All doubts erased, all wringing of the hands ceased, all worries abolished. These boys from A-Town are legit title contenders once again and in back to back games, they showed up and showed out. The undefeated, undisputed, reigning, defending, current four time consecutive AA State Champion Abbeville Panthers (5-0) are gelling into a cataclysmic force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. The non-region portion of the schedule is done. The Panthers so far this season have played the winningest program in Georgia high school football history, two AAA teams, a top 5 AA team and a top 5 AAAA team and have walked away unscathed. The dominate performance last Friday night versus Hartsville, a 31-10 Panther victory, was the last hurdle before region play gets underway. The victory extended the Panthers home win streak to 38 games and 27 straight games overall. This week region play begins with long time rival, The Batesburg-Leesville Panthers.
Batesburg-Leesville (2-3) is in the 3rd year of the Gary Adams era. Adams is 14-16 overall so far at B-L and has lost twice this year by exactly one point. Newberry beat B-L in week two 21-20, and B-L lost at 5A Lexington two weeks ago 20-19. B-L is coming off of a bye week and is looking to bounce back from those close losses. The Purple Panthers are a very balanced team offensively this year. Running back #6 Marvin Gantt (91-518-3) is the team leading rusher while QB #3 Tre Robinson is very capable of breaking out of the pocket and scrambling too. He has 73 yards rushing and 2 rushing touchdowns this year. B-L is primarily a spread team, Robinson is completing 63% of his passes for 828 yards and 8 touchdowns this year. He has thrown 4 interceptions. #11 Shauntrel Hendrix (24-269-2) and #1 Keshoun Williams (14-285-3) are the teams leading receivers. The Purple Panthers return 10 seniors and 14 juniors on this years team. This rivalry dates back to 1921 according to the B-L historians. There are some discrepancies in the all time record of Abbeville vs B-L. Some records show Abbeville holds a 22-21 all-time record vs. B-L. Other records show B-L holds a 26-23-1 record over AHS. Either way, it’s a usually a great game when these two tradition rich power houses face each other.
When the toe touches leather Friday night 17 total State Championships will be represented. The garnet and gold Panthers will try to extend
an impressive 27 game win streak. AHS has also won 17 consecutive true road games (neutral site and championship games not included). Heading into region play the A-Town offense has found it’s stride. The big athletic offensive line is lead by seniors Connor Nickles, Trai Jones, Devon Bowie, DeMichael Johnson and junior Davis Sutherland. Jake Adams and Jim Porter are also key contributors that stepped up fantastically while Johnson was injured last week. The Hogmollies have gelled together nicely, opening huge running lanes last week to the tune of 354 rushing yards on 52 carries. That’s an average of 6.8 yards per carry. JD Moore continues to impress. With his 23 yard touchdown reception off the arm of Thomas Beauford, Moore has now ran for a touchdown, thrown a touchdown and caught a touchdown this season. He led all rushers vs Hartsville with 9 carries for 110 yards and a score. In fact, the Panthers had four rushers with more than 5
0 yards rushing in the game, and three different Panthers scored a rushing touchdown. Tyrell Haddon(11-81-1), Martico Jackson(15-70), and Cruz Temple(9-51-1). As well as the offense played, the defense wouldn’t be outmatched. The Panther defensive line and linebackers harassed the quarterback all night. The leading tackler through this week is junior Luke Evans (40 tackles – 2 TFL – 3 sacks – 1 caused fumble – 1 fumble recovery) Carson Smith (36 tkls – 4 tfl – 1 sk -2 fr) and Jhalyn Shuler (35 tkls – 7tfl-1 fr – 2 int) are nearly unblockable as well. The Panther defense has created 12 turnovers in their first 5 games and the team is +8 in the turnover margin as of this week.
The Panther defense has only allowed four touchdowns in their first five games. Special teams have been just that, special. Dylan Beauford continues his reign of dominance. He’s just over 50% on kickoff touchbacks. To put that in perspective, Beauford has kicked 10 touchbacks this season. Every other team that the Panthers have faced have kicked one touchback, combined. He’s 14 of 15 on PAT’s and averages 40 yards per punt. This team is methodically growing into a title contender.
Region play begins Friday night. These are the games that really matter, and what better way to start than against an old favorite foe. It’s Panther versus Panther in what I’m sure will turn into an old school donnybrook. We’ll see you, loud and proud in Batesburg-Leesville this Friday night. Kickoff is at 7:30. As always…
God Bless and Go Panthers!