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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI Sports) – West Lowndes high school working on special teams this week as they put the pads on for the first time. The Panthers are preparing for their jamboree game at Mississippi State Saturday morning.

“The jamboree, it’s kind of coming up on us a little quick,” head coach Anthony King. “School just started back and it’s our first day in pads so we’re just now working on special teams but we want to go over there, we don’t want anyone hurt, but we want to see where we at as a team. I think we should get better past the jamboree.”

King is in his third season. West Lowndes made it to the 1A playoffs last year. It was just the team’s second postseason appearance since 2003.

“We played good, but going to the playoffs and losing it’s something you can’t forget about,” senior linebacker Phytrell Williams said. “But you have to move on to next season.”

The Panthers return 15 starters from their 5-7 squad, seven of those on defense.

“I think the defense is going to be the strength of our team,” King said. “We have a lot of guys coming back. We have all three of our starting linebackers coming back from last year, those guys can run pretty good. We also have two veteran defensive ends. We should be pretty good on defense.”

Third-year starting quarterback Justin Stephenson is back.

“Him being a senior, this is his third year so I’m hoping he makes the offense go pretty smoothly this year,” King said.

Stephenson threw for 2,000 yards a year ago. Junior Eric Harris had 900 all-purpose yards. He tells me he’s shooting for 2,000 this season.

“We got a chance to play in the playoffs against Bogue Chitto. We went down there and played our hearts out,” junior running back Eric Harris said. “We led most of the game and they came and took over at the end but we were proud of ourselves. This year, we play on taking it all though.”

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