For Panthers, ‘trust’ is the name of the game


That is the Panthers’ motto as they head into the 2018 football season. It was a theme, Head Coach Kevin Smith said, came via a lot of thought, prayer, studying, etc. “It just hit me one night,” he said during Perry High’s Fan and Media Day held Saturday at the school. This is Smith’s second year as head coach. And oh by the way, last year’s motto was “all in” in case you were wondering/needed reminding. “Because,” he continued/explained, “we’ve got a lot of trust issues with coaches and players and parents and players.

“I think things like today (the event) and the things we preach and the success that the kids are having, that trust is a big part of that. And communication builds trust.

“I tell the kids all the time if something’s wrong and you don’t tell us, how are we supposed to know? So that’s our thing. I think the big thing this year is we’ve got to trust everybody to do their job. And I think that’ll take us to the next level for our program.”

Perry will be looking to build on a program that finished 5-5 this past year. The Panthers got off to a hot start. They beat four out of the first five they faced. But then the region schedule kicked in and so did a four-game losing streak. The season did end on a win, it over West Laurens.

The Panthers “meet-and-greet”/sign autographs, et cetera, during Fan and Media Day Aug. 3 at the school. (Greg Elrod)

This year with new turf and other field/stadium upgrades, Perry will take to the field for “live” action Friday (Aug. 10) at 7:30 p.m. for a scrimmage against Peach County.

Then it will be a non-region schedule consisting of Houston County (away), Macon schools Northeast (away) and Westside (home), Monroe out of Albany (away) and Veterans (home). The region schedule – three at home versus last year’s two, Smith said – will kick in following (Sept. 21): Upson-Lee (home), Howard (home), Spalding (away), Mary Persons (away) and West Laurens (home).

“I’m so excited,” Smith said, of getting started and the Trojans to begin, “because I’ve seen how hard these guys have worked since January 1. It’s not real (as far as an ‘official’ contest) but it’s football, so it’s a big deal. I’m anxious to see where we measure up. Peach County was state runner up and arguably the state champ from last year. We know Coach (Chad) Campbell and his staff does an outstanding job and they have a topnotch program.

“We played them last year during the regular season, so we want to see how far we’ve come and measure up against at very talented team.”

As far as overall, and the region in particular, Smith said he knows the Panthers are better. In fact, he said, “We feel like we’re a top four team in our region. We feel like we ought to be in the playoffs.

“There are no gifts so we may very well not be there, but that’s our goal. And once we attain that goal, we’ll set another goal. I’m just looking forward to a very tough non-region and a tough region (schedule) and getting under way.”