Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

CAMILLA -- There's confidence, and then there's confidence, but Mitchell County coach Dondrial Pinkins is not only confident, he has an incredible sense of humor.

Mitchell went 4-6 two years ago and 3-7 last year, so when it was pointed out to Pinkins that the sliding trend would produce a 2-8 season this year, he laughed out loud and threw down a promise.

"If we go 2-8, I will wear a blue and red dress right down the middle of Broad Street with a pair of white heels,'' Pinkins said.

Don't start lining up in downtown Camilla for the Pinkins parade just yet. He can keep his work clothes on for now -- but before it's over, there might be a parade in Camilla for the state champs.

Mitchell County looks just that good.

Speaking of trends and numbers, try on these: The Eagles have 18 returning starters, 15 seniors on the 40-man roster and the fastest football player in Georgia.

Make that at LEAST Georgia.

Justin Scott ran the fifth-fastest 100-meter dash (10.35) in the nation last year, and when he gets free on a football field there's no one who can catch him. He broke the Class AA state record in the 100 meters and won his second 200 meter title this past spring. After it was over, Scott stood on the podium at the state track meet, put on a Bulldogs cap and hoody and announced to the world that he was verbally committing to the University of Georgia.

Scott's time in the 100 and all those other numbers may make Mitchell County the No. 1 Class A team in the state. William Haywood, who plays center and linebacker, knows exactly what all those numbers mean.

"If we don't do it now, we'll never do it,'' said Haywood, one of the 15 seniors. "I think we have the best athletes in Southwest Georgia. This can be our year.''

There's one more number that counts: There's just one "A" as in Class A. After years of frustration being one of the smallest Class AA teams in the state, Mitchell finally drops to Class A this season.

"It's going to feel great to look across the field and not be outnumbered and outmanned,'' Scott said. "It's a more level playing field this year. Last year, it felt every game was like a playoff game.

"I feel this is our year. This team is motivated. We're coming into a new region and we have more confidence than ever.''

Region 1-A has been dominated by Miller County and Seminole County over the years, but Mitchell could take over the region, and more importantly, make a legitimate run at a state title.

Pinkins, who was an electric quarterback at South Carolina, came back home to Mitchell three years ago to coach, and he knows the time is right.

"You're looking at Year 3,'' he said. "If you're not confident now, you're not doing your job. That's our motto this year: Be confident, not cocky.

"The difference is being confident, you say this is my job and I can do it. Being cocky is saying whether I can do the job or not, I'm cocky.''

It would be impossible not to have confidence with this team -- and with Scott, who is dangerous every time he touches the ball.

"He's going to get a lot of touches,'' Pinkins said. "We will use him at receiver, at the slot, and running back. We'll move him around so people can't key on him as much, keep people guessing. If they overload on him, a lot of other people will be open.''

Scott had a 300-yard game early last year and finished the 2009 season with 42 receptions for 641 yards and seven TDs, despite being double teamed on almost every play. He will attract even more attention this season.

"I'm prepared to be the decoy if it helps open it up for someone else,'' said Scott, who will also be the team's best defensive back. "I just want to win. I feel like with the offense we run, it puts our athletes in a position to make plays.''

Pinkins runs a wide-open spread and he has a returning quarterback to pull the trigger. Cedrick Spooner (6-foot-1, 165 pounds) threw for more than 1,000 yards last year in the final five games of the season and is poised for a big year.

He's got Scott as a possible TD target on every play, and he also has tight end Reuben Jackson (6'4, 185), who also plays defensive end and is the team's kicker. Spooner has a bevy of other receivers, including seniors Jesse Atkins, Jacoty Gilbert, and Jaylin Mathis -- and running backs Kavoris Pollard and Modzelle Atkins can catch and run, too.

"We've been together since ninth grade, and we have grown as a family,'' Jackson said. "I think our offense is unstoppable if we do what's necessary and execute.''

Pinkins has faith that's exactly what will happen this season.

"This is the third year, and they understand the game plan,'' Pinkins said. "They understand all phases of the offense, and all phases of the defense. The final piece of the puzzle is execution. We've got to execute.''

There is a sense that this is "Our Time'' at Mitchell County.

For Pinkins' sake, it better be.

"I'm not going to be wearing that dress,'' Pinkins said.