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Round One Preview

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Photo courtesy of Shawn Knox images.

It’s time to turn the page to Phase 3 of the season. It’s playoff time. All of those February days in the weight room. Those spring conditioning drills. The hot summer days at practice, melting away under the sweltering sun. All of those days matter. They matter because they lead you to this time, this place, this phase. The Playoffs. Win or go home. Sudden death each and every week. Who has the will to continue? Who has the will to push through bumps and bruises? Who can handle adversity and pressure packed situations? 32 teams start their march tonight. But only one can hoist that State Championship trophy on December 1st. Only one team can have their names written forever in the history books. That march starts tonight at Hite Stadium – Dennis Botts Field as the back to back defending State Champ, #1 seed Abbeville Panthers will host the #4 seed St. Joseph Catholic Knights at 7:30pm.

St. Joe’s will come into The Hite tonight with a first year head coach Brandon Bennett. Some of you will recognize that name. Bennett was a running back for the University of South Carolina. He also played in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Carolina Panthers. His Knights will be bringing a 4-6 record with them. They finished 3rd in Region 1 AA. The Knights will spread the field offensively, meaning they will line up with four and five wide receivers. Yet their main goal will be to run the football. Their feature back is a 6’1″ 210lbs running back by the name of, Brandon Bennett Jr. The coaches son wears #2 and he will get the bulk of the carries. The Panthers and the Knights have two common opponents on the season. Both squads have played Southside Christian and Woodruff. The Panthers defeated both SSC and Woodruff, while St Joes dropped both contests 51-13 to SSC and 49-13 to Woodruff. St. Joe’s is limping in the playoffs. They have had some injuries, like most teams this time of year. A depleted roster and a lack of

Panther defender Tyrese Paul makes a big hit on a Ninety Six ball carrier

Panther defender Tyrese Paul makes a big hit on a Ninety Six ball carrier

depth have caused them to lose their last three. The Knights have averaged 22.1 points per game this season and given up 29.3 points per game. The Knights will have to bring their A++ game tonight to deal with the speed, size and physicality of the Panthers.

A-Town is beat up. Point blank period. There will be a handful of starters that miss tonight’s game due to injury. Some more serious than others, however, a true test of quality depth will be on display tonight. Trai Jones and Jake Hill will be game time decisions. Both are college quality offensive linemen. Dooley Sanders, the lightning quick wide receiver and kick returner, who did not dress out last week will also be a game time decision. The Panther defense will be counted on tonight to stop the St. Joe’s attack and put the offense in good field position. On the flip side, the Panthers will try to control the line of scrimmage and methodically chew up game clock by running the football and imposing their will physically.

The winner of tonight’s game will get to play the winner of the Chesterfield/Fox Creek game played tonight in Chesterfield.

God Bless and Go Panthers!