Game three of the 2018 season has the Abbeville Panthers (2-0) facing off against a familiar foe. The 3A Emerald Vikings (0-2) campus sits only about 14 miles from Abbeville’s. Separated by a county line, it’s a natural rivalry game for the two schools who have played each other every year since 1996. The Panthers own a 16-7 all-time record versus the Vikings. All but two of Emerald’s wins have been at home, inside of Frank Hill Stadium, the site of Friday night’s match-up. The Panthers took care of the Vikings last season with a 56-21 win at Hite Stadium. Emerald made a run to the 3A Upperstate Championship game later that season, after winning their Region, and eventually losing to Chapman, capping 10-4 season.
The Vikings have been tasked with replacing nearly 3,700 yards of offense from last season. With Keshawn Settles and Treshawn Chamberlain gone, the Vikings are still trying to find that one-two punch in the backfield that led to last seasons success. The Vikings were ranked #2 in the pre-season polls, just behind the unanimous #1 Dillion. Two losses to open the season now has Emerald looking for answers and hoping for a game that can turn their season around. Luke Deal got a lot of the press this summer with his announcement to play college football at Auburn after a lengthy recruiting process. The 6’5″ 240lb tight end/linebacker is surrounded by other talented players that possess what you’d want in a team, size, speed and experience. With 29 upperclassmen on the roster, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Head Coach Tim McMahon finds the right recipe to get Emerald back on the winning side of things. McMahon who is 59-50 in his 10th season will be leaning on a “power I” offense and a defense that is big and multiple. Zack Amerson, a Liberty University commit will get the bulk of the carries while Jamil Martin, a senior speedster is their change of pace back. Martin was injured and did not play in their 47-7 loss versus TL Hanna last week. #1 Kedarren Dean is the senior quarterback that directs the offense and #24 Nick Sheets is a big contributor on defense. Emerald is big, really big. Multiple 300 pounders are the reason that Coach McMahon pointed toward his offensive line in the offseason as the strength of his offense.
The Panthers meanwhile have sailed thorough their first two games. They’ve averaged 53 points per game and have yet to allow a point. The loaded offensive backfield for the Panthers have barely broken a sweat this season. JD Moore, junior quarterback has 15 carries on the season, which leads all players in carries. That’s an unusual stat,15
carries is hardly a heavy work load for one game, much less two games. The Panther defense have been so disruptive and physically dominate this season, that the Panther offense has rarely had to navigate a drive starting on their side of the field.
Panther Head Coach Jamie Nickles never misses a moment to test and teach his team. The message this week is adversity. “I’m curious to see how we respond to adversity. It could come on the first drive versus Emerald. It could come late in the 4th quarter. You just never know, but every team will face adversity eventually and that’s how you can judge the fabric of a team, how they respond to adversity.” Coach Nickles said.
Can the Panthers keep up the impressive start to the season? Will they respond positively, should adversity strike? Only time will tell. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm at Frank Hill Stadium on the campus of Emerald High School. There is a clear bag policy and metal detectors in place at Emerald. Make sure you arrive early to avoid any delays at the entrances. You may also buy tickets in advance by following this link…
As always….God Bless and Go Panthers!