Lakeside Panthers prepare for battle with an old rival

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 7:56 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The phrase “this town isn’t big enough for the two of us” takes on a whole new meaning whenever Evans and Lakeside clash on the football field.

We stopped by the Panthers practice on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s battle for the soul of Columbia County.

The rivalry between Evans and Lakeside goes back a long way, and even though both the Knights and the Panthers have had their share of up-and-down starts to their seasons, you can bet they’re going to bring their a-games this week.

The Panthers are coming into Friday’s showdown sitting at 2 and 2 on the season.

Anytime you have a quarterback playing his first year behind center and a brand-new offense, it takes a little time for everyone to get on the same page.

“Before region, we were clicking, but we weren’t really all the way there. I feel like now we’re going to be clicking during region because now you can’t make any mistakes. I feel like, we’ve got to play hard on both sides of the ball in order to win,” said Mi’Keal Grissom, junior quarterback for Lakeside.

The Knights will be the Panther’s first opponent in region play and the players say they’re ready to turn the page towards the second half of their season, which starts on Friday.

Justin Barnes, senior defensive lineman for Lakeside, said: “I feel like now that we’re more complete. The offense is coming together, the defense is staying solid, so I think coming into region play we should do big things.”

Last year’s game was certainly one to remember. Lakeside was down 20 to 2, and they stormed back to beat Evans 21 to 20.

“In non-region play, you know, you can make mistakes, you can do stuff, but now every game is serious. Like, you can’t lose games. So, we have to turn it up, so we can become region champions,” said Barnes.

Cedric Mason, assistant head coach for Lakeside, said: “This rivalry is different because at one point they used to share a field. Evans and Lakeside used to share a field and it’s just a battle of who’s going to be more physical, and who’s going to be the tougher team here.”