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Tigers, Panthers try to keep focus in rivalry game
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A big trophy and a first win of the season are at stake Friday night at Donell Woods Stadium.

The Bradwell Institute Tigers, who dropped their season opener to Wayne County, meet the host Liberty County Panthers, who fell to Southeast Bulloch to start their 2023 campaign.

The winner of the game gets the Commissioner’s Cup. Liberty has won the last five meetings between the two programs, dating back to 2017.

But both coaches are imploring their players to keep their eye on the task at hand, and not their ear to talk of rivalry week.

“Don’t get caught up in the trash talk,” Bradwell coach DeShon Brock said of his guidance to his players. “We have to make sure we keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t let the stage be too big. Don’t let the lights get too bright.”

Liberty County coach Tony Glazer said his team will take the same approach as they do to any one else on the schedule.

“In order for us to win on Friday night, we have to win Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” he said, referring to the Panthers’ practices leading up to the game. “We have to control what we can control.”

Since Bradwell played Wayne County on Thursday, the Liberty coaches got to see the Tigers first-hand – and with Friday night off, that meant the Tigers coaches could do the same with Liberty’s game against SEB.

For Bradwell, the coaches know the footage of Liberty’s one quarter of scrimmage and their game against SEB, with the Panthers’ top two quarterbacks out, won’t give them much to go on in game planning.

“We do have great respect for them and what they’re capable of doing,” Brock said. “Defensively, what we saw last Friday is not going to be what we see this Friday.”

Liberty gave up 288 yards rushing and nine plays of at least 10 yards – four of those coming on SEB’s last 11 plays.

The first order to correct this week in practice has been blown assignments, Glazer said.

“On offense, we left guys unblocked and had guys open we couldn’t get the ball to,” he said. “Defensively, when we got lined up, we did well. A couple of times, we got out of position. Those are things we can control. If we don’t line up right, that puts us at a disadvantage.”

Glazer added he was impressed by what the Tigers offense did against Wayne County, rolling up more than 370 yards of offense.

“The first thing that stands out is their explosiveness on offense,” he said. “Their offensive line blocked well. Their quarterback threw it well. They have a command of that offense. We know they have an explosive offense.”

Bradwell’s offense had 13 plays that gained at least 10 yards in their opening 49-20 loss to Wayne County, ranked No. 6 in Class AAAA.

“I think the sky’s the limit for this offense,” Brock said. “We have to continue to get better and execute at a higher rate.”

The old coaching bromide that teams improve the most from week one to week two may get a thorough test Friday night. As for Glazer, he also believes that teams don’t stay the same – they’re either headed in a positive or negative direction.

“Monday was really a positive day,” he said. “The focus was what it needed to be. The energy was what it needed to be.”

Brock believes his team is on its way to playing better than it did against Wayne County.

“We saw the mistakes we made,” he said. “We made the corrections. I think that we will show that growth, show that improvement.”

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