PREP FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Wildcats living the high life in midst of 7-0 start

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

SHELLMAN -- Apparently, Westwood's players knew something early on that nobody outside the program did. They were going to be very good this year.

"I knew since we started that this was going to be a good team," senior lineman Carlton Brooks said. "I've never been on a team that's felt like such a family."

Now 7-0 and atop GISA Region 2-A with Terrell Academy, Westwood has run roughshod over region opponents by a combined score of 138-28 in three wins, including Friday's 48-12 thumping of Randolph Southern. That's no surprise after Westwood defeated two Class AAA schools and two Class AA schools to open the season.

Randolph Southern head coach Ottis Griggs said this Wildcats team may be the best he's played against in his two years in Shellman.

"They play well together," Griggs said. "You don't like to get beat by them, but you enjoy seeing a team like that."

The regular season finale in three weeks in Dawson between Terrell Academy and Westwood is shaping up to be for the region title. Westwood hasn't beaten the Eagles since 2005.

Westwood's Mitch Good, another standout underclassman for the Wildcats, had two interceptions in Friday's win. Randolph Southern's Matt Kendrick also had an interception to go along with 41 yards rushing.

MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION: After a dominating 37-0 win against Berrien in Region 1-AA play two weeks ago, Albany High couldn't do anything right during Thursday's 48-0 loss to Thomasville.

"We went from playing the best game we have played to playing the worst one we could have possibly played," Indians' head coach Felton Williams said.

Albany (2-5, 1-2 Region 1-AA) fumbled six times in the loss, including one inside the Thomasville 10 after they tried to call a timeout before quarterback Emmanuel Byrd took the snap and somehow lost the ball falling into a pile. Byrd also had a wide open touchdown pass dropped in the first half.

Time to forget about that one, Williams said. Next comes Brooks County (3-4, 1-2 Region 1-AA) in two weeks, a team that beat Monroe and lost to Thomasville, 21-0.

"We've got to get ready for a freshman quarterback (Malcolm Parrish) that plays like a junior or senior," Williams said. "It's going to be smashmouth football."

The Indians are in search of win No. 3 on the season. Albany hasn't won more than three games in a year since 2002.

TERRELL ON A ROLL: Terrell Academy football coach Bill Murdock was pleased with Friday night's 28-14 win against Dawson Street -- the Eagles' third in a row after starting 0-2-1 in their campaign to win the GISA Class A state crown for the third straight year.

Of course, three interceptions by senior Clay Willis was a big reason Murdock was smiling after the dust settled.

"We played a little sloppy (on offense), turned it over a couple of times," Murdock said Saturday. "But every time we did, there was Clay making a big play (and intercepting) another one. In all my 28 years as a coach, I've never seen that. I've had plenty of kids get two (picks). But three? Just amazing."

Murdock said he asked legendary former TAE coach Don Beard, who is now an assistant on Murdock's staff, if he'd every seen anything like that. The answer?

"He said no. We're pretty sure it's a school record," Mudock said.

WIllis' third pick of the game was returned for a TD, officially icing the win as Terrell improved to a perfect 3-0 in Region 3-A play. But even after that rough start, Murdock said it never phased he or his kids.

"I think probably some of our fans felt differently (and weren't happy) about our start, but we do this every year (and) play a tough, non-region schedule to start," the coach said. "We feel doing that can only make us better down the road."

One player Murdock says he's seen vast improvement in is backup QB Zach Hurst, a junior who had to step in for fellow junior Chris Rogers when Rogers tore his ACL early in the season. The Eagles throw the ball less than before with Hurst under center, but as a result have discovered another extremely effective dimension of their offense in Levi Griffin, who rushed for 112 yards and three scores against Dawson.

"It's tough not having Chris, but Zach has stepped up," Murdock said. "And Chris hates not being out there. In fact, he can't even walk right now because he just had the surgery (recently) so he texts us all the time asking how things are going, or after games to see how we did."

Rogers tore his ACL against Brookwood, but actually came back into the game and played it out.

"He's a really tough kid," Murdock said of Rogers.

Speaking of tough, the Eagles know their schedule won't get any easier from here on out, especially because of the showdown looming in the second-to-last game of the year against neighboring rival Westwood (7-0) -- the No. 1 team in the GISA Class A Coaches Poll.

Murdock said the Eagles are taking their games one at a time right now, but admitted that everyone in Dawson knows the showdown is nearing.

And Westwood will be hungry and ready. After all, Murdock is 6-0 against the Wildcats since he took over as coach.

Asked what he thought of Westwood's success this season, Murdock was very complimentary of his team's annual rival.

"(Westwood head coach) Ross (Worsham) is a good friend of mine and I'm real proud of him and all the good things they've done this year," Murdock said. "They've got a real fine team, they work hard and right now they're blowing everyone out in this region.

"We just hope to get better each week so we're ready (for the challenge)."