High School Football - Lanett vs Elba

Lanett's Travaunta Abner (7) returns a fumble for a touchdown in the first half of the Panthers' home playoff game against Elba on Friday.

Despite having homefield advantage for every playoff game so far this fall, Mother Nature has forced the Lanett Panthers to hit the road on Friday.

Lanett will play its quarterfinals game against Isabella at Valley’s Ram Stadium due to poor field conditions at Lanett’s Morgan-Washburn Stadium. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.

“By Isabella being so far away, I thought it was best for them as well as our community for both teams to have a safe surface to play on. I just felt like ours was not safe to play on for the game,” Lanett head coach Clifford Story said. “Injuries happen in the game of football, but you want to do whatever you can to prevent it on your end. With all the big divots and holes and different things that were on our field from the bad rain Thursday and Friday, I just had to go ahead and make a decision that would be beneficial for both programs.”

Story said the rainy conditions in Lanett all night Thursday and all day Friday left the field extremely wet and muddy prior to the Panthers’ second round game against Elba. The 48 minutes of game action that followed didn’t help matters, leaving Story and the other Lanett coaches to try and salvage the field in the days leading up to Friday.

Story said they would have had to wait until Friday to check the field and make a decision, which he felt wasn’t fair for an Isabella team that will be traveling two hours that day. Instead, Story began the proper protocol to move the game.

“I reached out to (AHSAA executive director Steve) Savarese, and he told me that both principals just need to send him an email saying they agree and we could move forward from there,” Story said. “Both of them did it, and then I reached out to (Valley athletic director Adam) Hunter and asked him if it would be possible if we could use their field. He told me he would call me right back. He reached out to his superintendent and his principal.

“Thanks to both of them, the city of Valley and all of those that played an important role in making it happen. “

Story explained that moving the game just down the road to Valley is as convenient as possible given the circumstances.

“It’s not out of the way really for them or us. Instead of taking a left, they’ll take a right,” Story said. “It’s a three-, four- or five-minute drive for us. We just felt like we needed to do it.”

Lanett’s would-be home game now likely means history will be made in Ram Stadium. Panthers quarterback Kristian Story is one touchdown away from tying Pinson Valley’s Bo Nix’s AHSAA record of 161 total career touchdowns.

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