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Panthers, Trojans welcome challenges

August 4, 2004

Undated--At the newly formed Americus-Sumter High first year head coach Bill Clark is hoping two is better than one. As in two separate high schools merging to form one football powerhouse.

"We haven't had a single problem with the kids, it's been so great. They just want to play together, they've always wanted to play together. And here I get a chance to coach them and they get to play together for the first time," Clark said.

It's tough not to come together especially with the amount of talent on the Panthers roster. Senior quarterback Cedric Johnson threw for over 3,000 yards and 41 touchdowns last year, and if Clark has anything to do with it those numbers will be even better this year.

"If they're going to let me throw, I'll be throwing it all night long. Don't be surprised if we're slinging it 70 times a game if they let me," Clark added.

Make no mistake the Panthers offense is loaded with weapons. In the backfield are running backs Kord Thomas and Shannon Walton but the biggest threats are receivers Brandon Gooden, Jarrell Seay and former Sumter County quarterback Donald Minter.

"It makes it a whole lot easier because he (Minter) knows how to read the defense. It makes it a lot easier," Johnson said. Defensively, senior Jeremy Hawkins is starting to turn heads and could be primed for a big year. "

Coach Meredith has got those (defensive) guys working really hard and it's kind of hard to throw a light on anybody over there because every time we turn over to look it's somebody different every day in practice making plays," Clark said.

If the Lee County Trojans want to be able to compete with the likes of the Panthers, first year head coach David Johnson knows they're going to have to grow up fast. Johnson takes over a program that's coming off back to back 1 and 9 seasons and with only five seniors on their roster the Trojans are young everywhere you look.

"We're going to be very young and it's going to be a challenge, every game will be a challenge to us. But I feel like our juniors and our sophomores as well as our seniors are going to give it everything they've got each game and lay it all out there and then whatever happens, happens and we'll just build upon that," Johnson said.

But rebuilding is nothing new to Johnson who welcomes the challenge of starting all over.

"I've coached at two other programs that were down like Lee County is at the present and that's the first thing you have to change, the way they think and the way they act and the way they play. And we're working on that, we're getting there," Johnson added.

And while the Trojans will have some key returners at the skill positions, Johnson doesn't want to single any one player out, since in his opinion everyone is starting from scratch.

"We're just kind of a blue collar team, no individual really stands out head and shoulders above the rest. We're all working for the same goal and the same outlook on things."

And that's just how he likes it.

Posted at 9:20pm by kevin.mcdermond@walb.com