PERRY -- The Perry Panthers will look to kick start their rebuilding process Friday at Herb St. John Stadium with a win over the visiting Monroe-Albany Tornadoes.
The game also will mark the head coaching debut of longtime assistant Carl Dixon, who has been with the program for 16 years overall.
“We’ve had a real good week,” Dixon said. “We had a couple of shortened and delayed practices due to the electricity in the weather, but overall, we’ve had a good two weeks of practice, to be honest. We’ve been working real hard all summer for this game.”
Perry finished 1-9 a year ago, with the lone win coming in the season opener over Monroe. The Tornadoes rebounded, going 6-3 the rest of the way, including a narrow 7-6 loss at Bainbridge and a 14-6 defeat at Crisp County.
The Panthers used a defensive touchdown, a kick return for a score and likely the benefit of surprise in last season’s contest to escape Albany with a 21-14 win. Perry figures to have the Tornadoes’ full attention Friday.
“They’re absolutely huge up front,” Dixon said. “They’ve got good skill people. They’ve got a good head coach who has been there now for some years, and they’ve been in the playoffs multiple years. They’re going to be a tremendous test for us to see where we stand right now.”
If Perry is to pull off the win once again, it needs to find answers offensively.
Only two starters return on that side of the ball from a unit that didn’t score more than 14 points in a game all season and repeatedly put its defense in short-field situations with turnovers.
Dixon has changed the scheme from a wide-open passing attack to a more conservative ground game in hopes of better protecting the football.
“We’re going to be a run-based offense,” Dixon said. “We’re going to try to control the ball, control the clock and not give it to the other team quite as much as we have in the past. We’ll look a little bit like Georgia Tech, but we also understand that we have to throw when teams put guys in the box.”
While his offense develops, Dixon hopes to be able to steal field position and points through outstanding special teams play.
“We need to play great special teams,” Dixon said. “We’re going to do our best to keep their offense off of the field and of course play great defense, but we’ve really concentrated in the special teams area this year. I think if you work hard there and practice it daily that sometimes you can get an advantage over someone that doesn’t find the time for special teams.”