VALDOSTA—After winning its first two contest with relative ease, Lowndes is getting ready to face a top test in Parkview.
The Panthers debuted this season as the No. 37 team in the nation according to High School Football America’s top 100 rankings. They currently hold the No. 3 ranking in 7A, trailing Marietta and Colquitt.
Offensively, they returned four of their five linemen and have a trio of weapons that can give opponents fits.
Wide receiver C. J. Daniels scored four touchdowns on seven receptions with 127 yards in the Panthers 28-18 season opening victory over Mountain View.
Quarterback Jordan Williams was 13-of-23 with four touchdown passes and 194 yards in the game.
The Panthers tote one of the top running backs in the state in Cody Brown. The junior running back rushed for 168 yards on 28 carries against Mountain View and has nearly 20 offers from Division I programs.
In the meeting last year, the Panthers beat the Vikings 39-27 in Lilburn in an offensive clash. This meeting could see more of the same.
The Vikings are coming off of consecutive demonstrative victories that set the tone early.
In week one, they defeated Drew 69-6 and last week they beat Champagnat Catholic (Fla.) 44-14.
Now, they’re tasked with slowing the offensive prowess of the Panthers while still performing to their own standards.
“I like the way our defense is playing but we’ve got a big test (tonight),” head coach Randy McPherson said. “They’re very good. I think our special teams are solid. And offensively I like the way our offensive line is coming together and playing. I don’t know really how good we are but we’ll learn a lot about our team (tonight).”
The Vikings defense has played up to par each week. In their preseason scrimmage against Bainbridge, the varsity and junior varsity combined to shutout the Bearcats. Against the Titans, an end zone to end zone touchdown was the difference in a defensive shutout.
Last week, Jalon Baker had two interception returns for touchdowns, and a lapse in coverage allowed the Lions to get their lone offense touchdown during garbage time.
With each week the play continues to improve for the Concrete Curtain. It’s the “Viking Way” according to senior captain Shawn Martin.
“It just shows that my guys and I are focused,” Martin said. “It shows that we are locked in and buying in to the Viking way of how to play football.”
Martin was a part of the defense that took the 12-point defeat at the hands of the Panthers last season. He knows about the players and statistics Parkview boasts, but he also knows about the potential of the Vikings.
“Parkview is a good team don't get me wrong but we’re a good team too, we’re a great team,” Martin said. “We’re going to do great things. They’re going to do good things but we’re going to come together and be a team and show what film and practice gets done.”
The Vikings have scored 113 points through two regular season contest. Powered by the play of sophomore quarterback Jacurri Brown, Lowndes may have an opportunity to display its own offensive potential.
Parkview lost six players from their starting defense last season including three linemen, two players from secondary and a linebacker.
They return linebacker Kobe Wilson, who led the Panthers in sacks and tackles last season.
With the difference in experience, the Vikings may be able to use their senior encumbered offense and dynamic sophomore quarterback to create an edge against the Panthers.
The expectation is simple for McPherson as the Vikings prepare for the playoff caliber matchup.
“I would expect them to play harder than they’ve played all year,” McPherson said of his players. “I know that’s what they're doing to do. Because they want to win. They’re going to do everything they can to get the win.”
The Vikings and Panthers will face off tonight at 8 p.m. at Martin Stadium.