The Perry Panthers have wrapped up their 2023 Football Season by winning their first ever State Championship this past Tuesday Night but the road to get there started way back last Winter and carried through the Spring and Summer and then…. going to the start of the season in the second half of August. Here is their season results with recaps on most of these games…
08/25/23 vs HoCo L 42-35; Perry opens 2023 in Week 2 after having a BYE on Week 1 against county rival HoCo in front of an overflow crowd at Herb St. John Stadium in the 100+ degree heat. The Panthers got off to too slow of a start as they trailed 21-0 in the first half and would later tie the game up but would ultimately fall a little short in a 42-35 loss to the Bears that featured a track meet in the fourth quarter that would be reminiscent of 2022’s battle. A key moment in this game happened early when AJ Hill found Ricky Johnson for a 98 yd touchdown pass.
09/01/23 vs Jones Co W 54-21; Perry trails 7-0 early but would find their stride on offense and throttle the Greyhounds to pick up their first win of 2023.
09/08/23 @ Veterans W 49-41; The Panthers made the short trip to Freedom Field to take on county rival Veterans who battled Perry all the way down to the wire but the Maroon, Gold, Black, and White’s offense was a bit much for the Warhawks and the key moment of this game was a 100 yd pick six by Perry’s defense. Veterans’ Preston Bird was almost unstoppable in this battle and Perry struggled to contain him almost all night.
09/15/23 @ Peach Co W 42-21
09/22/23 @ Howard W 41-0; The Panthers open region play in Macon and get the shutout victory over the Huskies.
09/29/23 @ Westside (Macon) W 55-14
10/06/23 vs Griffin W 41-7; The Maroon, Gold, Black, and White return home for the first time in five weeks and dominate the Bears from Spalding Co but it comes at a price as QB Colter Ginn breaks his thumb and would sit out the rest of the regular season.
10/13/23 vs Baldwin W 33-16; Perry trails at the half 16-9 to the Braves but would dominate the second half by outscoring Baldwin 24-0 to win 33-16.
10/27/23 @ Spalding L 31-22; The Panthers would play in the region championship against the Jaguars on the road and a late score by Spalding would doom Perry as they would fall 31-22 to end their 14-game region win streak and give Spalding the region title, this would be the first time since 2019 that Perry Football fails to capture the region championship.
11/03/23 vs West Laurens W 55-7; it is Senior Night at Herb St. John Stadium as the Maroon, Gold, Black, and White host the West Laurens Raiders and Perry would obliterate the Raiders 55-7 to finish the regular season at 8-2 overall; 5-1 in region play and take the #2 seed going into the AAAA State Playoffs.
11/11/23 AAAA Playoffs First Round vs Burke Co W 35-14; The Panthers open their Playoff run at home in the misting rain on a Saturday afternoon without starting QB Colter Ginn and would find themselves tied with the Bears at 14 going into the second half but would end the game on a 21-0 run to win 35-14 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
11/18/23 AAAA Playoffs Sweet Sixteen @ Bainbridge W 7-3; Colter Ginn returns for the first time in over a month and does just enough to propel the Panthers to victory in an absolute defensive slugfest by winning on the road 7-3 against a very talented Bearcats team to advance to their third Quarterfinals appearance in four seasons.
11/25/23 AAAA Playoffs Elite Eight @ Stephenson W 34-20; Perry travels to Stone Mountain in De Kalb Co to play the Stephenson Jaguars and would trail 7-0 to the host but would find a way to get the lead and go on a 27-0 run to lead by 20 but Stephenson would not go away quietly as they tried to make a rally but the Panthers responded and kept the Jaguars away to win 34-20 and finally get over the hump and reach the Semifinals for the first time in 64 years (1959).
12/01/23 AAAA Playoffs Final Four @ Starr’s Mill W 28-24; The Maroon, Gold, Black, and White travel to Fayette Co to take on the Starr’s Mill Panthers in what would be the Perry Panthers’ second ever Semifinals appearance. Perry starts off horrendously and would trail 10-0 early and would be down 10-7 at the half but would open the second half by scoring seven more pts and getting the lead before the host Panthers went on a 14-0 run of their own and would lead 24-14 late in the third quarter.
The Maroon, Gold, Black, and White answered quickly to draw within three and then with a little more than 8 1/2 minutes left in the game… Colter Ginn hit Kory Pettigrew on a 61 yd touchdown strike to put Perry back on top 28-24. The visitors made a defensive stop on fourth down at their five yd line and would get a few first downs and run out the clock to defeat Starr’s Mill 28-24 to advance to the State Final for the first time in the program’s 70 year history.
12/12/23 AAAA Playoffs State Final vs Stockbridge at a neutral site W 38-27; Perry plays in their first ever State Championship Game against the Stockbridge Tigers and the Panthers would be in a back-and-forth contest in the first half. Late in the first half… right after the Tigers took a 14-10 lead… the Maroon, Gold, Black, and White would receive the kickoff and Rodarious Lewis would fumble the ball and it would later be picked up by Gesha’nn Heard and ran into the endzone for the goofiest KO return TD you’ll ever see to give Perry the lead back… a lead they would never relinquish.
The Panthers would lead 24-21 in the third quarter but would then put the game to bed by going on a 14-0 run to lead 38-21 to seal the Championship Game. The Tigers would score one more time late and would fail to convert the two-pt try and after the Maroon, Gold, Black, and White recovered the onside kick… Colter Ginn would take two QB kneel downs to run out the rest of the clock and give the Perry Panthers their first ever State Championship in Football by winning over the Tigers 38-27.
Perry season pts for: 569/37.9 ppg
Pts allowed: 288/19.2 papg
Pts differential: +281/+18.7 ppg
Kevin Smith sat down with Sportsmic team member Todd Bailey to talk about the 2023 season in this interview that you can listen to down below.