LEESBURG -- Lee County head coach Dean Fabrizio was sick to his stomach before Friday's 39-32 win against Hardaway. The near disaster that was the second half couldn't have helped matters.
Fabrizio said he was "real close" to missing Friday's game, arriving just an hour before kickoff, after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with what he thought was some type of food poisoning.
Credit Lee County's coaching staff for stepping in and having the Trojans ready to play -- and they clearly were, building a 32-6 lead before Hardaway stormed back with 20 unanswered points until the Trojans' maligned defense came up with a stop at the end.
"That worries me a lot," senior linebacker Kolt Parsons said of the second-half lapse. "We've got to figure out how to finish out games."
Parsons was in on 2.5 of the Trojans' six sacks on the night. Senior Brett Pressley also had a sack and a huge forced fumble and recovery when he single-handedly stripped Hardaway quarterback Joseph Gibson inside the Trojans' 30 at the end of the third quarter.
Lee County and Hardaway both scored five touchdowns in the game. The difference? The Trojans went for two out of the Wildcat formation after the first four scores and converted every time with Denzel Eckles or Sanford Seay runs. Hardway was forced to go for two after trailing 24-0 in the second quarter and failed three times.
So, why did the Trojans forgo the extra point in the first half?
"Because two is worth more than one," Fabrizio said smiling. "It seemed to work. It's a good thing we did."
The second-year Trojans' coach, who's hasn't been known to employ the two-point strategy since taking over at Lee County, said there's only one way to find out if it will continue.
"Show up next week and see," he said.
Next week is Thomas County Central week in Leesburg. It doesn't get much bigger than this one. With the No. 1 seed in Region 1-AAAA all but wrapped up by Northside Warner Robins after they whipped TCC, 34-13, Friday's game may be for the No. 2 seed.
"The winner has inside track for hosting a first-round playoff game," Fabrizio said.
Quarterback Justin Walker surpassed the 2,000-yard mark and threw his 30th touchdown of the season Friday. Walker now has 2,158 yards passing in seven games, an average of 308 yards per game. A win Friday would give the Trojans seven wins on the season, matching their combined win total the last four years.
FATHER KNOWS BEST:
It's never easy to be a quarterback on a high school team when your father's the coach, but it could not have worked out better for Westwood, where junior QB Mason Worsham runs the offense and his dad Ross Worsham is the coach.
Mason knows it's always best to just trust dad. On Friday, Westwood faced a fourth and goal from the four yard line against Windsor and the coach called for a pass play to receiver John Vereen.
"When the play came in I wasn't sure about the play that dad had called,'' Mason said. "But (I knew) he knew what he was doing.''
He sure did.
Vereen was open and Mason put the ball on the money for the four-yard TD as Vereen pulled in his eighth TD reception of the season.
Ross not only has an undefeated team at 8-0 and the top-ranked Class
A team in the state in the GISA Coaches Poll, but he has managed to keep his kids focused, which is never easy during a perfect season.
"I tell them, 'Don't look at the record,' '' Ross said. "We look at it as 10, one-game seasons.''
That's the way his players feel, too.
"We know there's a target on our back because we're undefeated, and we know the more that we win that the target gets bigger and bigger,'' Mason said. "We know we have to be ready every week.''
But that's OK. They can live with the target.
"There's pressure every week,'' said Jake Edore, one of only four seniors on the team. "Especially, because they want to knock off No. 1. But that makes it more exciting for us.''
Edore is pretty exciting himself. He does a little of everything for Westwood, from being a tough running back to handling the kicking duties. He not only send kickoffs into the end zone on a regular basis, but he won a game against Southwest Georgia Academy with a 27-yard field goal with 1:20 left in the season opener, and kicked a 38-yard field goal that proved to be the difference in a 10-7 win against Sherwood earlier this season.
And on Friday it was Edore who came out of nowhere to knock down a pass on a two-point conversion against Windsor that kept the score at 7-6 early in the game. Westwood went on to win 35-12, but at the time, Edore's play looked as big as any in the first half as Westwood took a 14-6 lead into halftime.
That's the kind of play that defines Westwood's season -- a bunch of kids coming out of nowhere and doing all the little things.
"We don't have a stud player,'' the Wildcats' coach said. "We've got a bunch of kids who work hard and play together as a team.''
And a bunch of kids who listen to the coach -- and believe in each other.