The lights will be bright on Thursday night when the Liberty County Panthers travel up the road to battle the Johnson Atomsmashers in a Region 3-3A battle.
This will be the region opener for the two teams as they look to get off to the right foot.
The Panthers are coming off a 23-6 loss to Statesboro on Sept. 17, moving to 0-2, while Johnson defeated crosstown opponent Jenkins 14-8 on Sept. 10, improving to 1-3.
The loss at Statesboro would be the first game back on the field for the Panthers after they were placed on COVID shutdown by the Liberty County School System.
With only two games under their belt this season, it’s time for the Panthers to get ready for region matchups in a rare Thursday night football game.
“We rescheduled Statesboro to get a game in before we started region,” Panthers Head Coach Kirk Warner said. “It’s a little bit different than normal but we’ve played Thursday night games before. We didn’t have the results we wanted to against Statesboro, but our kids played hard. We’ve played two very good teams. Didn’t do so well against Baldwin but I think we held our own against Statesboro in a few plays here and there. We’re going in the right direction going into our region schedule.”
The Panthers and the Smashers last played almost a decade ago in 2013, Warner’s twelfth season as head coach where Liberty prevailed 40-20.
Both teams average low scoring tallies with the Panthers averaging six points in two games and the Smashers averaging 12 in their fourth contests.
The Panthers give up 32.5 points per game and the Smashers allows 26.3 points on average.
“We played a high 4A team and a 6A team in Statesboro and now we’re playing somebody with the same number of players that we have, and we feel comfortable,” Warner said. “Those tough games have prepared us to go into the region and I definitely don’t think we’re going to play a defense as good as Statesboro’s. If we keep improving, we’ll fare well in the region.”
The opponents have capable quarterbacks under center with sophomore Carlos Singleton taking snaps and being a dual threat by passing for 145 yards and rushing for 60 yards for the Panthers in the Statesboro game.
“He’s an athlete,” Warner said about his quarterback. “He gives us a run-pass option and improved a lot on his passing reads. He’s finally getting reps. Friday was his first game ever starting at quarterback. The more reps that Carlos gets, the better he’s going to be. He’s a smart kid and knows the checks. He’s just going to get better with the more reps that he gets at the position.”
Smashers senior quarterback Keon Edwards passed for 145 yards of his own with two touchdowns over Jenkins two weeks ago.
This game will kick off at 7:30 on Thursday, Sept. 23 at Garden City Stadium.