The Lumberton Panthers look to avenge last year’s early exit from the playoffs as they host McAdams (6-5) Friday night.
Lumberton finished the regular season undefeated in district play and look to keep that streak alive as they start the playoffs.
Led by the powerful run attack, the Panthers have averaged 266 yards on the ground per contest, which has found the end zone 46 times in just 12 ball games.
Junior tailback Robert Henry has put together an all-star performance with 1,510 yards on just 123 rushing attempts. That is an average of 12.3 yards per carry and 137 yards per game. Henry has also added 24 rushing touchdowns, but his legs aren’t the only thing the versatile running back has accomplished. The duel threat back has also passed for 589 yards in the air and has added 7 passing touchdowns.
With the offense taking most of the credit thus far, it’s the defense that has shined throughout the season. The Panthers have created 27 turnovers, 17 of those by way of sacks. Lumberton has only allowed an average of 7.5 points per game in district play and only two games giving up 14 and 16.
Coach Zach Jones is pleased with his team’s performance heading into the post season and looks to build on momentum leading into this week’s matchup.
“I think our kids are having a lot of fun right now,” he said. “It makes it fun when you’ve got a group like these kids to coach. They root for each other and it’s really a blessing for us to be solid heading into post-season play.”
This week the Panthers host McAdams. The Bulldogs average just over 184 yards per game rushing and has totaled 19 touchdowns on the year.
Jones knows that the time for celebration of the regular season is over as they look to take care of business in post-season play.
“It’s important for us to have home-field advantage,” Jones said. “This allows us to rest; traveling on a 1A platform can be grueling for teams. We understand that the regular season got us this, but we are looking to take that and use it to our advantage moving forward. This is one of the most explosive group of guys we have had in years’ past. We are excited about the amount of depth we have and that means the world to us.
“McAdams has a solid offensive and defensive line,” he said. “They have some size on their team. We have done a good job of blocking but we have to really key in and execute with the talent level increasing throughout the post season. They remind me a lot like Mount Olive but a good bit bigger. We will definitely not overlook these guys and look forward to the challenges in this week.”
With the buzz in the locker room at a high, Jones looks to keep his teams on track and get things done.
“I still don’t think we have played or had the result we wanted since we been here,” Jones said. “Our goal is a state championship and we have to take it one win and game at a time. We also know if we are going to give our best shot then we are also going to get their best shot. We’ve got to step it up. We are working hard in the weight room and I expect us to step up come game time. “
The chemistry of the coaching staff is clicking at the right time and overshadowed at times with talented key players on both sides of the ball. Jones understands that the mindset of the team starts with his coaching staff.
“We have four coaches who have all come together,” he said. “We have been five years strong with each other and we are a close bunch. We also have five that are all Lumberton graduates. We are friends on and off the field and we work together as a family. We check our egos at the door. It’s all about these kids, putting them in the right position to make something special with these guys. We will be ready to play and look forward to the challenge.”
Kickoff is set for 7pm at Lumberton