A new week brings new challenges, and more questions. The main question is; When will the Panthers be tested this season? Abbeville has rolled through their first three opponents by a total combined score of 158-17. All three games have basically been over at halftime. Will this week be different? Let’s take a look at the Panthers Week 3 opponent, Southside Christian.
The Sabres, who are 2-1 on the season are a great looking group of young men. Big across both offensive and defensive lines, they have experience at all the key positions and most importantly, they are hungry. Led by Head Coach Mike Sonneborn, the Sabres are ready to prove they are among the elite in AA football. Sonneborn has some tools to work with. Southside Christian plays an up tempo, spread offense like you’d normally see on Saturday’s watching college football. #7 JW Hertzberg, a junior quarterback is big (6’3″ 220lbs) and has a cannon for an arm. He’s a good decision maker and has playmakers on the outside. #4 Bryson Cheek is a regular target for Hertzberg. The match-up between the Sabres wide receivers and the Panthers defensive secondary will be a fun one to watch. SSC also has a couple of running backs that they utilize for a balanced attack. #44 Mallroy Pickney (6’0″ 205lbs) is a bruising running back who gets tough yards between the tackles, while #6 Anthony McFadden is their change of pace back (5’7″ 180lbs) who can get to the second level of a defense in a hurry. The Sabres dropped a heartbreaker last week as they lost 28-27 to Woodruff. The Sabres are outscoring their opponents by an average of 30.6 to 14 this season. Defensively, SSC is again, big, fast and experienced. #42 JR Schroeder (6’1″ 215lbs) is a four year starter at linebacker and holds a lot of college offers. Overall the Sabres return 15 starters from a team that finished 10-2 last season.
Meanwhile, your back to back to back AA State Champ Abbeville Panthers have adopted a very workman like approach to this season. They seem unphased by their opponents or any hype that comes along with them. The theme last week from Head Coach Jamie Nickles was “adversity”. He wanted to see how the Panthers would respond to adversity. I’m not sure punting twice in three games constitutes adversity, but the Panthers seemed to respond. After blanking Lincoln County and Newberry, the Panthers gave up their first points of the season last week at Emerald. To say that the Panther defense is playing with a chip on their shoulder would be a mild understatement. This team doesn’t just want to win games. They want their names mentioned among the best that ever wore the Garnet and Gold. They’re off to a good start. The Panthers average final score in it’s first three games are 52.7 to 5.7. The defense is led by leading tackler #36 Tyreke Campbell who has 23 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a recovered fumble and a blocked punt. #53 junior defensive lineman Carson Smith has collected 21 tackles, 5 for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Nate Temple leads the team in sacks with four. Another amazing stat from this Panther team is that they are +11 in the turnover margin. Defensive Coordinator Tad Dubose has his group playing a very fast and physical brand of A-Town football.
Offensively the Panthers have hardly broken a sweat. Averaging 301.7 yards rushing per game at a 9.6 yard per carry clip, the Panthers have distributed the ball among 12 different ball carries this season. Leading rusher, quarterback
JD Moore (23 carries-265 yards-5 TD), has proved to be the perfect ball distributor in Offensive Coordinator Mark Smith‘s offense. Senior running back Courtney Jackson (17-197-4) is averaging 11.6 yards per carry this season, while fullback Dominick “the bus” Washington (15-154-1) and Ja’Bryan ‘Dooley’ Sanders (7-139-3) round out a dangerously explosive four-headed monster in the backfield for the Panthers. Sanders is averaging a ridiculous 19.9 yards per carry. The air attack has been a pleasant surprise for the Panthers this season as well. They can do more than just ground and pound. JD Moore has connected with Quad Woods (5 rec-77yds-2tds) Sanders, and Robin Crawford on touchdown passes this season. It’s a pick your poison scenario for opposing defenses. Stack the box with 9, or 10 defenders and the Panthers are capable of throwing it over the top. Only play 7 in the box to defend the pass and the Panther will pound out run after run with their big offensive line and stable full of running backs. It’s a great time to be a Panther.
Southside Christian will be having “Salute to Heroes Night” at Sabre Stadium. There will be free admission to all past and present First Responders/Military, their spouses and children. The stadium is located at 2211 Woodruff Road, Simpsonville, SC. Kickoff is 7:30pm. There are not very many seats on the visitors side, so get there early and be loud and proud. As always…
God Bless and Go Panthers!