Herald prep football beat writer Mike Phillips
I went to Leesburg this week. I went there looking for it, you know, the fear.
I wasn't look for deer-in-headlights fear, although I sure could have found it. It was more like the kind of fear you see when you just aren't sure, a little uncertain. That's what I thought I'd find.
Didn't see it.
Honest. I just didn't see it or hear about it or even sense it. If anyone thinks Lee County is afraid of state No. 1 Northside, Warner Robins, forget about it.
Don't look for the Lee County kids to dance into the stadium tonight thinking they're going to have a waltz. They know all about Northside's machine. They've heard about the No. 1 ranking, the tradition and more.
It's just there is no fear with these guys. Win or lose tonight, Dean Fabrizio's kids won't be intimidated.
How good is Northside? Better than you think. This is one of those rivers you hear about in sports, the kind that just keeps flowing every year, the kind that drowns everything in its sight. The Eagles have lost 12 games in this century, and have a 35-game winning streak against Class AAAA teams, dating back to 2005. If you count the 2005 season, they are 39-1 against teams in this class.
They played in Class AAAA the last two years, and went 14-1 a year ago, losing in the state title game.
Lee County had won four games over the last three seasons before finding the launching pad this season and taking off with an offense that leaves teams shaking their heads.
Yeah, these guys not only know where the end zone is, they have a DisneyWorld fastpass. You gotta love that no-huddle, no-nonsense approach to the game. They just line up and say: "We're throwing the ball. Try to stop us.''
That's why there's no fear now. Fabrizio has these kids believing in themselves. If you can coach that, everything else will follow.
Do they believe they can knock off the No. 1 team in the state, a team that will be sky-high to beat them because Lee just landed in the state's Top 10 poll this week?
Sure they do. Nothing cocky here, just a deep-in-the-heart kind of courage it takes to pull off an upset of this magnitude.
And no one even knows what that magnitude is. They wouldn't just be beating the No. 1 team, they would be toppling a dynasty.
Would you have believed this game would even exist back in August when the Lee County kids were talking about the promise of a new season, a new beginning in Leesburg? They believed it could happen then, even when no one else did.
So here they are. It's going to be crazy tonight, standing-room-only, hold-your-breath on every play crazy at Lee County's stadium.
Can they pull it off?
Sure. Here's the prediction: I'm going with the Trojans, and I'm picking them with no fear at all.
PREDICTION: Lee County 28, Northside 24.
MTCHELL COUNTY AT MILLER COUNTY:
There are some big ones this week. None bigger in Region 1-A than Mitchell at Miller tonight, where some of the best talent in this part of the state will show up. When Mitchell's Justin Scott-Wesley and Miller's Juwan Jones are in the NFL, they'll be talking about how they met in high school.
This should be a beauty.
PREDICTION: Mitchell 21, Miller 14.
WESTWOOD AT RANDOLPH SOUTHERN:
Then there's the classic GISA showdown in Shellman, where Randolph Southern meets GISA's top-ranked Class A team, Westwood. It will be packed, and it will be tense. It will be one of the best GISA games this season, and it will be Westwood. Randolph Southern is talented, but no one is better in the clutch than the Wonders from Westwood.
PREDICTION: Westwood 17, Randolph Southern 14.
WORTH COUNTY AT MONROE:
Impossible Pick No 2. Flip a coin on this one. Two teams going in opposite directions. Worth had the Ramback Game last week, beating Westover to snap a three-game losing streak, and now Monroe, facing it's own three-game losing streak, has to find the same way to turn its season around.
I think the Tornadoes will.
PREDICTION: Monroe 21, Worth 20.
STEWART COUNTY AT BACONTON:
And finally, the bonus pick: Baconton Charter beats Stewart County for the first win (on the field) in its history. Do I sound like a cheerleader? Maybe it's just this Blazers cap I've been wearing.
Come one, everybody wants these kids to win one. Hopefully, Saturday is the night!
PREDICTION: Baconton Charter 21, Stewart County 14.