Today, we sit just two weeks away from the unofficial kickoff of the 2017 football season as the WCTEL Kickoff Classic is coming up on August 4th. Hang in there guys, we’re almost there!
Today I’m going to look at the last four regular season games on the schedule and give my Way Too Early Predictions. Let’s get started.
Week Six: A-Town vs Hartsville @ Newberry College
What a game this turned out to be last year. At the time Hartsville was ranked #1 in AAAA and boy did they look the part. They were big, fast and arrived at Newberry College with some attitude. There was some chatting going on pre-game from the Red Fox players. And it wasn’t, “Hey, nice to meet you. How’s your family?” or “Boy I hope it’s a good game tonight” The big AAAA Red Foxes were a little over confident and obviously didn’t know that A-Town doesn’t get intimidated by the number of A’s or the ranking beside your name. We all know that David slayed Goliath in the Old Testament and, it happened again on that September night in Newberry as the Panthers took down the AAAA power 32-21. Hartsville had averaged 50.5 points per game and over 300 yards rushing prior to the contest. A bar that was never reached vs. the nasty Panther defense.
What to expect: Unless the Red Foxes have short term memory loss, they will be out for revenge. They see last year’s defeat as a loss to an inferior opponent and an embarrassment. They over looked Abbeville last season and I fully expect Hartsville to come out swinging. Will it matter? Abbeville exposed some weaknesses offensively and defensively on the bigger Hartsville team. I know it’s cliché, but expect a game for the ages on September 29th. You might want to get to Newberry College a couple hours early for this one. This will be a game that you’ll remember for years to come.
Prediction: A-Town 21 – Hartsville 20
Week Seven A-Town @ Liberty
The Panthers will have to heal quickly after what’s sure to be a tough physical game vs Hartsville as they hit the road to take on the third team of Red Devils this season. Last year Liberty had a great season. They finished 8-5 and made it to the 3rd round of the playoffs before losing to Saluda. A tough senior laden defense was their calling card last year. The Panthers haven’t lost to Liberty since 1989, which is a 15 game winning streak versus the Red Devils. Last year they won 31-0 and squashed the Red Devils hopes of a Region championship.
What to expect: Honestly, much of the same. The Panthers, by this point in the season will be looking at this game, the first Region game of the year, as a business trip. You go down the road, take care of business and come back home. A stifling defense, a ball control offense mixed in with a big play here and there will spell success for the Panthers.
Prediction: A-Town 30 – Liberty 6
Week Eight Southside Christian @ A-Town
The second Region game of the year for Abbeville and they will know what to expect going into this one. The Sabers like to throw it around the yard and the Panthers had a hard time putting them away last year. The game was closer maybe than it should have been, until the Panthers got a key interception and put the nail in the coffin. Southside’s first trip to Hite Stadium may not be a very hospitable one.
What to expect: After giving up some yards and points through the air last season, I expect the Panther defense to rush the quarterback and play tight in the defensive secondary. All the while, allowing their offense to chew up yards and the clock. If SSC throws a pick or two, this one could get ugly. The Panthers could potentially wrap up a 26th region championship on this night, inside Hite Stadium.
Prediction: A-Town 52 – SSC 14
Week Nine Ninety Six @ A-Town
I’ll be honest. I don’t love the book end schedule. It’s hard to beat a team once. It’s definitely hard to beat a team twice in the same season. I’d rather open the season with a gimme game, like they do in college football, but scheduling is tough and there’s not a ton of teams chomping at the bit to play the Panthers in the non-region portion of their schedule. So, this game is the one that really counts. But, for a rivalry game like Abbeville/96, they all count. This one will definitely have playoff and region championship implications. A Panther win could mean home field throughout the playoffs, another trophy in the trophy case and bragging rights for another year.
What to expect: If you’ve read all of these prediction articles, you can see that I have the Panthers undefeated headed into this game. And when the final whistle blows about 9:30pm on Friday October 27th, I fully expect the Panthers to wrap up an undefeated regular season, capturing their 26th region championship and going wire to wire as the #1 team in AA. When the train gets’ta rollin, it’s hard to stop. Look for your typical Panther performance. Tough, physical, hard hitting defense. Fast, physical, smart, offense. The Panthers will roll in this one and start the 4th phase of the season. The Championship Phase.
Prediction: A-Town 38 – Ninety Six 12
That wraps up our Way Too Early Prediction articles. Keep an eye out for more articles as the season approaches. The Panther coaches are attending coaching clinics the first part of next week. Regular season practice will being next Friday as the Panther will put pre-season work outs behind them and start prepping for the season.
Don’t forget to come to the WCTEL Kickoff Classic on Friday August 4th. The FREE tailgating will begin on the practice fields behind Hite Stadium at 5pm with the games to follow at 6.
“All About the A: Faith, Family, Football, Forever to Thee” a book about the 100 year history of Abbeville Panther Football will be available, inside Hite Stadium at 5:30pm. Get your autographed copy there! And you can meet the oldest living Panther, Horace Beauford, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient from WWII.
God Bless and Go Panthers!