Panthers confident heading into week seven

By T. Scott Boatright

After suffering a frustratingly bad performance last week against Homer at the Jonesboro-Hodge football stadium, one might think Lincoln Preparatory School coach Glen Hall and his Panthers might be a little down on themselves.

Think again.

Hall admits that the Panthers flat out played poorly last week in the 60-13 loss to the Pelicans.

But he’s also seen his team, now 4-3 overall and 3-3 in District 1-1A ,shake off such poor performances against good teams more than once this season before rebounding with strong showings the following week.

Hall believes Panthers fans will see exactly that as Lincoln Prep plays at the Magnolia School of Excellence on Friday night in Shreveport.

“We’ve got a good fan base,” Hall said, “We had a good following go to Jonesboro to see us play Homer. Coach (Eddie Robinson) always said when it comes to your fan base, ‘They’re paying their money, so they want to see a show.’ We’ve got to play hard and put on that kind of show. Our players know that is what is expected this week.”

Part of Hall’s positive thinking is that he likes where his Panthers are moving toward the final part of the regular season.

“This thing is, and I’ve told the team, we’re still in good position,” Hall said. “Right now I think we’re looking at a 7-3 or 6-4 record (if the Panthers can win two of their next three). That might give us a Top 12 seeding in the playoffs. We have Magnolia, Plain Dealing and Haynesville left. If we can regain our focus, and play the way we’ve at times shown we can play this season, I like our chances in being able to win at least two of those and get a good playoff spot. 

“I really thought we would have played better against Homer, so we have to shake that off. But I believe in this team and the fact that they’re still learning and getting better. I think our best football is still ahead of us.”

Hall realizes that it’s all about the start for the Panthers. Lincoln Prep trailed big in the first quarter of all three of its losses — at Glenbrook, and Calvary Baptist and last week vs. Homer.

“That’s something we need to focus on — we have to,” Hall said. “That’s what cost us in all three losses — digging holes too deep to crawl out of. We have to focus on playing well early and not making the mental mistakes that can snowball and let a game get out of hand early. In the three losses, we had the wind taken out of our sails early on. We can’t let that happen in these next three games. We have to come out focused and prepared to execute from the opening kick until the final seconds of the game.”

When starting quarterback Ta’Rell Simmons left the game in the second quarter last week, Braylin Mayfield moved over from receiver and took over behind center for the Panthers and impressed Hall and his staff.

Simmons returned later in last week’s game, and on Friday against Magnolia, Hall expects to play both.

“We’ll use a two-quarterback system,” Hall said Tuesday. “We’ve had good practices this week and Simmons is back up to about 80 percent. Simmons makes things happen with his running ability, even if that sets up the pass for him. But Mayfield shows he can be comfortable back there and can really throw the ball.

“For Ta’Rell, it’s been a sacrifice thing. He knows it. He’s doing what’s best for the team. But what he is, especially as colleges look at him, is an athlete. So we’ll use them both throwing, catching and running the football. This team has bought into working for and sacrificing for each other. And that’s why I still believe we have our best football yet to be played.”

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