There is one thing that you can count on this time of year. Everybody left in the playoffs is a good football team. The field of 32 was cut in half last week. The 2nd round of the AA State Playoffs will continue this Friday night and the Panthers will face an outstanding Chesterfield team led by maybe the best overall athlete that the Panthers have faced yet this season.
Savion Watson is the name you’ll hear Panther PA announcer Craig Gagnon announce into the chilly night air, from the historic press box in Hite Stadium. #15 Watson, a 6’1″ 205lb senior, is the definition of a dual threat quarterback. He’s thrown for 3,215 yards this season. He’s also tossed 38 touchdown passes against only 9 interceptions. Watson is a running threat as well with 474 rushing yards and 11 touchdown runs. If you haven’t done the math yet, he’s accounted for 49 total touchdowns so far this season. The cast around him his good too. Ricky Lockhart is a 6’0″ 200lb wide receiver and he’s hauled in 43 of Watson’s passes for 1,028 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. The main receiving target on the Golden Rams offense is Shyhiem Rivers. He has 60 catches for 1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Golden Rams, as you can see likes to throw it around the park. Yet, they are still balanced offensively. James McBride is small in stature, but the 5’3″ running back has amassed 915 rushing yards and punched it in the end zone twice this season. The Rams average 39.3 points per game while giving up 20.9 points on defense.
Abbeville head coach Jamie Nickles said “If you want to see a basketball game on grass,
come out to Hite Stadium Friday night. These two teams are going to be ripping up and down the field.” That tells you about all you need to know. The Panthers attack defenses a little differently than their 2nd round counterparts. Panther fans near and far know that the boys from A-Town like to run it left, right and up the middle. They run it at you, around you and if need be, through you. The Panthers have four ball carriers averaging 6.5 yards per carry or better. All with over 70 carries on the season. The Panthers are averaging 39.4 points per game while giving up 14.1 points per game on defense.
That yards per carry average will be a big stat to watch Friday night. With Chesterfield having such an explosive, quick strike kind of offense, the Panthers will use their pound and ground to chew up the clock and control the tempo of the game. The Hogmollies will be counted on heavily in this game. The Panther offensive line should be back to full strength Friday night. Trai Jones and Jake Hill should return from injury, joining their Hogmollie brothers Connor Nickles, Griffin Lewis and Jacob Stone. The Panther defense will face a big challenge as well. Maintaining their pass rush lanes, and keeping the Golden Rams QB in the pocket will be a key to victory. Watson is dangerous when he escapes the pocket and still has a run/pass option.
Pack the Hite Panther fans. Chesterfield is travelling over 3 hours to be here. That tells me they won’t bring a huge crowd. Let’s give our Panthers the best home field advantage possible, as they continue their march to their third straight State Championship and 9th overall. But, you can’t win State without winning Round 2.
God Bless and Go Panthers.