Until two years ago the West Gadsden High School Panthers stood between Port St. Joe and a district title.

Until two years ago the West Gadsden High School Panthers stood between Port St. Joe and a district title.

This week the Panthers (9-1) are the hurdle the Tiger Sharks (6-3) must vault to continue on in the playoffs.

Port St. Joe travels to West Gadsden 7 p.m. ET Friday in a Region 1-1A semifinal. The victor will play the winner of Blountstown and Chipley to be played in Blounstown the same night.

Should Port St. Joe and Chipley win, the region final would be played in Port St. Joe next week.

But that is getting way ahead, as the Panthers provide a stiff test for a Port St. Joe team which has reached the playoffs each of the past four years, reaching the Class 1A title game each of the past two years.

“They are a very athletic team,” said Port St. Joe coach John Palmer of West Gadsden. “They throw the ball pretty good.

“They run some spread offense, but they also run a lot of two-back sets.”

The Panthers average more than 250 yards a game through the air and add another 170 yards per game on the ground.

Defensively, Palmer said, West Gadsden will play something of a match-up scheme; they can fill the box against the run or disburse against a spread formation.

“We have got to be able to control the ball,” Palmer said. “We are going to need to score and play from ahead.

“If they are able to play from their entire playbook, they are obviously going to be tough to beat.”

The Tiger Sharks enter coming off a 46-6 win over Tallahassee FAMU to complete a brutal final 10 days to the regular season.

That stretch included a road trip to Freeport for a win to secure a spot in a district shootout and the district shootout last Monday in Blountstown from which Port St. Joe emerged as district runner-up.

Quarterback Ethan Sander threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns, Marshall Sweet rushed three times for 70 yards and two touchdowns and Jasmin Thomas added a rushing touchdown as Port St. Joe built a 38-8 halftime lead to trigger a running clock throughout the second half.

“We are in good shape,” Palmer said. “The kids are playing hard. They are excited to be in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. For the seniors, that is very exciting.

“We are also healthy. We will be getting everybody back and we are ready to go.”