Friday Night Lights: Panthers get ready for rival Conway

cffoot-bealepitch(Editor’s Note: Matt Beale plays quarterback for the Carolina Forest High football team. He shares his experiences in the second of a series of essays about high school football.)

Friday night’s game against Conway, our third region game of the season, is the rivalry game that has my entire school looking for redemption.

We need to shift our focus week to week, looking at each opponent separately. Four great days of practice, focused specifically on the task at hand,  really puts us in a great spot to win football games. Every team is tough to beat, so if we don’t come in on Friday nights with the right mindset, we could lose any given game.

We see our region games like the start of a new season, because region wins equal a playoff berth. The playoffs are something very important to our school and our team. You can’t have hopes of winning a state championship if you don’t get to the playoffs first.

These are the most important games of the year and in order to win, our team has to come together as one, continuing our family and “I got your back” style of play.  We have already faced many obstacles this year, including key players being injured. We have adopted a “next man up” kind of system where, as people have gone down, others have stepped their game up.

Injuries have definitely affected our team, but more than anything it has proven that football is truly a team sport. We have still been able to have a very successful season even in the absence of these players, and I believe the success will continue throughout these tough region games.

Another factor to each and every game is the weather. We were restricted from playing two games against South Florence and Sumter due to Hurricane Matthew. The good thing about this setback is that we will finish the season with three straight home games, against Conway, South Florence, and Sumter.

Bad weather shouldn’t dictate the outcome of a game, but it’s just one of those uncontrollable things that you have to deal with. Two games we’ve played (against Loris and Socastee) were not exactly played in the best of conditions. The field conditions were very muddy and wet,  yet we have been consistent moving the ball on offense and our defense is really tightening things up.

It’s very comforting to lead an offense when you know your defense won’t let you down. With the defense we have, the offense should only need to score around 14 to 21 points in order to win a game. They have already pitched two shutouts this season.

It’s great to be 6-1, and it’s great to be a Panther.

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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