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FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW: Panthers no homecoming fodder

Published 7:00pm Thursday, September 19, 2013

High school football teams usually pick a date for homecoming carefully.

The middle of the season is desirable, of course, after the weather has started to cool but before it has turned to cold.

Perhaps even more of a factor in the decision is the desire to play a winnable game for homecoming because nothing spoils the festivities like a loss.

So, don’t think it went unnoticed in the Jemison locker room that the Panthers will be visiting Bibb County this week for the Choctaws’ homecoming.

“You never want to lose your homecoming, and you never want to be picked for somebody’s homecoming,” JHS coach Jake Hogan said.

Jemison defeated Bibb County in 2012, 18-7, but perhaps decision-makers figured the Panthers would be more vulnerable in 2013 with a first-year coach trying to replace several crucial contributors from last season.

But the Panthers are off to an impressive 3-0 start and aren’t looking to slow down anytime soon, especially since Friday’s contest will break up the three-team tie at the top of the Class 4A, Region 4 standings.

“Three-and-oh in the region is huge because you control your own destiny,” Hogan said.

Traditionally a program that pounds opponents into submission with a powerful running game, Hogan said Bibb County this season has spread out its attack to try to take advantage of its speed on the outside.

Still, Hogan said this year’s game, like so many others in the past, will be determined by which team plays better in the trenches.

“If you look at years past, whoever controls the line of scrimmage in this game tends to win,” he said. “They’re Bibb County: big and fast. The biggest thing we’ve got to do is take care of us. As long as we’re executing the way we need to, we’ll be fine.”

The Choctaws’ attacking defense will be the stiffest challenge of the season for a Jemison offensive line that features several new starters and that is still trying to develop chemistry.

Returning starters Joseph Hall and Brandon Stokes have provided leadership, and newcomers Alex Aldrich and Clay Cunningham have progressed. Sidney Griffin was forced into playing time with Dakota Harris missing last week’s win at Carbon Hill, so Harris’ return this week means the Panthers have developed depth within the unit.

The win last week was closer than the 39-12 score would indicate, as the margin was just 13-6 midway through the third quarter before Jemison pulled away.

“We came out a little bit flatter than I’d like, but we executed well at the end and got a good win,” Hogan said. “Those coaches at Carbon Hill have those kids believing. We ended up having some explosive plays that opened it up for us. That was the difference.”

The Panthers were also slowed by two interceptions thrown by quarterback Kevin Nunn, but Hogan said the sophomore didn’t hang his head and let the mistakes affect him the rest of the game.

“He recovered well,” the coach said. “He was hot and cold at times. The good news was that we got the chance to see how he would deal with a little bit of adversity.”

Who will win the Jemison-Bibb Co. game?

  • Jemison (79%, 11 Votes)
  • Bibb Co. (21%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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Akron (2-1) at Maplesville (3-0)

Akron faces a tall order: walking into George Walker Jr. Stadium and trying to pull off a victory against a Maplesville team that has allowed a combined six points in three games.

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