Three is the charm.
With the 2021 GHSA state football playoffs kicking off in two weeks on Friday, Nov. 12, the Richmond Hill Wildcats, Liberty County Panthers, and Long County Blue Tide are all playoff bound for their classifications.
For context, along with the three teams listed, the Bryan County News and Coastal Courier also covers football for the Bryan County Redskins and the Bradwell Institute Tigers. But those teams have fell short at entering the playoff picture for this season. But three out of the five high school football programs in our coverage area (one for every county) is great for high school football in this vicinity, for the community, and regarding sports coverage.
Now, let’s take a dive into the teams that will be playing beyond Nov. 5, which is the final day of regular season football.
Richmond Hill Wildcats (3-5, 3-2 Region 2-6A): After a horrendous performance at No. 10 Brunswick on Oct. 15, losing 42-7, the Wildcats returned for the final regular season home game last week to play Glynn Academy. The Wildcats did something that has haunted them all season; finished a close game. The 14-7 win over Glynn Academy was the first game that the Wildcats prevailed in that was decided by a touchdown or less. They were previously 0-2. Beating Glynn has the Wildcats with the final playoff spot to represent Region 2-6A and they have made it virtually impossible to drop out of the playoff picture, holding tiebreakers over Effingham and Glynn. The Wildcats can even jump up to No. 2 in the region, giving them a home playoff game only if they defeat South Effingham on Friday (which I anticipate) along with Effingham and Statesboro losing out in their final two games. The Wildcats have been unbeatable at home with all their wins coming at Wildcat Stadium. They have had an up and down season and it will be interesting to see where the chips fall at the conclusion of the regular season for Matt LeZotte’s Wildcats’ playoff fate.
Liberty County Panthers (4-3, 4-1 Region 3-3A): Remember when I said, “Dress it up and make it real for him,” regarding the Liberty County Panthers needing to win the Region 3-3A for Kirk Warner’s 20th season as head coach? Well, guess what? They’re No. 1 in the region and will most likely finish as such as long as they defeat Beach on Friday. Which I think will be a win for the Panthers. It all started when they defeated Johnson in overtime on Sept. 23 then followed up by knocking off the Southeast Bulloch in a come from behind victory at home. The Panthers held the number one spot with Windsor Forest until WF rained on their parade, beating them 12-6 and overtaking the No. 1 spot. Coach Warner said that he wasn’t all about scoreboard watching but they would do it for the simple fact of knowing where they are in the standings. I’m sure he was elated to see Windsor Forest drop to Johnson 26-6 and relinquishing the region lead to the Panthers with two weeks to spare in the season. A simple win by the Panthers on Friday over Beach will clinch them as the region champions to begin the roaring 20’s of Warner’s tenure as Liberty County Panthers Head Coach.
Long County Blue Tide (4-5, 1-2 Region 1-3A): Spirits are high in Ludowici. Blue Tide football has clinched a spot in the postseason for the first time in program history under the leadership of rookie head coach Mike Pfiester. They did it. But I know they want more. The Blue Tide are now No. 3 in the region with one game left in the regular season that will be against Tattnall County. The lowest they can drop is No. 4 if Brantley or Tattnall jumps them in the standings. But those teams have the top two teams in the region on their schedule this week. The Blue Tide haven’t been very consistent this season, but they’ve done enough to get to where they needed to be. This is the pilot of successful football at Long County. So, there will be some bumps in the road. But if they check all the boxes of the goals they made prior to the season; it will be labeled as a success. They’re chilling this Friday. But on Nov. 5, they will finish the regular season against region opponent Tattnall County.