July is a wonderful, yet terrible month. Wonderful for all that July has to offer. Hot summer days, beach trips, family bar-b-ques, 4th of July celebrations. Honestly, July has just about everything you could ask for, except one thing. Football. For those of us that are chomping at the bit to see the “toe touch the leather”, July can be a long and painful month to navigate through. All of the pre-season college football magazines are out. I call this the “reading period” of the football season. All of the analysts are making predictions and proclamations as to what and who and when. So I thought we could do the same. We’ll start with weeks Zero through Two.
Abbeville @ Ninety Six – Week Zero
I’m not sure who came up with the week zero title, but it’s a little confusing. Nonetheless, the Panthers will open the regular season with a conference foe, and long time rival, the Ninety Six Wildcats. However, this game won’t count as a region game. The Panthers and Wildcats will square off against each other twice this season, as they did last season. The last game of the year will count as a region game with playoff implications.
Last season the Panthers defeated Ninety Six under the direction of former Head Coach Mike Doolittle, 26-7 in the season opener and 27-0 in the last game of the season. Ninety Six has a new head coach, Andre Woolcock and he’s looking to turn around a rivalry, that historically, hasn’t been much of a rivalry. The Panthers are 37-12 all-time versus the Wildcats. The Panthers had won 7 in a row, until the Wildcats broke that streak in 2012, and subsequently reeled off 4 wins in a row over the Panthers. The longest such winning streak for the Wildcats, in the history of the rivalry. The Panthers have now won 3 straight and will have a chance to add to that total on August 18th.
My prediction: The Panthers will win, but with it being week zero, the score may not jump off of the page at you.
A-Town 20 – Ninety Six 6
A-Town @ Woodruff – Week One
Woodruff was, at one time, the thorn in the playoff side of the Panthers for years. In 1972,73,76,78,79, and 1980 the Wolverines bounced the Panthers from the playoffs. In those six games, the Wolverines never gave up more than 15 points and pitched two shut outs. We’re long removed from the Willie Varner days now, but there is still a little something special in the air when Woodruff comes to town. Or in this case, when A-Town rolls into Woodruff. Over the last ten years, the Panthers and Wolverines have played six times. The record, 3-3. Doesn’t get much more even than that. Well, maybe it does. The average score of the last six meetings… 27-26 in favor of Woodruff. Are we in for another nail biting shootout? Or will the Panthers roll like they did last year 28-0? Only time will tell.
My Prediction: The wide open spread offense of Woodruff and the grind it out, A-Bone will clash in a game of varying styles. However, I think clock control, and a stout Panther defense, especially the secondary, will come away with a win.
A-Town 32 – Woodruff 21
Emerald @ A-Town – Week Two
Yet another rivalry game in week two for the Panthers. It seems like every week brings on another rival. Week two of the season will be no different when Vikings of Emerald High make that 14 mile trip down Hwy 72, and into Hite Stadium. The Panthers enjoy a 15-7 all-time record versus the Vikings. Emerald and Abbeville have played every year since 1996. Emerald now in the 3A classification is coming off of a disappointing 4-8 record a season ago. With nearly 1,000 students, double the size of the Panthers enrollment, the Vikings are looking for revenge. However, that’s easier said than done. The last two seasons, 28-7 and 34-0 victories for the Panthers, proved that school size doesn’t necessarily equate wins.
My Prediction: The Panthers, entering the third game of the season should be beginning to gel and have some chemistry offensively and defensively. If that’s the case, that spells trouble for the Vikings, again.
A-Town 38 – Emerald 12
Check back with ATownPanthers.com for more updates and more predictions as the season nears. Don’t forget about the West Carolina Kickoff Classic on August 4th 6pm at Hite Stadium – Dennis Botts Field for the unofficial start of the 2017 season.
God Bless and Go Panthers!