steve.carter@gaflnews.com



CHULA -- There is no truth to the rumor that the Tiftarea Academy Panthers may get out the basketball scoreboard when they host the Central Fellowship Lancers tomorrow night at the Panther Pit.

But, if the Lancers keep up the pace they have had in the last two games, it may not be a bad idea.

In wins over Sherwood Christian and Flint River, Central Fellowship has scored 127 points, 59 against Sherwood and 68 against Flint River.

Central's offensive prowess has not gone unnoticed by the Panthers.

"Scoring that many points would be hard to do, even if there was no defense on the field," Tiftarea Academy head coach Jack Johnson said.

Leading the way for Central is halfback Cedric Haywood. Against Flint River last week Haywood ran 14 times for 372 yards and seven touchdowns. That was an average of 26.6 yards per carry.

"He is the fastest back in private school football. But, he also has a lot of help. He has a good offensive line and his fullback is really good," Johnson said.

The fullback is Josh Bennett, who rushed 11 times for 148 yards and a touchdown against Flint River. He also had 142 yards on 13 carries against Sherwood.

Two other standouts on offense for the Lancers are Josh Patterson and Justin Beatty. Those two players had big games in Central's Region 3-AAA opener against Sherwood. Patterson had a 45-yard touchdown run and caught two passes for 81 yards and another touchdown, while Beatty rushed seven times for 78 yards and three scores.

Patterson is also strong on defense, as he had 14 total tackles against Sherwood, including three for losses.

Tiftarea will be relying on an improving defense to try to slow the Lancers down.

"Our defensive front has been especially impressive lately," Johnson said. "They have really stepped up for us."

Playing along the defensive front have been John Womack, Kyle Welker, Johnny Camp and Dustin Kilby, as well as ends Whit Coarsey and Chad Mock.

"Those guys have done really well and they have allowed our linebackers, Jamey Johnson and Blake Phillips to make a lot of tackles," Johnson said.

While the front has been doing well, Johnson is hoping a revamped secondary can also play well.

"We have done some moving around this week. We have Derek Grist back at cornerback. He earned All-State last year and has been all over the place at practice this week," Johnson said. "We also have put Ric Ellis at free safety and Josh Luke at Will linebacker, I think those moves will also help us."

The Tiftarea coach hopes he can slow down the Lancers and take a win in the region contest.

"We are 1-1 right now and if we can beat them, we should be in line to host a playoff game," Johnson said. "That means this game is really important for us."

Game time will be 7:30 p.m. in Chula.



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