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Within Striking Distance: Panthers going for region lead against Windsor Forest
Carlos Singleton
Carlos Singleton drops back for a pass against Johnson - photo by Gerald Thomas III

The time is now for the Liberty County Panthers.

After knocking off the undefeated Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets, who looked to be the Region 3-3A champions this season in a comeback victory on Oct. 1, the Panthers are now in play to take over the region lead Friday against Windsor Forest.

The Panthers (2-2, 2-0 Region 3-3A) are on a two-game winning streak as they travel to Savannah to take on Windsor Forest (2-2, 1-0 Region 3-3A) to take control of the region.

Down 20-6 in the third quarter against Southeast Bulloch, the Panthers put together two scores to send the Yellow Jackets back to Brooklet with a 28-20 loss for their second consecutive late and gutsy victory.

“Everything that could go wrong went wrong in the first half,” Panthers Head Coach Kirk Warner said about his team’s last performance. “We drop about six or seven balls. Penalties plagued us every time we got something going. But the second half, we took the opening kickoff and scored. Then they got two touchdowns within a minute’s time – then they’re up 20-6 midway in the third quarter. Our guys could’ve folded. Our coaches could’ve lost their composure. We knew our offense could move the ball, so we started hitting some big plays in the passing game. Defense bowed up and didn’t give up a touchdown after those two quick ones and the rest was history. It was a total team effort.”

The Knights are coming off a shootout 46-38 loss against New Hampstead, who is said to be the top team in the Savannah football.

The Panthers and the Knights have a high chance of being two of the top three teams in Region 3-3A.

To begin the season, the Panthers only put up 12 total points over their first two games.

Since their two-game winning streak, they have averaged 25 points per game.

They allowed 32.5 points over their first two contests – that dropped to 20 points per in their last two games.

“That’s just a testament to our kids and administration,” Warner said. “They got us in a football weightlifting class. To be honest, if we weren’t in that football weightlifting class, we would lose four quarter games like that. Our administration is behind us. They’re putting our kids in the class. We just got to build off the momentum and keep our kids levelheaded and even keel. That was a win, but this week is the most important game on the schedule because it’s the next game. So, we’re going to work on what we did wrong. We got to cut down on the penalties because it’s absolutely killing our offensive drives. That’s the main point of focus this week.”

The Knights have averages 24.25 per game after scoring a season high 38 against New Hampstead.

Their opponents average 25.5.

“Offensively we’re going to do what we do,” Warner said about putting his team in a position to succeed against Windsor. “We’re going to go into our power game and try to take our shots down the field when the opportunity arises. It’s based on what they’re going to do. Once we get the feel of the game and see what they’re doing, we’re going to try to attack what we think are weak spots based on what we saw on film. Defensively, we just got to stay aggressive and control the line of scrimmage – which we’ve done in the second half of the last two games. We just got to get that complete game and control the line of scrimmage from quarter No. 1 to quarter No. 4.”

A win for the Panthers would put them in the driver seat for the No. 1 spot in Region 3-3A as they attempt to secure a region crown in Warner’s 20th season for the first time since 2017.

“We had some good years leading up to ’17,” Warner said. “These guys have never won a region championship so they’re hungry. If we can accomplish that, it will be the first major championship that most of these kids have ever been involved in so we’re treating as such. But again, we’re treating as the next game. That’s how we have to approach it.”

The game will take place at Pooler Recreation Complex at 7:30 on Oct. 8.

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