Vacations are winding down and the back to school commercials are ramping up. That only means one thing. Football is right around the corner. We are nine days away from the WCTEL Kickoff Classic at Hite Stadium and a mere 26 days away from the opening regular season game of the year. We’ll look at the first three games on the Panthers schedule today, and get a “way too early” prediction of each game.
Friday August 23rd – Lincoln Co. @ Hite Stadium
The Red Devils found themselves shell shocked from the very first play of the game last season. The Panthers unleashed a historic whipping on our friends from ‘cross the river’. The Panthers took advantage of LC having a brand new coach and a retooled team on their way to a 57-0 victory. Michael Pollock is back for year two as head coach of the Red Devils and after a 4-6 inaugural season, the boys from Lincoln County are hoping for a turn around season. It’s just hard for me to believe that a team can close a 57-0 gap in one season. LC is on the way back, but they still have work to do. A big experienced Abbeville defense will be very hard to move the ball on, and the Panthers should cruise in the home opener.
Prediction: Abbeville 36 – Lincoln Co. 6
Friday August 30th – at Newberry
The Panthers opened last seasons home slate versus the Bulldogs of Newberry and waltzed their way to a 49-0 victory. The Bulldogs had five new starters on their offensive line last season and the Panther defense had their way with them. The Bulldogs rebounded last year, scoring 35+ points in 6 of their final 10 games before being bounced in the first round of the AAA playoffs. Legendary head coach Phil Strickland is notorious for fielding great, tough teams, so expect this to be a much improved Newberry team this year. This is the first road test for the Panthers this season as well. How will the newcomers handle a road trip, the big lights inside a big shiny newer stadium? I think they’ll handle it very well. Again, I just don’t see a seven touchdown gap being closed in just one year. But with all of the other factors involved, we shouldn’t look for another 49-0 blowout. Or should we?
Prediction: Abbeville 41 – Newberry 20
Friday September 6th – Emerald @ Hite Stadium
The county line rivalry renews again this season. The Panthers will host Emerald at Hite Stadium where the Vikings have only won twice in history. Last season Emerald, loaded with talent, struggled to find an offensive identity. This season, head coach Tim McMahon enters his 11th year with the Vikings and has said that Emerald will run a double
wing, option style offense. When executed correctly, the option is very hard to stop. The Panthers get a chance to show the Vikings their version of the double wing, as JD Moore and company should be in sharp game shape heading into the third game of the season. Last season speed was a huge factor in the game. Abbeville zipped, and darted all over the field against the bigger Viking team. Will we see the same speed difference in this years contest? This game could be over quick. With both teams keeping it on the ground the clock will rarely stop. Hard to beat a team at their own game. Abbeville has been the king of the double wing for quite awhile now.
Prediction: Abbeville 48 – Emerald 17
Check back next week as we preview the next three games on the schedule. Southside Christian, Hartsville and Batesburg. As always….
God Bless and Go Panthers!