The back to back 2A State Champs have extended their unbeaten streak to a state best, regardless of classification, 28 games. The Panthers rolled Clinton 49-12 last week, and the A-Train rolls into Prosperity, SC this coming Friday night to take on the Mid Carolina Rebels.
Rebel head coach Louie Alexander has his hands full getting the Rebs ready to take on a Panther team that is clicking on all cylinders. The Rebels are winless this season. They were winless last season. In fact, the last game that Mid Carolina won was on October 23rd of 2015 versus Eau Claire High in Columbia. That’s 17 in a row. So, Friday night is a game of two streaks, a team on the top of the mountain, and a team looking up from the cellar. There’s plenty of history between these two schools however. The Panthers are 20-10 all time versus Mid Carolina. The Panthers have won 8 in a row in the series, with the last Panther loss coming in 1997. Last season the Panthers beat Mid Carolina at Hite Stadium, 37-7. The Rebels participate in class 3A Region 3 with the likes of Chapman, Newberry, Broome, Woodruff, and Clinton. Friday’s game versus A-town is the last non-region game on the schedule for the Rebels this season.
The Panthers found some success through the air versus Clinton. Quarterback Bryce Jackson had touchdown passes to Dominick “The Bus” Washington and a 66 yarder to Jr. Rapley. At the halfway point in the season the Panther signal caller has 16 completions on 26 attempts for 309 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Panther running backs have had quite a season as well. Here are the mid season stats for the Panther offense.
#22 Courtney Jackson 38 rushes 383 yards 7 touchdowns 10.08 yards per carry
#8 Junior Rapley 46car – 362yds – 4tds – 7.87ypc
#3 Bryce Jackson 44car – 340yds – 4tds – 7.73ypc
#23 Jermaine Blackwell 27car – 213yds – 4tds – 7.89ypc
#21 Dominick Washington 29car – 166yds – 3tds – 5.72ypc
As you can see there are five players on offense, with a minimum of 20 carries who average over 5 yards per carry. That’s just short of amazing. A ton of credit goes to the Panther offensive line for blocking and grinding out those tough yards with the running backs. Connor Nickles, Jake Hill, Griffin Lewis, Jacob Stone and Trai Jones have been consistent, tough and overwhelming to opposing defenses this season.
Defensively the Panthers may have played their best game of the season in game number 5 last week versus Clinton. Malik Leach caused two turnovers, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Which, by the way, he just basically took the ball out of the Clinton ball carriers hands and started running the other way with it. Clinton rushed 51 times in that game and averaged less than 3 yards per carry. Defensive leaders at this point in the season look like this…
#4 Malik Leach 40 tackles – 16 assisted tackles – 2 tackles for loss – 2 recovered fumbles and 1 interception.
#34 Dee Graham 30tkl – 24ast – 1 sack – 1int
#6 Nate Temple 18tkl – 16ast – 5 TFL – 2 sacks
#5 Charles Holback 18tkl – 13ast – 1 TFL
While it would be easy to do, the Panthers must not overlook Mid Carolina. The most important game of the season, is the next game. That’s the mentality that the Panthers must take into Friday nights matchup. Everyone not on staff or not wearing a helmet on Friday night is already giddy with excitement about he matchup on September 29th at Newberry College when the Panthers will take on a revenge minded Hartsville team. See ya in Prosperity this Friday night. God Bless and Go Panthers!