The Abbeville Panthers secured their 26th Region Championship this past Friday night with a dominate 42-7 victory over region rival Ninety Six. The Panthers left no doubt as they scored early and often. Bryce Jackson saved his best passing game of the season for the Homecoming showdown with the Wildcats. Jackson finished the night 8-10 for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. Running back, Junior Rapley caught two of those touchdown tosses which covered 101 yards collectively. Rapley also moved ahead of Dooley Sanders for the leading receiving spot on the stat sheet. Rapley has rushed for 607 yards and 8 touchdowns this season. He has caught 15 passes for 389 yards and 4 touchdowns. Also, Rapley has added 239 punt return yards and 79 kickoff return yards on the season. His grand total yards from scrimmage is 1,314 total yards and 12 total
touchdowns. The numbers and accolades are a testament to the scrappy, never-quit, fighting for every inch, tenacity that Rapley plays with on every down. Touchdown runs were added by Jermaine Blackwell, who has stepped in very well for the injured Courtney Jackson, and another touchdown run was added by budding star Dominick “The Bus” Washington. Congrats to Malik Washington on his first touchdown reception of the year as well.
The Panther defense was just plain nasty Friday night as well. Big hits, constantly playing behind the line of scrimmage, tight coverage in the secondary, running in packs to the football. It’s a defense coordinator’s dream scenario. DC Tad Dubose put the Panthers in position to give up less than 200 total yards of offense and held the Wildcat quarterbacks to 3 of 14 passing for a miniscule 8 yards. That kind of defensive dominance is what will take you deep into the playoffs. The Panthers will be leaning on leading tacklers Malik Leach (99 total tackles), Dee Graham (98 total tackles), and Nate Temple (64 total tackles) to keep up the focused pressure on future playoff opponents. The Panther defense is only giving up 15 points per game. When you have an offense dropping 39.2 points per game, that spells wins. And let’s not fool our selves, Abbeville has played one of the toughest schedules in the state regardless of classification. The Panthers have played and beaten three 2A playoff teams, a #4 3A playoff team (Clinton) and beaten a #1 3A seed (Emerald). Lincoln Co will make the Georgia State playoffs and the only blemish on this this years record is a seven point loss to #1 seed 4A Hartsville. You’ve all heard the cliché, “Defense wins championships”. Well, this team has been tried and tested by fire and walked out smelling like a rose. Needless to say, I like our chances.
The Panther will host the St. Joseph’s Catholic Knights on Friday night. I’ll post a full round one preview later in the week. I’ve also attached a bracket for you to refer to has the playoffs progress.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a big congratulations to Emily Anna Smith (Maid of Honor) and Meg Botts, our 2017 Homecoming Queen. What an honor to be crowned the Queen on a field that bares her grandfather’s name.
God Bless and Go Panthers!