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SUNDAY PREP NOTEBOOK: Truitt happy at Monroe, but will listen to change

Photo by Paul Dehner

Photo by Paul Dehner

ALBANY -- Monroe coach Charles Truitt makes sure to make one point.

"I love it here," said the Tornadoes coach a day after his sixth season as coach concluded in a 14-7 overtime defeat to undefeated Jackson in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.

However, he took over a program coming out of a stretch of just five winning seasons in the previous 23 and led them to the postseason four of the last five years.

Chances to move up could be coming his way.

Once again, he loves Monroe, but in the wake of another year ending, he knows he needs to look at all his options.

"There is always room to grow," said Truitt, who is 35-30 in six seasons. "Everybody wants to advance and always if the opportunity presents itself you have to listen."

Truitt was the defensive coordinator in Americus and won two state championships there before taking the job in Albany.

Monroe has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs in its history. Twice Truitt has made it to the second round in his time there, both of those ending in losses to teams from Columbus (Shaw 28-7, Carver 45-12).

He thought this year's version of the Tornadoes had a chance to set school history, but it couldn't push the ball in the end zone in the second half of the game against Jackson for the deciding score.

"We had chances to win," Truitt said. "We were a play here or there from busting the game wide open. We didn' t make stops and didn't make plays when we needed to."

All season the offense struggled to score points and match a defense that was among the best in the state, allowing a little over 10 points a game this year.

But Truitt isn't in the business of pointing fingers.

"My coaches on that side of the ball do a great job," Truitt said. "We left opportunties all over the field on Friday. I am proud of the way the kids came out and fought. They went out and played their hearts out."

Truitt loses 12 starters to graduation this year and says he will need to take a look at everybody returning over the coming weeks.

"Always at the end of the season I take a step back and see what direction we are going," he said. "I love it here but I always take steps to evalute the situation."

TROUBLE FROM THE START: It only took three plays on Friday night for Worth County to lose much of the momentum it gained in winning four of its final five games in the regular season.

It was a third-and-9 pitch Juwan Thompson took 73 yards for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead for Woodward Academy.

"Looked like the wind came out of their sails then," Ward said. "(Woodward) got it again and drove on us to make it 14-0. It just kind of went from there."

It ended up going to a 34-0 Woodward Academy victory that was 24-0 at halftime.

Worth switched its offense midseason from one open to the passing attack to one focused almost entirely on the run.

It was not built to overcome early deficits.

"Early this season we tried to open it up and that wasn't good for us," Ward said. "We knew in reality we would have to throw the ball and complete some passes."

Ward says that is something he hopes the team will be able to do better next season. The Rams return all of their skill position players, including talented running backs Jhue Rhodes and Ellis Anderson.

SPEED KILLS: It was interesting to see Miller County's speed and athleticism matched up against Brookstone, a private school from Columbus, in Friday's 33-26 Miller win in the first round of the GHSA Class A playoffs.

The Cougars (8-3) couldn't match the Pirates' speed on the edge, namely running back Shawndre Sheffield, but they did have success on offense with a grinding running attack and then the big pass play, two of which went for scores of 50-plus yards.

"They do so much with lesser athletes," Miller head coach Frank Killingsworth said of Brookstone. "What they lack in athletic ability they make up for in technique."

Miller County (9-2) is now 5-0 against Brookstone and 11-3 all-time vs. private school teams. The speed differential was apparent, although only two of Sheffield's 22 carries went for more than 20 yards.

"We just don't have as much speed as some of these teams have," Brookstone head coach Blair Harrison said.

The farthest Miller County has ever advanced in the playoffs was in 1999 when it made it to the Final Four. Last year the Pirates got to what Killingsworth calls the 'Thanksgiving Round,' also known as the quarterfinals, before losing to eventual state champ Wesleyan, which is also a private school.

To get back and possibly past that point, Miller County will have to beat Savannah Christian, yet another private school, Friday in Savannah and then face the winner of perennial power Lincoln County and Eagles Landing Christian Academy (another private school).

"Everybody is good now," Killingsworth said. "There ain't but 16 of us (left)."

LOWE HURT: Deerfield coach Allen Lowe was so excited with the game-clinching touchdown pass from Banks Kinslow to Justin Webb on Friday night, he jumped into the in celebration.

When he came down, however, it wasn't quite as thrilling.

"It felt like my calf exploded," said Lowe.

The DWS coach limped up and down the sidelines and struggled walking after the game.

He met with a doctor and believes he popped a muscle in his leg and is currently in a walking boot.

Was the play worth the pain?

"Of course it was," he said. "I probably wouldn't try jumping again. Sometimes God has a way of reminding us how old we are."

DWS will host Pinecrest on Friday in the GISA Class AAA Final 4.