Playing catchup

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 5, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

It feels like the same story all over again for the Southside Panthers.

Off on a start similar to last year, the team is mixing in players at different spots, trying to adjust schemes and scrapping to get to the playoffs after a first half that could very well have gone differently.

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The Panthers (1-4, 0-3 4A Region 1) jumped back in the saddle with a 59-14 win over Central-Hayneville last Friday, and they travel to take on region bottom-feeder Hillcrest-Evergreen tonight.

But trips to No. 5 Thomasville and non-region opponent Keith, and a home game against Escambia County remain later in the year.

“We feel like we’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs,” quarterback Orlando Brown said. “We’re just taking it game by game and working as hard as we can to do it.”

It won’t be an easy road there. Southside pretty much has to win out to get to the postseason for the first time in two years.

Brown has now settled into his job after sharing time with Xavier Mack earlier in the season, and there are young players stepping into other roles all over the field.

The one constant, however, is running back Kevin Rowe. Picking up right where he left off last season, the do-everything player for Southside is doing just that.

“It really doesn’t matter where you play him,” offensive lineman Akeem Moore said. “You give him a helmet, and he’ll play anywhere you tell him. He’s at running back, quarterback, linebacker, cornerback, safety. He never comes off the field.”

One twist coach Christopher Raymond has added is lining Rowe up at quarterback in the shotgun, a la Arkansas and Darren McFadden.

The Panthers mainly run out of the package, and it seems to be working. Whether he’s deep in the backfield or directly behind center, Rowe has managed to average more than 160 rushing yards in five games this season.

“It all feels the same to me. Offense is offense,” Rowe said. “I’m just trying to put points on the scoreboard. As soon as we line up, we have folks yelling ’22, 22!’ Guys are going after me, I guess. But I don’t pay any attention to it.”

Even Rowe acknowledged it’s going to take more for this team to finish strong.

It’s a given that the running game will eat up yards, but it’s hard to beat good teams being one-dimensional.

“We started off the same way last year,” Raymond said. “We’re going to play teams with a lot of tradition and a lot of depth. We play Thomasville on the road this time, and that’s going to be tough. We’re old at spots and young at spots, and we’re just trying to get better.”