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Panthers have a chance to get a win

Time is of the essence for a Southside team in search of its first win of the season and first winless season since 2000.

The Panthers (0-8) only have two more chances to put a notch in the win column. Their first opportunity comes against Calera on Friday in Selma.

“The only pressure we have is to play well,” said Southside coach Lemuel Jones. “We have the same pressure on us now as we had at the beginning of the season — to see if we can take a group of young men and come up with a win.”

That’s not to say the Panthers haven’t come close. During a three-game stretch, they lost to three teams — Holt, Greensboro and Keith — by six points apiece.

However, their last three losses have been by an average of more than 26 points.

The stats don’t damper the progress Jones sees in his first year with the team.

“From a fan’s perspective, they only see it from the losses and the wins, said Jones. “From a coaching standpoint, understanding the building of a football team, I would say we have overachieved.”

The Eagles (5-3) enter Friday’s contest with a 49-6 win over Livingston — a team that beat the Panthers 28-14 — under their belts and have already clinched a playoff spot.

“It’s an opportunity for us to go out and see if we can play well against a good Calera team,” said Jones. “The idea of football is to at some point be able to beat a football team better than you are. If we are the spoilers, that tells us we have reached the level of competitiveness we’re trying to reach.”

With playoffs no longer in the picture, Jones and his staff already have an eye toward next season.

“To build a football program and compete for the top area next year, we’re going to have to start working for the future as soon as this season is over,” said Jones. “If we can get that through to the players that football is a growing process, we can eventually have the type of program that those teams at the top of our area have. Our job is to get them there.”