August 26, 2003
Americus, Ga.-- Most teams that follow two state championships with a trip to the state semifinals tend to face a rebuilding year, then again most teams aren't the Americus High Panthers.
"Athletically, we're probably a little faster than we've been in the past. So if we can just do a decent job of getting people in the right places and not screw them up too much, we've got a chance to maybe be competitve," Soliday said.
Head coach Erik Soliday returns another stellar cast this season, with nine starters back on offense and five set to return on defense. Playing the leading roles are senior lineman Deon Small and perhaps the best one-two punch in the state in junior quarterback Cedric Johnson and senior receiver Jermaine Allen, who's just two touchdown receptions shy of breaking the state record of 42 set by his former teammate John Harris.
"No, I try not to think about it. Not that much," Allen said. "We really don't talk about it, we really don't talk about it. If it happens it just happens," Johnson said.
But records are being discussed over at Sumter County. Second year head coach Charles Truitt led the Rams to a 4 and 6 season a year ago, and this year the goal is to take it one step further.
"We started off slow last year and I think one of our goals this year is to start off fast and to be able to get better. I think we had a situation last year where we were a play here and there from having a winning season last year. And their thing is this year is we can't be satisfied," Truitt said.
The Rams bring back seven starters on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Donald Minter and running back Vernon Miller are the keys to a balanced offensive attack while senior safety Jermaine Seay heads up the defense.
"I think we should at least going 9 and 1, at least 9 and 1. I don't see us losing too many games," Seay said.
But above all, as both schools gear up for their final year before consolidation, the main goal is to go out on top.
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