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Tigers, Panthers ready for scrimmages
During a playful moment a recent Liberty County practice, the defense carries the running back off the field in lieu of the tackle. Friday, the Panthers will play more-serious football against South Effingham in Guyton. - photo by Patty Leon

The moment is almost here.
It’s just about time to dust off stadium cushions, purchase season tickets and head out to a Friday-night football game. Liberty County High School and Bradwell Institute both will be on the road for Friday preseason scrimmages. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

Bradwell at Toombs County
Last year, the Tigers traveled to Lyons for their first scrimmage against the Bulldogs in 50 years. It was Tiger head coach Greg Hill’s first scrimmage and game as Bradwell’s new head coach.

Hill and his newly developed staff still were putting the puzzle together and were ready to gauge the prospects of players for the season ahead.
The scrimmage ended up in a 0-0 tie. 

Keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone showed that the Tigers had a strong defense, considering that their top linebacker, Isaiah Barnes, played limited minutes during the scrimmage. Recovering from a leg injury, Barnes sat on the sidelines to recuperate for BI’s first regular-season game.

Barnes and most of last year’s starting defenders have since graduated, and a new crop of starters is preparing to showcase its talent. Tiger defensive coordinator Derek Sills hopes players will step up to the challenge — not just for the scrimmage, but the entire season.

The Tigers are 4-5-1 in the series against the Bulldogs in games that took place from 1954-67 and again last year. The Bulldogs — who are under second-year head coach Lyman Guy, who used to coach at Richmond Hill — struggled last year, finishing 2-8 overall. But much like Hill, Guy was trying to rebuild the Bulldogs’ system.

Liberty County at South Effingham
Last year, the Panthers used their scrimmage against South Effingham to finalize their pick for starting quarterback. Walker Franklin earned the start for the rest of the season.

In a solid defensive game, the Mustangs came away with a 9-7 win in the scrimmage.
Soon after, Franklin suffered a broken wrist, which put backup sophomore quarterback Jaalon Frazier right back into contention. Frazier completed 51 of 88 passes for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. He also rushed for 194 yards and one touchdown on 36 carries in
11 games last year.

This year, there is no doubt as to who the starting quarterback will be when the Panthers take the field Friday in Guyton. Frazier packed on 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason and attended passing camps in the spring and summer.

The Panthers are senior-heavy this year, especially along the front lines, which will only help Frazier develop his reads. Jacquez Williams, Liberty County’s 2014 Coastal Courier Player of the Year, is ready to focus on his running game and prove to Wake Forest, to whom he committed to in June, that the school made the right choice in offering him.

Senior Jacari Roberts is poised to play on both sides of the ball this year, trying to entice the six Division I schools that have displayed some interest in his talents. Liberty has a slew of talented players this season, including top national recruit Richard LeCounte, and all are itching to make a state-playoff run again this year.

The Panthers are true Region 3-AAAA contenders this season, and South Effingham will be a valuable measuring tool for the coaching staff.

In regular-season play, the Mustangs have an 8-2 advantage over the Panthers in games played from 2000-07 and then again from 2012-13.

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