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Panthers gear up for Week 1 against Prattville Christian

The remainder of the football teams in Butler County will officially kick off their 2015 campaigns next week, but the Georgiana Panthers will face the Friday night lights for real in just two days.

The Panthers will take on Prattville Christian Academy at home in their season opener, and head coach Ezell Powell doesn’t mind diving headfirst without a jamboree game.

“To me, it works out well,” Powell said.

“The way our schedule is set up, we’ve got two non-region games that really don’t count towards area play and going off into the playoffs.  If something doesn’t go right in the first two weeks, its not as detrimental to you as starting off with area games.

“It gives us a good chance to get mistakes worked out over the first couple of weeks, because the third game starts our area play, and it’ll have us ready to go from there.”

Last year saw the Panthers facing Prattville Christian under similar circumstances.  A veteran team of 10 seniors led Georgiana to a convincing 40-3 win.  But the situation has changed for this year’s team.

“We have a bunch of 10th graders and ninth graders that are going to have to play, so the situation is completely different than it was last year,” Powell said.

“Last year, Prattville Christian’s coach took the job at the end of May, so he didn’t have long with his guys before we got a chance to play them.  Then, you also have to take into account that they’ve been with him for a year and they know the system a little bit better, so I’m looking for a better ball club than we faced last year.”

Powell and the rest of the Panthers’ coaching staff are treating the matchup as an extended evaluation period, though it’s still a contest the team very much wants to win.

But it also gives the coaches an opportunity to evaluate how the team’s less-experienced players deal with the pressure of a starting position.

“A lot of these young kids haven’t been the ones who are counted on during Friday nights on a consistent basis,” Powell said.

“Most of the time, they’ve been spot players or role players here and there, and some of them are finding out how difficult it really is to be that guy on a consistent basis versus being that role player.  There’s some growing and a lot of learning that still has to be done, but we’re up for the challenge and we’re going to go out and do the best we can.”