“To us it is a great opportunity to try to get another win in the region,” Pell City head coach Brooks Dampeer said. “We will get a step closer to the playoffs with a win tomorrow night.”
Dampeer said his team had a reality check this week in practice. The Panthers are currently on a two-game losing streak. The first-year head coach said his team was more focused on the small things this week than they have been in the last few weeks.
“The attitude has been good, a lot more focus,” Dampeer said. “There is a reason that we are coaching them the way that we are. It is all about details. They have to win their individual battle. Scheme is great, but you have to execute and you have to win your individual battles. They understand that.”
Pell City (3-2,2-1)is currently tied with Gadsden City in the region standings. Last week, in non-region action the Panthers fell to Oak Mountain, 22-15. Pell City had a chance to tie or go for the win late in the game, but on a double pass, the second pass was off target and fell incomplete.
“Looking back adversity isn’t always a bad thing,” Dampeer said. “You have to try to embrace it and be ready for the next opportunity.”
The Panthers enter the second half of the season focused on earning a playoff berth for the second season in a row. Last season, the Panthers went 4-1 in the second half of the season, which helped them earn second place in the region and home field advantage in the first round. Dampeer hopes his team can put together another amazing run like last season’s.
“If we play the second half of the season like we played last year it will be great,” Dampeer said. “We won some close ball games in the second half of the year last year. We are sitting one game better than we were this time last year, but it really don’t matter. You have to go play. We are still 2-1 in the region like we were a year ago, so we got to go play. Beating Gadsden is the next step in getting into the playoffs.”
The Titans of Gadsden City enter tonight’s game looking to get back on track after falling to Auburn, 16-13 last week. The Titans are in three-way tie with a 2-1 in Class 6A Region 7 with Pell City, and Huntsville. The Oxford Yellow Jackets also have a 2-1 record in region play, which includes a 6-0 win over Gadsden City.
“They are playing a 4-3 on defense,” Dampeer said. “They are running to the ball well and they run the ball well. They have three guys that are carrying it in the backfield. They play up to three quarterbacks, so we are seeing a couple of different looks at quarterback. They are very physical. Their interior defensive line we really noticed them and their linebacker is a good player as well.”
The Panthers will have to play well in every aspect of the game in order to leave Gadsden City with their fourth win of the season.
“We have to execute offensively, “he said. “We need more explosive plays; we have to be aggressive on offense. Defensively, we have to swarm to the ball, not give up any big plays, and get in and out of our correct checks. On special teams, we need to make a game changing play. We have to win the turnover battle.”
Gadsden City leads the series 5-2. The Panthers defeated Gadsden City, 21-19 in a thriller last season.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight from Titan Stadium in Gadsden.