PERRY, Ga. — At Perry High School, dead week has come and gone, and it's back to business as usual, which means kicking it right back into high gear, as the Panthers are now just six weeks out from week one of Football Friday Night.
And these days, that's really the only option.
It had been since 1959 that Perry won its region, and now, the Panthers have won back to back.
But this year, the Panthers jump up two region spots and add Griffin as an opponent.
So the road to a three-peat won't be a walk in the park.
“In my opinion our region just got a lot tougher,” head coah Kevin Smith said. “Griffin's a traditional powerhouse so I think we play in a very competitive region and there's going to be some good teams sitting at home that don't make the playoffs this year.”
The Panthers are up to the task.
Coach Smith says his team is "watering the root,” and to do it this year, they're looking inward.
“We're a player driven team,” Smith said. “That's something we're building off of from last year. And that's the next phase in watering the root. Any coach will tell you that when you've got a player driven team, then you're going to be a lot better than when you've got a coach driven team.”
Senior quarterback Armar Gordon and junior wide receiver Dakarai Anderson are used to linking up on the field, but they're also linking together the team in 2022.
“It started with us last year with our first loss,” Gordon said. “We had guys ready to give up. And went to just blaming and pointing fingers and me and Dakarai, we stepped up.”
“People don't always look toward the coaches and listen,” Anderson said. “If you've got big players like me and Armar, they'll listen to us, so we can drive the team in the right direction.”
It’s a direction that's giving this group everything they need to win a third straight region title this season.
“The relationship with the team is very good,” Anderson said. “We come to practice, we look to have fun at practice. In order to love the game, you've got to have fun at practice.”
The Panthers open their 2022 season against the Houston County Bears on August 26 at Freedom Field.