Southside opens spring practice ready to prove doubters wrong

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Southside football team is coming off its first playoff season since 2005. Now the goal is to show that last season wasn’t a fluke.

The Panthers opened spring practice with conditioning days last week and put on pads for the first time on Monday. The team has plenty of work to do with its game against A.L. Johnson, scheduled for May 5, only a few weeks away.

“I tell the guys last year’s team was last year’s team. You can’t be compared to last year’s team. It was two different teams, two different identities,” Flowers said. “I tell them ‘y’all aren’t a team yet. You are a group of guys trying to become a team.”

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The Panthers had a memorable season in 2016. Southside beat Selma for the first time in a decade, winning on a dramatic touchdown by wide receiver DeQuan Johnson in overtime. Johnson and his 27 total touchdowns are moving on to Alabama State University, so there’s a major hole left on the offense.

Flowers thinks the Panthers can pick up the slack.

He’s moved G’Neil Johnson, an all-county selection at quarterback last season, to slot receiver to help fill DeQuan’s spot. Malik Johnson, who was the backup quarterback last season, is expected to take the reigns as the team’s signal caller this year.

“Malik stepped up. He’s faster, stronger and he can spin the ball really good,” Flowers said. “G’Neil is moving over to receiver, slot receiver, where ‘Quan played at.”

Flowers spent a lot of the practice working with defensive backs. After practice, he said the defensive secondary is the most competitive position this spring. Six guys are competing for four spots.

“Defensive back is the biggest battle,” Flowers said. “We have a lot guys vying for those four positions.”

The Panthers went 7-4 in 2016. According to the Alabama High School Football History website, Southside hasn’t made the playoffs in back to back seasons since 1990.