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October 31, 2012

Panthers take on Union County

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Untitled Document
GAME 2 - Small town showdown

The Skinny: Coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons, the Newberry Panthers now play for a district championship Friday against Union County. The Tigers come in with a perfect 8-0 mark while Newberry is 7-2. Winner is the district champ and loser is the runner-up.

Prediction: UNION COUNTY

NEWBERRY: RB Ra'kheem Hoyt, ATH Trace Stankunas, QB Brandon Herbert, LB Les Jordan.

UNION COUNTY: DE Carl Alexander, RB Walter Mabrey, WR Andrew Jones, RB Prince Alexander, OT Larris Paige

THE OUTLOOK: For the first time since 2008, the Newberry Panthers are going to the post-season. That's not enough for first-year coach Chris Baker. He wants the district crown.

Newberry is in that position after beating Baldwin last week 38-34 to clinch at least the runner-up spot - but now face an unbeaten Union County team that is battle-tested.

Some of the greatest games during Union County's state championship run in the 90's came against Newberry. The Panthers were the last team to beat the Tigers before they started on a 52-game winning streak. In fact, Newberry was the opponent when Union County set the then-all-time record for most consecutive wins in 1997.

But that was 15 years ago. Now both teams are playing in Florida's smallest class - and playing for a right to play a home playoff game.

Newberry's all-everything threat is Hoyt who runs well and catches well out of the backfield. QB Brandon Herbert will look for help when he needs it and often finds Hoyt.

The Tigers are led by WR Andrew Jones as well as RB's Prince Alexander and Walter Mabrey.

Defensively, Newberry's linebacker tandem of Stankunas and Jordan will ahve their hands full Friday.

Experience in big games counts - so look for the Tigers to pull away from Newberry - but they just might meet again in the second round.

Prediction: Union County 24, Newberry 10

* * Discuss your thoughts of the games on our Football Central message forum.

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