It’s here folks. As this preview article is published, we’ll be sitting about twelve hours away from kicking off the 2019 season. The Panthers have worked hard in their offseason strength and conditioning program, and now it’s finally time to see that hard work pay off. The undisputed, reigning, defending, four time consecutive AA State Champs will be facing a familiar foe. The Lincoln County Red Devils are making that trip ‘Cross the River’ to historic Hite Stadium. Let’s see how the two teams match up.
Lincoln County has not forgotten the 57-0 drubbing that the Panthers handed to them last season. It was the beginning of a rough season for the Red Devils. LC had their first losing season since 1972 and that’s just not okay for a program with such a proud tradition. Head coach Michael Pollock returns for his 2nd year and he’s looking for improvement in all areas. The talent is there. Running back #1 Kolbi Ferguson will get his share of the carries this season as the Red Devils will be primarily running a Wing-T offense. LC also switched things up on the defensive side of the ball, moving away from the 3-4 and installing a 4-3 defense. LC will also make history this year with three female players on the roster. #28 Gianna Anderson, #32 Carly Carruth and #33 Kholi Carruth will suit up and assume kicking duties. A new offense, a simplified defense, and another year under Coach Pollock’s leadership should spell out improvement for the Red Devils.
The Panthers on the other hand are coming off a historic, undefeated season. The moment the horn sounded at Benedict College last December, the #Drive4Five mantra began. The unprecedented success of the Panthers over the last four years has driven expectations higher than an August light bill. However, this team is built to brush off expectations and just handle business on the field. The winningest head coach in AHS history, Jamie Nickles (161-39-1) said “The strength of this team is across both lines of scrimmage. The offensive and defensive lines. They will set the tone each week.” The Panthers O-Line will open running lanes for a new cast of characters this season as the entire backfield graduated. #35 Martico Jackson has been drawing praise from coaches at the A-back position. The wing backs will be a combo of
#4 Tyrell Hadden, #6 Cruz Temple, #21 Navi Marshall and others. The field general however, is back. #10 JD Moore slashed and gashed defenses last season rushing for 1,354 yards and 21 TD’s. The senior signal caller threw for another 13 touchdowns last season as well. The defense returns a defensive line that looks like a Power 5 college line. #52 Carson Smith is back to harass QB’s this season. #78 Ar’Darius “Bone” Burton, #74 Demairis Hill and a combo of others were born to clog rushing lanes and make life generally miserable for opposing offenses. #16 Joc Norman and #15 Luke Evans are back at linebacker as well as #17 Jhalyan Schuler who is utilized everywhere on the defensive side of the ball. All-Region/All-State kicker #41 Dylan Beauford returns for his senior season. Dylan has been booming 50+ yard field goals all summer long at various camps, and proved to be a serious weapon last season.
It’s here. Football season is finally upon us. Kickoff is at 7:30 at Hite Stadium. Admission is $7 and $1 of every ticket sold goes to the Dr. Betty Jo Hall Memorial Scholarship Fund. A clear bag policy mandatory at all Abbeville sporting events, so make plans accordingly. Let’s pack the Hite and cheer on our Panthers as they face the first hurdle toward their #Drive4Five. As always…
God Bless and Go Panthers!