Defense of the Title - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Defense of the Title

December 15, 2006

Homerville -- Clinch County will be on the road at Lincoln County for the Class-A State Championship tomorrow night, and offense will be at a premium.

The Panthers will be playing the title game with a freshman quarterback taking over under center, after their senior starter was suspended.

The teams are very similar, as both feature powerful running games and a strong defense.

Clinch County has a team record seven shut-outs this season.

The Red Devils have eight, and only AAA opponent Harlem scored more than a touchdown against Lincoln County.

The teams have split the last two state championships, and Clinch County head coach Jim Dickerson says the title game will match up strength-versus-strength.

"Both of us have good defenses," says Dickerson, "and both of us are run oriented. I feel like we're somewhat mirror images of each other."

Senior safety Justin Beard says "I know they run the Wing-T, and they do a lot of pulling. We got some big boys on the line, and I know they're not going to let me down, because I'm not going to let them down. I think we're going to camp out in (Lincoln County's) backfield."

With the defenses so strong, one score on offense could be enough to take the title.

The running game will be the key to the Panthers attack, as Justin Gainey and Dexter Reeves have combined to rush for 27-hundred yards and 41 touchdowns.

Lincoln County is led from the quarterback position, with Brandon Barden running and passing for over 1,000 yards and 18-touchdowns this year.

The senior QB stands 6'5" and weighs 210 pounds, and the Panthers know continuing to play strong defense will be their key to victory tomorrow night.

Senior cornerback Don Cobb says, "We'll be working hard, doing a lot of blitzes, trying to get to their quarterback. He's pretty big, so we have to keep pressure on him."

Coach Dickerson adds, "We feel like our defense is still the heart and soul of the team. There's an old football cliché that everybody loves the offense, but the defense wins championships, and we're certainly going to rely heavy on the defense Saturday night."

Tomorrow's Class A State championship game begins at 6 pm in Lincolnton.

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