By Eric Tabor
The excitement is as thick as the black paint that now covers the end zones at the Albany Civic Center.
It is the playoffs, and for the second time in as many years, the June spotlight shines on Albany, Georgia, as the Panthers host the Erie Explosion in the second postseason home game in Albany’s – two season history.
Most Panthers — including key contributors like linebacker Corey Rue — haven’t experienced the crackle of the postseason in Albany.
“I just tell (Corey) Rue to buckle his seatbelt, because it’s going to be a great ride,” said wide receiver John Harris, who is one of many players still with the team who took part in the home postseason clash with Louisiana in June 2010.
But above all, the players on both teams know that it is still a game. Their seasons and championship dreams hang in the balance, but without accepting the contest in its proper context, the enormity of the moment can overwhelm.
“I’m sure there’ll be some added emotion there, but when the dust settles, it is just another game,” tight end Aaron Wheeler said. “For guys that have never been in another playoff game before — and I’m one of them –it’s just like we played the (Columbus) Lions the first time. You go out, you make plays. It’s football. We’ve played it all of our lives. It’s no different.”
Added defensive back LeVance Richmond: “It’ll really hit me once game time comes. But right now we’re just trying to get our techniques and assignments down and just go out there and play.”
The Panthers will take on the Erie Explosion, Saturday, June 18t at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to play the winner of the Columbus/Trenton game.
Pre-game activities Saturday begin at 7 p.m. All tickets are $15 and are available by contacting the Albany Civic Center Box Office, visiting www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling (877)-544-8499.
Defensive back Corey Rue and his teammates will host a playoff game versus Erie on Saturday at the Albany Civic Center. SPECIAL PHOTO