By DJ MOORE
COVINGTON, Ga — The Peachtree Academy Panthers have seen progress with the team at the start of the season. Just last week, the Panthers defeated New Creati0n 44-0.
Coach Jim Eidson is now in his third season as the head coach for the Panthers, and his team is now 3-2 after defeating Westminster Christian Academy 48-0 and Covenant Academy 52-6. Their two losses of the young season came against Vidalia Heritage Academy and on homecoming against Sherwood.
Despite sitting at .500, the improvement is still evident. And if you ask what the main contributing factor for this team’s improvement is, Panther players will sum it up in their one-word motto for 2022: Grit.
“Last year we got a new coach, and he pushed us to our limits and a new mindset about grit and losing your loser mindset,” said senior Justin Kearns.
Senior wide receiver Kore Haynes agreed.
“Grit is determination and the mindset of being able to continue and push through pain and adversity and being able to strive towards an end goal,” Haynes said.
It helped the Panthers bounce back from disappointing back-to-back seasons, where they finished 3-4 in 2020 (COVID-19 season) and 3-5 (0-2 in region play) in 2021. The team is beginning to put all that behind it, though.
“We are just putting in work every single day and trying our best,” Haynes said.
Eidson and the Panthers can credit this year’s turnaround to a more rigorous offseason work ethic, and it has paid off.
In the Panthers’ first three games, they’ve averaged 42 points per game while only surrendering 10.6 per contest on defense. Even in the loss to Sherwood, Peachtree Academy’s offense played well enough to win.
That’s a huge change from last year when, through the first three games, the Panthers were getting out scored, on average, 33-18.
As a result, Eidson emphasized getting a faster start to the season by starting fast early in games. He said this allows his team to understand that winning early can be beneficial for the Panthers in the playoffs.
The Panthers are now refocused on competing for a Georgia Association of Public and Parochial Schools state championship, where before the last two losing seasons, the Panthers won the 2018 and 2019 GAPPS state titles.
“The main goal for the season is for us to go to state and whoop some tail,” said quarterback Dillon Pitts.