Lanett prepares for Comer challenge in first round of playoffs

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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The Lanett Panthers are preparing to take on B.B. Comer in the first round of the AHSAA playoffs, but Lanett will be a first round underdog for the first time in several years.

The Panthers capped off their 5-5 regular season with a 52-0 win over Barbour County, and it prevented Lanett from having their first losing regular season since 2014.

This isn’t head coach Clifford Story’s first time being an underdog, and his team is embracing the challenge.

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“We have a little bit of experience playing against Comer,” Story said.

“We’ve been in the region with them before. They have the same staff. They’re a great team. They won their region. They’re physical up front. They have a big running back who has breakaway speed. They have great gap control on defense. We’re going to have to play extremely well to have a chance against them, but our kids have grown up a little bit.”

Story feels like being the underdog gives his team motivation.

“This is our first time in several years going on the road,” Story said.

“I told them at practice that you have to take the scenic route to get what you want. It’s going to be a hostile environment, and we have to be prepared. If they execute the things we put in place, then we’ll have a chance.”

The Panthers finished the season with three straight wins, and now they’ll face a team who went undefeated in their region.

“We need to be consistent,” Story said.

“We need to be able to block different fronts. There were so many times we missed a block. We just want them to focus on the keys and  make blocks every single play. We have to go back and evaluate what we did wrong over the season. That is what we’ll focus on.”

Story wants his players to take their confidence from their last three games into the playoffs.

“We felt like we could get going and stop making mental mistakes,” Story said.

“The kids have done fairly well in the latter part of the season. We were top heavy early on, and we got hit in the mouth by some good teams. They kept working and believing that we could get in. All we want is a chance. Our kids are excited to be in the playoffs.”

The Panthers will be on the road against Comer, and Story feels like it will be a good challenge for his team.

“We’re going to use this as motivation,” Story said.

“We’re a four seed. When you go into the playoff as a four seed, you’re going to be an underdog. They have a right to be number one. We had to grow up in a lot of areas. I’m not worried about that part of it. I’m just worried about how we’ll play. We have the chance to go in there and upset them.”

Lanett will play in Sylacauga at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday.