CHULA -- Tiftarea Academy head football coach Chuck Moore admitted that last Friday night's 43-0 first round playoff win over the Windsor Knights did not help the Panthers get ready for their second round opponent.
This Friday the Edmund Burke Academy Spartans come to the Panther Pit for the Class AA quarterfinals matchup.
"That win didn't do us any favors," said Moore of last week's game. Prior to the game against the Knights, the Panthers had the week off, which makes Moore wonder if his team is ready for a tougher team.
"We're playing a team that has earned the right to be in the second round of the state playoffs," Moore said.
Although the Spartans are just 4-8, they have been beaten by some quality opponents. In fact, Moore used quality to describe the Edmund Burke team.
"They are a quality opponent that played a quality schedule," he said. "They have quality players and coaches.
"And they are peaking pretty good right here at the end."
"They have come a long way since the beginning of the season," said offensive coordinator Ricky Ellis, "and they are getting better and better. They are big and strong and they can hurt you."
While the Tiftarea coaches admit that there is not a lot of team speed on the Spartan squad, there are one or two with big-play potential.
"They've got some kids with blazing speed," said Moore.
The Spartans came into the playoffs after a 32-6 win over Curtis Baptist and then advanced to the second round with a 35-27 win over Piedmont Academy. The other two wins came against Memorial Day Academy (42-12) and Gatewood (16-14). The Spartans opened the season dropping their first five games.
Moore has been around long enough to know that an 0-5 start does not exactly spell doom for a football team.
"Remember Thomas County Central back in '95," Moore recalled, referring to the Yellow Jackets losing their first five games that season before winning the remaining 10 games of the season and the state championship. Moore, however, has faith in his players and knows that they realize what is at stake.
"We told our kids that this could be our last Monday of practice," he said earlier this week, "and they don't want it to be. Our kids are winners and they are going to play hard."
Thomas Ganas was the big ground gainer last week as he scored all three times that he touched the football on two runs of 26 yards and another from 56 yards away. Quarterback Bryan Ellis threw two touchdown passes, one a 33-yard strike to Aaron Dobbs that started out as a screen pass and another 41-yarder to Matthew Souter. The Panthers amassed 357 offensive yards while holding the Knights to just over 100.
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