Bryant High School Athletics


Panthers looking for win No. 1 against PHS


For the first time this season, Philadelphia High School enters an upcoming game on the heels of a loss. Previously winless Louisville High School defeated the Tornadoes 32-7 last Friday at Philadelphia’s Harpole Stadium. This week, another winless squad, Quitman High School, will try to hand Philadelphia its second loss of the season when the two teams meet on the gridiron Friday. On paper, all wasn’t bad for the Tornadoes last week. Head coach Teddy Dyess’ team ran 61 plays to Louisville’s 50, and Philadelphia forced three second-half turnovers which it was unable to convert into points. “I thought we played pretty well on defense; our defense gave us a chance to stay in the game,” Dyess said. “It also made me feel good that we had more snaps than them because that’s one of our goals each game. But on the same token, when you have nine more offensive snaps than the other team, you have to take advantage and put the ball in the end zone.” Quitman most recently dropped a 35-13 contest to East Central High School. To Dyess, the Panthers’ record shouldn’t matter, as he said they’re a well-coached, athletically talented team. “Defensively, they are really, really good — their front might be the best front we face this year,” Dyess explained. They’re 0-4, but they’ve lost to some really good football teams, and I think Quitman is a team you’ll see in the 4A playoffs when it’s all said and done. Offensively, they have athletes all over the field. At some point, they’re going to get it going, and I just hope it’s not Friday night.” It hasn’t been an easy go of things for Quitman High School this season as it enters Friday’s Philadelphia contest winless on the year. There’s no question about the Panthers’ ability on the defensive side of the ball. The offense, however, has yet to gain traction. On offense this season, the Panthers have scored just 47 points, while the defense has yielded 135. Quitman’s road to Friday’s Tornadoes contest hasn’t been easy, as the Panthers played Laurel and Kemper County high schools in the first two weeks of the season, and allowed a combined 79 points in those games. Panthers head coach Steve Bynum said he expects his offense to find his groove before it enters division play. “We have a young freshman quarterback who we’re trying to groom whose going to be really good, but we’re just kind of taking our lumps right now. We have some young receivers — all of my receivers are underclassmen. I have a senior tailback, and a couple of sophomore tailbacks who we rotate in there. We made some strides against Kemper (County) offensively, and we improved a whole lot against West Jones, and kind of took a bunch of steps backwards last week. We’re coming along offensively.” Bynum’s vaunted defensive front seven will be tasked with containing Philly power back Courtney Smith, who rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown last week. “Our front seven, defensively, is pretty good,” Bynum said. “They’re all guys who return from last year. We had a really good game against West Jones. I think they had 28 carries for 42 yards rushing. Last week, they did a really good job with East Central, which (averages) about 350 rushing per ballgame. Our defense played really well up front.” Bynum said he understands his team’s strength of schedule has played a role in its winless start to the season, but he also acknowledged the lessons his players are learning now will undoubtedly pay dividends once division play heats up for the Panthers. “We normally try to play some good, tough competition before we get into the division,” Bynum said. “I think Laurel’s only loss right now is to Hattiesburg. West Jones is 3-1, East Central is 3-1 and third in the nation in rushing. We played Kemper County, and everyone knows how strong they are this year with their passing attack. We’ve played four really good football teams out the gate, which has been good for us. We’ve thrown kids in the fire, and they’ve have to grow up. We make improvements every week, and as long as we do that, by the time we get into division play I think we’re going to be a good football team for sure.”