The Amory Panthers gained a much needed week off after winning their division, being one of two teams in Class 3A that got a first-round bye.
Now the Panthers are ready to get back to action this Friday with a second-round playoff game at home against Choctaw County.
“It’s definitely been a 10-12 week grind so far. It was a good week to get a mix of our bumps and bruises healed up and to just be able to focus on us,” Amory coach Allen Glenn said. “We kind of took this week and got back to our basics and fundamentals because some of that gets lost during a game week. It was good for us to get back to those things.”
The Panthers are currently riding a five-game winning streak that started after their lone loss of the season against New Albany.
Glenn said he feels like his team is clicking on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Amory has allowed 20 points or less in the last four wins, which included back-to-back shutouts against Alcorn Central and Nettleton.
“Defensively we have been able to play all year, but especially the last few weeks,” he said. “Offensively, we have also done fairly well. We kind of sputtered some against Nettleton, but we had our chances that game and squandered some. The last two weeks, we have played really well again offensively.”
Wide receiver Jay Hampton comes off a big game against Belmont as Hunter Jones connected with him for all three touchdown passes. Glenn hopes to get Braxton Griffin back during the playoff game but has seen some younger receivers step up.
“Belmont gave us the opportunity to hit Jay a few times, and Hunter did a good job of spreading the ball around and finding him when the opportunity came up,” Glenn said. “Corbin Gillentine is a guy who really stepped up when we lost James (Spratt) for the season, and then Will McComb did this past week with Braxton out. That’s going to have to continue because this is the time of the year you need all hands on deck. I’m excited about those guys stepping up and taking responsibility.”
The Panthers have also seen a boost in their running game behind Charleston French as their offensive line has improved throughout the season.
“Charleston has been patient all year, and he’s back to his old self after battling an ankle sprain early in the year,” Glenn said. “Our offensive line has kind of gelled, and I think it was just a matter of them getting those game reps. That’s something you can’t put a price tag on.”
Glenn called last Wednesday’s practice one of the best they have had all season.
“The tempo of practice pace was where it needed to be, and our guys understand the importance of it that the way you practice on a week you’re off will carry over,” he said. “We just went back to the fundamentals offensively, working on our exchanges and going through the routes that are the staples in our system. Defensively, we just worked on pursuit and getting 11 hats to the ball on every play.”
Second round opponent Choctaw County is coming off a 31-14 win over Water Valley in the first round.
“We know it’s going to be a battle because any time you get to the second round, you see a good team,” Glenn said. “Choctaw has a running back that’s a really good player, and he’s been banged up so it will be interesting to see where he’s at. Their quarterback is also an athletic guy. They have a lot of good pieces and play in a really tough division, which means they have played some really good football that’s got them prepared for the playoffs.”