On Friday, the Liberty County High School football team will travel over to Ludowici to take on the team from Long County.
With the Blue Tide still looking for their first win of the year, and Liberty County ranked as the No. 16 AAA team in the state, according to MaxPreps, most fans would think that the game would be a lopsided victory for the Hinesville team. But if history repeats itself, the contest could be very competitive.
Last year, when the two teams faced off for the first time, The Blue Tide kept the game even for most of the first half, and went in down only 14-6 at the break. However, in the second half, the faster and stronger Panther team outscored their opponents 25 to 6 to take the victory 39-14. But even though Long County lost the game decisively on the scoreboard, what they did do on the field was show Liberty County that they would play hard and fight until the final click of the clock.
This year the Panthers have posted a 4-3 overall record, but in the games, that really matter they are 2-0 which places them atop the Region 2-AAA standings.
They are led on the ground by Kris Coleman who, according to MaxPreps, has already rushed for 1,085 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. In the air, Panther quarterback Dionte Bowens has thrown for 500 yards, four touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Bowens favorite target has been Jaleel Gilbert who has 241 receiving yards and one score.
The leading tacklers for Liberty County are Markel Johnson (64 tackles) and Alvin Roberts (63).
Long County goes into the game 0-7 overall and 0-2 in the region. They have been soundly beaten by Jeff Davis, Appling County, and Pierce County by a combined score of 108-14, but they lost to Bradwell Institute, New Hampstead, Islands High School and Windsor Forest by only an average score of 25-19. Also in two of those games, against Bradwell and Windsor Forest, they lost on last second field goals.
The Blue Tide is led in rushing by E.J. Crawford who in six games has 605 yards and three touchdowns, while the leading receiver for the team is Jamel Sloan with 171 yards.
Long County’s quarterbacking duties have been split between Dominic Roschman and Crawford who have combined for 475 yards in the air, with 5 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The leading defender on the team is Jaylen Bryan who in six games has 64 tackles.
One thing is for sure, if the Blue Tide are going to have any chance against the Panthers their offense will have to do better than they have over the last two weeks.
Against Appling and Pierce, Long County was held scoreless. Friday’s game is in Ludowici with the kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Riddle covers Long County sports for the Coastal Courier.