselves like penalties and things of that nature. So, we feel good coming into this home playoff game. I’m glad that we could ger back home and not worry about the travel. We can have our normal pregame rituals. We’ll be ready to play on Friday.”
The Panthers are coming into the playoffs averaging 22.8 points per game.
Their rushing attack is the Panthers main weapon, being led by Marques Johnson’s 800 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
Compared to their aerial attack, the rushing game of the Panthers has 17 total touchdowns compared to seven through the air with six coming from Carlos Singleton.
The Panther defense has allowed 17.9 points per contest with the defenders of Jaleel Andrew, Mason Diaz, and Jah’zir Williams who combines for 148 tackles and seven sacks.
The defensive backs of Caz Creasy, James Summersett, and Kyan Parker.
Creasy leads the secondary in tackles with 41.
Summersett and Parker has five interceptions combined.
The Herons average 13.3 points over the season with a balanced attack with sophomore quarterback Kirkland Cannon running the show with 971 passing yards, leading Region 1 and eight touchdowns along with a total of 1,002 rushing yards led by freshman back Kendall Wright.
“It’s going to be won in the trenches,” Warner said. “They’re hardnosed and get after on both lines.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Herons gave up 27 points per over their ten games.
Their main defensive stopper is RJ Bryan who has 113 tackles, also leading the region.
“They’re physical and everybody rallies to the ball,” Warner said. “They force a lot of turnovers. We just got to make sure we take care of the ball and do what we do. We have a slight advantage in the speed aspect and hopefully we can get Creasy, James, and Paul (Brown) and all those guys up to the second level and see how far they can run. We’re going to make them play the whole field from sideline to sideline. They make some plays early on but as the game goes on hopefully, we can hit a couple of creases and take it to the house.”
First round playoff ball will begin on Friday, Nov. 12.
The Panthers and Herons will battle each other for the playoff opener at Donell Woods Stadium at 7:30.