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Panthers jump into season

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

The LaGrange College Panthers will open their season against a familiar foe.

Since 2008, LaGrange College has kicked off every season against Birmingham Southern, and those two programs will continue that tradition today.

LaGrange College, with new head coach Earl Chambers leading the way, will visit Birmingham Southern for a

Thursday-night opener, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

Birmingham Southern leads the all-time series 6-4, and it beat LaGrange College 29-25 last year.

Both teams are looking to turn things around after finishing with losing records a year ago.

Birmingham Southern, under first-year head coach Tony White, went 3-7.

LaGrange College, with head coach Steve Pardue at the helm, dropped its final two games to finish 4-6.

Pardue stepped down as head coach earlier this summer, and Chambers was tasked as his replacement.

Chambers, who was the defensive coordinator last season, has been on the LaGrange College staff since 2014.

“My deal is this,” Chambers said. “I want my players to expect to win games. And it’s through preparation. It’s through the work they’ve put in. It’s through making sure they’ve done all the little things right. I want them to understand that if we don’t take care of things, do not expect to win.”

Chambers takes over a team that returns nine starters on offense, and five on defense.

The Panthers have to replace quarterback Connor Blair, a three-year starter who set numerous school records.

Nearly every other key offensive player returns, though, including senior wide receiver Marcus Campbell, who had a team-best 67 catches last season for 807 yards and four touchdowns.

Also back is junior running back Brendon Scott, who had 92 carries for 497 yards with four touchdowns.

Among the five returning starters on defense are defensive back Peyton Haynes and linebacker Shamar Slappy, who tied for second on the team last year with 36 tackles.

Birmingham Southern will be an experienced team after a bunch of freshmen got thrown into the fire last season.

PANTHERS’ SCHEDULE

Aug. 30 – at Birmingham Southern, 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 – vs. Berry College, 6 p.m.

Sept. 22 – vs. Apprentice, 1 p.m.

Sept. 29 – at N.C. Wesleyan

Oct. 6 – vs. Averett, 1 p.m.

Oct. 13 – at Greensboro, 1 p.m.

Oct. 20 – vs. Maryville, 2 p.m.

Oct. 27 – at Brevard, 1 p.m.

Nov. 3 – vs. Methodist, 1 p.m.