Panthers to close out regular-season play Thursday at Plain Dealing

By T. Scott Boatright

Lincoln Preparatory School will be looking Thursday to do something it hasn’t done since 2017 – beat Plain Dealing.

The Panthers will take to the road following three straight losses to the Tigers, which defeated Lincoln Prep 52-14 last season, 42-13 in 2019 and 26-0 in 2018.

Lincoln Prep last defeated Plain Dealing on Oct. 27 of 2017 when the Panthers pummelled the Tigers 60-25.

Panthers coach Glen Hall said being able to defeat the Tigers is all about the quarterback, be it senior Braedan Sterling or junior Carnez Hillmon.

“They’re a quarterback-oriented team,” Hall said about Plain Dealing. “Whoever they’ve had at quarterback is usually running all the time. They’ll throw a few passes, but their quarterbacks mainly just run the ball. They try to run that speed sweep with them

“In the last game (a 63-0 loss at Calvary Baptist) they didn’t use Sterling at all. I don’t know if he was hurt or what. But last week they used No. 32 (Hillmon) at quarterback. We’re preparing for both. Whoever is in there I don’t expect to see a lot of passing from them. (No.) 17 (Sterling) is a better runner than No. 32 (Hillmon), but we’ll be prepared for both of them.”

Sterling has completed 19-of-72 pass attempts on the season for 262 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions but has 56 carries for -12 yards.

Hillmon has only thrown two passes, one of which he completed for a 27-yard touchdown, but has added 161 rushing and four scores on 43 carries.

Lincoln Prep is coming off a 43-12 loss to Haynesville. 

Panthers quarterback Ta’Rell Simmons completed 12-of-26 passes for 209 yards with one touchdown and one interception in that contest but faced a heavy rush from the Golden Tornado and ran the ball 19 times for -2 rushing yards.

“We’ve worked to clean up our blitz blocking and will probably throw more screens this week,” Hall said. “Looking at film, I saw that Haynesville had some success against the Plain Dealing blitz, and I’ll be looking to do the same thing. We’re doing a lot of screens and a lot of quick stuff like sending a receiver to the spot the linebackers will be blitzing from. We won’t be holding the ball in the pocket very long this week.”

One thing Hall feels good about is the fact his team is healthier than it’s been for much of the season.

“We’re well,” Hall said. “We don’t have a lot of injuries at all other than late season nicks and bruises.”

Hall said the main thing he and his players are focused on is getting a win at Plain Dealing to put themselves in the best postseason position they can.

“It’s a really important game,” Hall said of Thursday’s game. “A win will put us at the .600 mark for the season (6-4). Right now we look to be at No. 12 in the power rankings and if we can get a win I think it will bring us down to No. 10. That will put us in good playoff position with a first-round home game, and not just that, but a chance to play somebody who we can hopefully be able to beat and get into a good bracket where we’ll be playing the next round against a team basically a lot like us. I’m thinking we’ll be in a good position.”

Hall also knows his team’s mentality should play a big role against the Tigers.

“We’ve come a long way and I’m making sure this team is focused,” Hall said. “We just have to make sure we stay focused and do the things we know we have to do. The players seem to be enthusiastic for the opportunity to get a good spot in the playoffs and try to go on a run. But they also know they have to take things one game at a time and it all starts with Plain Dealing.”

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