Panthers take on Buffaloes in season opener

Senior running back Cory Ferrell walks in for a touchdown during a scrimmage with LaGrange at Liberty Hill’s new football stadium. The Panthers host Giddings in their season opener on Friday. (Photo by Kathy Canady)

Senior running back Cory Ferrell walks in for a touchdown during a scrimmage with LaGrange at Liberty Hill’s new football stadium. The Panthers host Giddings in their season opener on Friday. (Photo by Kathy Canady)

Liberty Hill vs. Giddings

Friday, August 30

7:30 p.m. @ Panther Stadium


Giddings High School

Enrollment: 657

Coach: Chris Jones

Mascot: Buffalo

Colors: Black/Vegas Gold

League: 3A Region IV District 26

The Giddings Buffaloes enter the season as one of the most athletic teams in the district. Giddings features several playmakers on offense that can hurt with their elite speed and the ability to take the ball to the endzone from anywhere on the field.

Last season, Giddings started with a 6-0 record, but lost their last four district games to finish with a 6-4 record in 2012.

Giddings Head Coach Chris Jones enters his third season leading the Buffaloes and will want to finish the season strong after last season’s drop off in district.

Previously, Jones coached at Refugio, La Marque and most recently Post, before joining Giddings in April 2011.

Jones runs a spread offense that throws a lot of screens out of the shotgun formation and focuses on getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly. On defense  the Buffaloes run a 3-3 Stack that is designed for gap control and bringing pressure from the outside.

Liberty Hill Head Coach Jerry Vance will focus on controlling the possession and relying on his heavy ground game to keep the ball out of the Buffalo playmakers’ hands.

“Giddings is always really athletic,” Coach Vance said. “They’ve got a couple of big kids and they’ve got a couple of kids at the skill positions that are exceptional. On defense they’re real aggressive. So offensively we have to be able to handle that pressure. Defensively I think the biggest thing we have to insure is to make sure we tackle well.”  Liberty Hill’s offense, the Slot-T, relies on misdirection to keep the defense off-balance and will help counter the blitzing corners from the outside.

Coach Vance has a backfield full of talent in senior running backs Cory Ferrell and Will Fromme that he will rely on to carry the load through a tough schedule in 2013.

The Panthers will play in their brand new football stadium for the first time in an official game, but Vance insists that it’s still business as usual and they aren’t putting any special emphasis on it.

“If you’re going to win championships in the post-district, then you’re going to play in some nice places,” he said. “We’re not making the new stadium like a coming out party or anything like that. This is simply a nice place to play football. We’re going to line up and hope to beat Giddings.”

The Fightin’ Panthers had their final test on August 22 when they scrimmaged Sealy in Bastrop. The scrimmage allowed the Panthers to work out the final kinks before the first game of the season and to solidify roster spots.

“That’s what scrimmages are—they’re practices against other people,” Coach Vance said. “It gave us a chance to see some kids against an opponent different than you usually hit on. I thought we learned quite a bit from the scrimmage. There were a couple of kids that solidified their places on Varsity and that’s what we wanted to see. We were really happy with the scrimmage and we learned a lot. I thought we looked pretty good.”

The scrimmage also gave the Panthers a chance to practice against a spread offense in preparation for Friday’s season opener against Giddings.

Creating depth and finding out which players will help the Panthers win this season is also important in preseason scrimmages.

“Roster spots is a big thing right now,” Coach Vance said. “We lost a couple of kids to injuries, so we had to fill in for those players during the scrimmage and those fill-ins did a good job. It makes me feel good that we’re a little deeper at a couple of positions than what I had anticipated.”

The format of the scrimmage against Sealy started with Liberty Hill’s first-team offense against Sealy’s first-team defense. The Panthers got 10 plays to run before switching over to play their first-team defense against Sealy’s first-team offense. Then the second-team offense and defense got their opportunity to run 10 plays as well. Following that, the teams played two 12-minute quarters with the referees officiating. It gave the Panthers a good opportunity to simulate what’s going to happen on Friday night.

~ Taylor Grafft

The Independent Sports