Second-Year Batesburg-Leesville Head Coach Gary Adams looks ahead to 2018 season
Adams feels confident about skill players, hopes to find quality replacements for departed offensive linemen
Batesburg-Leesville, SC (James Bowers) - The town of Batesburg-Leesville is famed for two things, Shealy’s BBQ and Panther football. It is the latter that has the power to shut the town down on a Friday night, with the retail district going silent as B-L citizens flood Batesburg-Leesville High School’s stadium. The passion and fellowship around high school football in the northwestern most town in Lexington County is the kind of thing they write country songs about. The Panthers are the Nebraska Cornhuskers of Palmetto State prep football, a team from a rural, agricultural area with a fanbase whose loyalty and family-like devotion are unmatched by any other team in the sport. The Panthers own seven state football championships in a nearly century-long football history.
Gary Adams, who once donned the purple and gold himself as captain of the Panthers’ 1995 AA State Title team, is in his second year as head coach after spending the past decade and change as an assistant and defensive coordinator under previous Head Coaches Courtney McInnis, Jerry Brown, and Perry Woolbright. Adams’ debut season at the B-L helm resulted in a 7-6 campaign that ended in a loss to Barnwell in the Class 3-A Lower State title game.
Adams is confident in the two quarterbacks Tee Williams and Ke’Shoun Williams, saying that either of them could be an effective successor to graduated signal-caller Bishop Cannon. Adams is comfortable with his group of receivers Shuantrel Hendrix and Jahntrelle Jones. Running back will be another strong spot with seasoned backs Tay WIlson and Emmanuel Gantt returning for the Cats. The offensive line will need to learn quickly, three 2017 starters departed B-L for the college ranks, two headed for Mars Hill University in North Carolina with another continuing his career at North Greenville University. Defensively, the linebacker position took a hit from attrition, and Adams says that some kids will be asked to play out of position this season. Otherwise, Adams is confident in his defensive group.
Adams says he plans to stay with the same offensive and defensive schemes for this season. The offense will use the spread formation in multiple variations, with a slight preference for the run in terms of play calling. Defensively, the Panthers will use a 3-5-3 base, but do plenty of shifting, creating confusing looks for opponents.
The Panthers’ schedule will be tough, region 2-2A is one the most competitive in the region, with Saluda (13-2 in 2017), Ninety-Six, and defending AA State Champion Abbeville among B-L’s league foes. Adams is also looking forward to an early-season home game against Lexington. LHS Head Coach Perry Woolbright is the former Batesburg-Leesville coach, creating an atmosphere of familiarity between the AA and AAAAA schools as many B-L players played under Woolbright during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Adams served as the defensive Coordinator under Woolbright when he was head man in B-L. The game is a continuation of a decades-long rivalry that began when the two schools were much closer in size. Panther Stadium will be filled to capacity and beyond with standing-room only crowds. Another foe Adams and company look forward to is Newberry, who he describes as a “strong program,”
Adams knows there will be some room to grow for his program, and says he would be happy with a 7-3 record going into the playoffs if the team plays at its finest, given the strength of schedule and the inexperience in some positions. However, the Panthers are a team you can never count out, and don’t be surprised if they exceed that expectation.
For more information on Batesburg-Leesville football, visit https://www.facebook.com/Batesburg-Leesville-Athletics-277725262600998/
2018 BATESBURG-LEESVILLE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
August 17-vs Ridge Spring-Monetta
August 24-vs Gilbert
August 31-@ Newberry
September 14-vs Lexington
September 28-@ Abbeville*
October 5-@ Silver Bluff*
October 12-vs Ninety Six*
October 19-@ Fox Creek*
October 25-vs Saluda*