Meridian Star


August 23, 2013

Roundup: Panthers face Week 1 battle against Laurel

MERIDIAN — Teams have practiced. Fans have waited. Fields are painted. Records stand at 0-0.

Friday night football is back.

    So it’s only appropriate that since Quitman and Laural are no long division rivals, they will line up against each other to open the season on Friday night.

    This season, Laural moved to Class 5A leaving behind the recently heated division matchup with the Panthers.

    “All the teams in 4A, we know what they got. They going to shock a lot of teams in 5A,” Quitman head coach Steve Bynum said.

    He said it all started with flip-flopping division titles year after year, but in 2011 things heated up. The Golden Tornados routed the Panthers, 41-8, in the regular season, but Quitman used it as a wake up call.

“We ended up turning our season around, getting in the playoffs and we met again in the south state championship,” Bynum said. “It went from a blow out to a really good, close game.”

The Panthers held Laural to on touchdown win, 28-15, before the Golden Tornados lost the state championship to Lafayette, 39-29.

    Quitman got reveneger on the road in 2012, giving Laural a run for their money by winning on the road, 55-20.

    Bynum said both teams will be really young this season, but if anything, that should make Friday night’s game better.

    “It’s going to be the battle of the two young teams,” Bynum said. “Hopefully, we’ll come out on top … it’s just kind of heated up. A lot of our kids know their kids, so fans know one another. It’s a good clean rival game.”

    Quitman is returning eight starts from last year, four on each side of the ball, but Bynum lost his entire offensive life creating a weak spot. Additionally, he has his eye on Laural’s sophomore quarterback and receive duo in Keon Howard and Octavious Cooley.

    “It’s going to be a challenge to try an hold those guys,” he said.

    But working for Quitman, will be its speed on both sides of the ball. Bynum said he has been pleased with what he’s seen in practice and in the two quarter wins to Stringer and Heildelberg last week during the jamboree.

    He also feels confident in his defense, as key returners will take the field. Eris Spensor and Reggie Hamilton will be back at tackle with     Travarious Moore at defense back. Returning lineback Josh Robinson is likely to sit Friday due to injury.

    Dequan Stanley will step up from backup to starting quartback this season.

But without having played a full 48 minutes, Bynum said, everything is a question mark – he can only know so much, but he expects the stands to be full and the teams to be ready.

    “With fairly young quads on both sides, both us know the importance of trying to get that first win to set a tone for a little bit of momentum into the season,” he said. “I really think it’ll be a packed house in Quitman and both teams are going to get up for this game. It’s going to be big for the momentum into week two and the rest of the season.”

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