Panthers have something to proveBy Drew Granthum Published 10:02pm Thursday, November 8, 2012
Some teams view the playoffs as a chance to continue riding a hot streak to a possible championship. Others see it as walking a tightrope, knowing one mistake can cost them every second of hard work put into a season.
Then there are a few teams that view the postseason as a chance to show the world what they are truly capable of.
Such is the case with the Jemison Panthers.
The Panthers’ season can best be described as a tale of two teams: one that dropped its last four games going into the postseason, and one that has the ability to shut down even the biggest powerhouse, as it did against Bibb County on Sept. 21.
Despite their recent struggles, the Panthers (5-5) are in the postseason, and coach Merritt Bowden said he feels another week of practice might just be what they need to play up to the level they’ve demonstrated this year.
“It gives us another week to get better,” he said. “[It gives another week] to try to play well.”
The curious thing about the team the Panthers will face, Central-Clay County, is that the program is brand new; the Volunteers have lost just one game all year, dropping their last regular season game to Madison Academy, 33-7.
Despite being a new opponent, Bowden said the Volunteers are typical of the competition awaiting the Panthers in the playoffs.
“They’ve got size, speed and do things well,” he said. “They’re very physical. To do well in the playoffs, you’ve got to face teams like that. We look forward to the challenge.”
The lack of room for error, and keeping the turnover margin down, were the two things he felt would be key in the game.
“It comes down to execution,” he said. “We’ve got to eliminate mistakes. The past two to three games we made crucial mistakes. We have to control the ball and get a takeaway or two on defense.”
The Panthers will be on the road for the first round. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 9. in Lineville.
WHO WILL WIN?
Jemison has lost four consecutive games, and it’s not easy for a team to break out of a losing streak, especially on the road in the playoffs. But the Panthers have been close for the most part. If they can play Friday with confidence and focus, they’ll pull off an upset.
Pick: Jemison | Picks record: 47-17
ALSO FRIDAY NIGHT
Saraland (7-3) at Chilton Co. (9-1)
Saraland could provide stiff competition for Chilton County, but as they Tigers demonstrated last week, they know how to pull out a win. Pick: Chilton Co.
Billingsley (7-3) at Loachapoka (6-4)
Homefield advantage will be significant in this game, but Billingsley comes into the game with momentum, having won four straight. Pick: Billingsley
Winterboro (3-7) at Maplesville (9-1)
Winterboro hasn’t won many games, but they’ve won the right ones, earning a playoff berth. Maplesville is a bad place to look for another win. Pick: Maplesville