Difficult matches ahead for area football teams
Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2015
By MICHAEL MURRAY
Local football teams certainly have their work cut out for them this weekend, as the Americus-Sumter Panthers and the Schley County Wildcats prepare to host a couple of experienced teams, the Bainbridge Bearcats and the Central High Hawks on Oct. 2. Southland Academy will be on the road this weekend, heading to Valdosta to take on the Valwood Valiants.
With the Southland Raiders coming off a hard-fought come from behind 51-23 road loss to the Brookwood Warriors in Thomasville last week, they will be looking to break their two-game skid against the Valiants. The home team isn’t going to make it easy, however, as they will be bringing 14 senior players to the field to lend their experience in defending Valwood’s record.
It goes without saying that an upset in this match would give the Raiders a huge boost. If they hope to accomplish this, the Raiders will need to bring everything they have to the field to uproot the Valiants from their first-place seat in region 3-IAAA.
With Southland’s Townsend Ray contributing two touchdowns last week, one of which he gained on a 77-yard run, Raider fans should look for him to be a major factor in this weekend’s match. Stephen Turton, after adding 80 rushing yards last week, will likely be called upon as a main ball carrier this week as well. Alex Roach’s quarterback skills, which helped him break through Brookwood’s defensive line last week for the team’s second touchdown against the Warriors, will come into play in this week’s test also. Roach will need a steady hand to consistently connect with the team’s receivers and gain the kind of yardage that it will take to keep the Valiants on their toes. In addition to all of this, the Raiders will likely benefit from the nimble hands of Jamaal Rice and Josiah Copland, who joined Ray and Turton as the team’s pass catchers in last week’s match.
Schley, coming off of a hard loss to last season’s state semi-finalists, the Marion County Eagles, will be spending this week polishing their game for Friday’s match against Central.
With both teams looking for their first region win of the season, the Wildcats will be relying on some of the team’s toughest ground gainers, including Calvin Sims and Alec Harris, to lead the way. On the defensive side, with Jake Hall and Wade Rodgers leading the team in tackles last week, the Wildcats will be looking for them to rack up even more hard stops as they battle for field position against Central.
The Americus-Sumter Panthers, fresh off of a bye week that followed a proper thrashing of Albany High, will see some of the toughest competition that the team is likely to encounter this season as they face region 1-AAAA frontrunner, Bainbridge. The Bearcats are currently 4-0 in region play and have not given up more than two touchdowns in a game yet this season.
Bainbridge wil be bringing 18 senior players and nearly twice as many junior players to Finklea-Robinson Field to lend their experience in defending the team’s unblemished record.
The Panthers have a slew of talented players on their roster and it looks like each and every one of them will have to bring their absolute best to the field if they hope to unseat the Bearcats.