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PREVIEW CAPSULE: Tiftarea Academy

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CLASS/REGION: GISA Region 3-AAA

2013 RECORD: 5-6

COACH: Ryan Branch (3rd year)

RETURNING STARTERS: G Mitchell Layfield (Sr., 6-0, 215); OT Layne Powell (Sr., 6-2, 190); FB Ross Sutton (Jr., 6-1, 210); LB Taylor Dukes (Sr., 5-9, 180); OT Trent Hobbs (Sr., 6-0, 190); TE Jack Raines (Sr., 6-4, 225); SS Charlie Massey (Sr. 6-2, 195); SE Nathan Carswell (Sr., 6-4, 175); TB Ethan Mims (Sr., 5-10, 175); LB/QB Bailey Cunningham (Sr., 5-9, 165); RB/LB Noah McMinn (Sr., 5-7, 175); CB Wesley O’Quinn (Sr., 5-7, 150); FS/QB Logan Carswell (Soph., 6-2, 205); DT Conner Kozma (Jr., 6-2, 170)

2014 SCHEDULE:

Aug. 21 — Crisp Academy

Aug. 29 — at Georgia Christian

Sept. 5 — Frederica Academy

Sept. 12 — at Pinewood Christian

Sept. 19 — Valwood School

Sept. 26 — at Deerfield-Windsor

Oct. 3 — at Westwood School

Oct. 17 — at Brookwood School

Oct. 24 — Southland Academy

Oct. 31 — Terrell Academy

SMALL THINGS: During Ryan Branch’s three years, the Tiftarea Academy Panthers have had to overcome a numbers problem. Usually among the smallest schools in GISA Class AAA, the Panthers have had to battle region rivals with many more players. “We have 42 players out right now, and that pales in comparison with some of the schools we will play,” said head coach Ryan Branch. “We have some numbers coming up though, because our middle school is the biggest part of the school.”

FAMILIAR: Even though the numbers may not be as much as their opponents, the Panthers should have good chemistry. Branch listed 14 returning starters, with 11 being seniors. While only three of the players are listed with two positions, you can expect many of the players to see significant time both ways.

QUARTERBACK BATTLE: One of the key players the Panthers lost to graduation from 2013 was quarterback Rob Flick. Sophomore Logan Carswell and senior Bailey Cunningham are in what Branch called a “neck-and-neck battle” to see who takes over in Branch’s offense. Whoever doesn’t start at quarterback will be sure to see time at another position.