One year ago, Lakeside was 0-3 going into its game with Thomson and, after the Bulldogs slapped the Panthers with a 44-7 defeat, coach Randy Hill's squad never recovered.
"That was one of the best teams I've ever seen, and we got pounded," Hill said. "It was a killer to get the team motivated after that."
This year, things have changed. Lakeside, which was winless last season, is undefeated after beating Columbia County rival Greenbrier 35-28 last Friday, and the Panthers' attitudes have changed completely.
"Going in 3-0, we're getting a lot more positive feedback from the kids," Hill said. "We're getting a lot more out of them at practice. Hopefully, the kids can keep it up. We just can't make mistakes. We did against Greenbrier, and we let them back in the game. We never should have let that happen."
Still, his squad was good enough to recover from a second quarter in which the Wolfpack out-scored the Panthers 20-8. Greenbrier quarterback Brooks Robinson's second touchdown pass of the day cut the Lakeside lead to seven with 5 minutes to play, but Chris Drayton intercepted Robinson with less than a minute left to seal the game.
That will serve the Panthers well when they play the defending Class AAAA state champion tonight at home (7:30).
"It's confidence and playing at home and the fact that they're not the same team that won a state championship," Hill said. "We feel like we can give them a run for their money."
LANEY NOT DISCOURAGED: Although Laney is on a two-game losing streak and must travel to Hart County to play the fourth-ranked Bulldogs, Wildcats coach Eric Parker isn't terribly upset.
His young team, he said, has had its chances.
"We've been disappointed with the mistakes and turnovers we've had, but when you go back and look, we've seen that we've had opportunities to be 3-0," said Parker, whose squad has been outscored by a combined 10 points in its two losses. "Our kids are in pretty good spirits. They realize they can still put it all together and have a good year."
WACO ON TV, TAKE 2: For the second time this season, Washington County will be featured on Prep Sports Plus.
In the show's "Cream of the Crop" segment, offensive lineman Seth Watts, linebacker Tony Richardson and free safety Stacy Walls will be featured.
The show airs on Georgia Public Television at 11 tonight and at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.