It’s not the optimum situation to be in for a second-round match-up in the state football playoffs, but Parkview has been here before.
Despite a strong regular season that included a Region 7-AAAAAAA championship and a No. 7 Class AAAAAAA state ranking from the Georgia Sports Writers Association, the Panthers (10-1) will face one of the toughest second-round opponents possible when state powerhouse Colquitt County invades the Big Orange Jungle on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
It’s the exact same position Parkview was in this time last year, when the then-undefeated and second-ranked Panthers fell to No. 7 Archer in a 36-29 thriller on the same field.
Head coach Eric Godfree says he and his team and coaching staff are in no mood to complain about the tough card the luck of the draw has dealt them.
In fact, a lot of emphasis has gone into how last season ended, and the Panthers seem determined to reverse their fortunes this time around.
“It’s two teams that have an opportunity to win it all playing (each other) in the second round,” Godfree said. “Much like we had Archer last year. It’s the same situation. We’re just blessed with tough second-round matches. Of course you’d like to have it later in the playoffs, which is how it should be, but that’s just how the bracket lines up.
“(The memory from) a year ago still weights heavy and fresh on our kids’ minds. None of us want our season to end before Thanksgiving. We want to keep playing, so definitely, the experience and the emotion of that game still very fresh in our minds.”
This time, it’s fifth-ranked Colquitt (9-2) that comes calling, and the Packers provide another formidable challenge with a wealth of weapons in their arsenal.
Offensively, they can do a lot of damage both through the air behind quarterback Jaycee Harden, who has thrown for an eye-popping 2,987 yards and 36 touchdowns, including five different receivers that have posted at least 14 catches, as well as on the ground behind four-star running back Daijun Edwards (151-926, 11 TDs rushing; 24-386, 2 TDs receiving).
As a unit, the Packers have been held to fewer than 31 points just twice this season, and will provide quite a test for a Parkview defense led by Memphis-committed linebacker Kobe Wilson (117 combined tackles and assists, 15 TFLs, 1 sack, 12 QB hurries, 1 INT, 3 PBUs), defensive tackle Mason Huntley (55 tackles, 6 sacks, 4 TFLs, 20 QB hurries) and sophomore defensive back T.J. Williams (42 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 PBUs).
Likewise, the Colquitt defense features plenty of playmakers like outside linebackers Ty French (108 tackles, 8 TFLs, 4 sacks) and Biron Silas (79 tackles, 4 TFLs, 5 sacks) and defensive back Nyquann Washington (42 tackles, 4 INTs).
But again, the Panthers have a wealth of weapons of their own, ranging from running back Cody Brown (146-1,173, 12 TDs) to quarterback Jordan Williams (119-206-3, 1,763 yards, 20 TDs) and receivers like C.J. Daniels (41-653, 8 TDs).
Godfree is firmly convinced the outcome will not necessarily come down to the talent on the field, but with how well that talent adjusts to changing situations and deals with adversity.
“At this point of the season, it’s the Sweet 16 and everybody’s good players and good coaches,” Godfree said. “And they’re going to take advantage when you’re out of position. Those athletes will make you pay for it. (So adjustments) are magnified in the playoffs.”