The talk of a region title is growing louder at Americus-Sumter High. The Panthers, under third year head coach Michael Pollock, have grown and have gained experience.
In 2012, the Panthers just have to learn to finish. Two straight second place region finishes, Americus-Sumter has the playoff experience that may payoff this season.
"There's a connection there that's really helping us maybe take that next step in to the playoffs...deeper in the playoffs than we've been," Coach Pollock said.
Deep is the accurate word for the Panthers with nine starters returning on offense. All-Region 1-4A quarterback Bryce Benton will steer the wide open attack. Even with the run and gun style of play, it's the Panthers running backs who are making a difference.
"With Wesley Fields and Brian Stone coming back as freshman starters from last year, they're really giving Bryce (Benton) a true running game to play off of," Pollock said.
However, it's the defense that's benefitting most from the grind of going head to head against Benton and his crew of talent.
"They give us 100% everyday, every rep, every play...we line up to it and have to go at 'em. We have to get ready for Cairo, Monroe or Worth County," senior defensive back Kadarius Bryant said.
Bryant pinpointing the top teams in the Region 1-4A is no accident. The Panthers have a region championship caliber team, but most importantly, they believe it.
"To be honest, I think this is our year to get our region title from Cairo and to be real dominant on offense," receiver Jonathan Thomas said.
"The expectations are great. Honestly, we have a lot of confidence going in to the season and we look forward to a region championship," Benton said.