Panthers face long road trip, tough opponent

Published 12:16 am Friday, September 7, 2012

The Southside High School Panthers are looking to bounce back after a season-opening loss, but they’ll have to do so on the road.

The Panthers (0-1) will travel to Mobile to play the Cottage Hill Christian Warriors Friday at 7 p.m. in the first meeting between the two Class 3A Region 1 teams.

Daniel Flowers, head football coach of Southside High School, said the Panthers have been looking to get tougher following a week one loss, and get the players to not dwell on a loss.

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“I want the guys to get more physical and get tougher. When they get down in a game, they should keep their mind the same — don’t give up so easy,” Flowers said. “I want the guys to understand that each and every game is like a one-game season. You’ve got to play each and every game like it has it’s own history.”

Friday’s trip to Mobile will mark the first of many long road trips for the Panthers in their new region, as they’ll have to travel more than three hours and 170 miles to play the Warriors, but Flowers’ only concern regarding the trip relates to a late return.

“It is a little different. This is the first time I’ve been on a football trip since I was in college where it’s longer than two hours,” Flowers said. “One thing is coming back at night and the kids getting back so late. As far as the game being that far, I don’t care. I’ll go anywhere for a football game. That doesn’t bother me, it’s just things like the kids have to get out of school at 12:30 p.m. and they’ll miss fifth block, so next week I have to make sure all the kids make up for that block.”

After their first game of the season was cancelled due to Hurricane Isaac, the Warriors will face their first competition in the Panthers, and Flowers said Southside’s opponent is young.

“Me and the coaches have touched bases the last couple days and we see that they’re a 37-man team, they’ve got about 12 or more freshmen and they’ve got three seniors starting. They’re a young team,” Flowers said. “They didn’t play a game last week, nor did they play a jamboree game, so we’re going to be the first action they’ve seen since their jamboree in the spring. They’re a spread team and they like to do a lot of pro set. I feel like if we play up to par like we’re supposed to, we should have a shot to win.”

In order to have a shot at winning the game, Flowers said it’s crucial that the Panthers establish a solid running game.

“We have to tackle better, run harder as running backs,” Flowers said. “The key thing we have to do is block. I feel like we didn’t block as well and I don’t think I did enough in practice with the O-line like I’ve done this week to make sure we block well. Because we’ve got to be able to run the football. If we can’t run the football and shorten the game, we’ll have no chance to win it. I’ve got to also have good quarterback play. I’ve got to make a good decision on who’s going to be the starting quarterback between freshman Khamari Gibbs and junior Chris Raymond.”