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SUNDAY PREP FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Celebration is on in Camilla after Mitchell, Westwood lock down region titles

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

PELHAM -- What a season it's been for Mitchell County.

Make that for all of Camilla.

On the same night the Westwood Wildcats, Camilla's GISA Class A private school, finished a perfect 10-0 regular season and clinched the 3-A title with a win over its biggest rival Terrell Academy, The Herald No. 1-ranked Mitchell County Eagles clinched a title of their own in GHSA Region 1-A.

And their's, too, came against a longtime bitter foe.

The Eagles pummeled Pelham, 47-7, scoring 47 unanswered points after falling behind early to wrap up the region crown in their first season in Class A after dropping down from Class AA this past offseason.

"It feels great right now," said Mitchell County coach Dondrial Pinkins, who is in his third year as head coach. "We came out slow, but we got in a groove and turned things on. Everyone turned it on."

That they did.

Pelham opened the game with a 7-0 lead on a Darius Thomas 15-yard TD catch from Caleb Morrell. But from there, it was all Mitchell.

"We just couldn't do nothing after that first score. Nothing at all," Pelham head coach Jim Morrell lamented. "That's a talented team (Mitchell County). And coach Pinks has a good thing going there. They do a fantastic job. And they showed a lot of class doing it."

On Friday, it was both sides of the ball for Mitchell County doing a fantastic job, including quarterback Jesse Atkins, who rushed for 126 yards and a score, and caught a TD from backup QB Cedrick Spooner, who rotates with another QB, Derrick Davis.

And Pelham faced the three-headed monster all night.

Spooner also threw another TD to Georgia commit Justin Scott-Wesley from five yards out, and Davis tossed a TD to Jay Jenkins from 15 yards out.

Of course, who could forget the Eagles' dynamite running back, Modzelle Atkins? He may have only totaled 57 yards Friday, but scored twice on touchdown runs of 5 and 2 yards.

Then came the Mitchell defense, which was led by Jontae Moore, who recovered a fumble and returned it 15 yards for a TD, and had eight tackles, two of them solo. Jequan Williams also added an interception of Pelham QB Morrell and returned it for a TD from 25 yards out.

It wasn't very pretty for Pelham, which will end the season without a victory if it can't beat Calhoun County next week.

Pelham remains winless on the season after having to forfeit two victories earlier this year for using an ineligible player. And the Hornets haven't been the same since.

Coach Morrell self-reported the violations to the GHSA, and in doing so, the Hornets were forced to vacate wins against Baconton Charter and Stewart County. Since then -- in their last five games, including Friday's loss -- they have been outscored 167-61.

Jim Morrell, meanwhile, says he won't feel sorry for himself, and neither will his players. All the Hornets (0-9, 0-6 in 1-A) can do is go into the final game of the season next week in Edison with their heads held high as they try to end their 2010 campaign on a positive note.

"We'll go to Calhoun County, try to get a win for these seniors and hope we end this losing streak and make this final game the beginning of a winning streak heading into next year," the coach said.

Mitchell County (8-1, 6-0 in 1-A) won't have an easy task in its final game either as it hosts playoff-bound Terrell County, which routed Stewart County, 48-0, on Friday, although no final stats were available from that game. Terrell led the game 48-0 at halftime and never looked back.

But will the Eagles let up and rest their starters against the Greenwave for the playoffs since they already have a No. 1 seed and home field locked up?

"No way," Pinkins said. "We're coming full force."

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WESTWOOD GETS A BREAK -- BUT DO THEY WANT IT?:

Westwood is off for the final week of the regular season, but that's not necessarily a good thing.

"That can be good or bad," Westwood coach Ross Worsham said. "If you're on a roll, you probably want to keep playing. We've played 10 games in a row. We need a little rest."

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EAGLES CAN'T RUN DOWN WESTWOOD:

Terrell Academy's ball-control offense nearly worked to perfection Friday. The Eagles almost doubled Westwood in time of possession, holding the ball for close to 32 minutes. Westwood had the ball for just 16:21, but came away with a region title clinching 24-14 win.

The Eagles' 19-play drive in the third quarter lasted 10:12 and resulted in a fourth-down scoring pass to Chandler Freeman that made the game a one-score contest.

"We were afraid of that ball-control offense, that they'd run the clock and they did," Worsham said. "They kept it away from us."

John Vereen's 70-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter had Terrell Academy fans up in arms, but it was the correct call. Terrell's cornerback bit on a hitch-and-go and bumped into Vereen as he ran by, causing the defender to fall. Vereen was wide open on the play and waltzed into the end zone, while the defensive back in coverage was flagged for pass interference because he impeded on the receiver's route.

"I thought they were going to call the flag on me," Vereen said afterward. "I figured it wouldn't hurt to run (for the score)."

The Eagles face Randolph Southern in the final week of the regular season with the No. 2 seed in GISA Region 2-A up for grabs. Terrell Academy head coach Bill Murdock said he expects to have leading rusher Todd Beaver, who missed Friday's game with strep throat, back in time to face the Patriots.

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RANDOLPH-CLAY ROUTS CALHOUN COUNTY TO IMPROVE TO 6-3, BUT WILL STILL MISS PLAYOFFS:

The Red Devils got 19 carries, 140 yards rushing and four touchdowns from Cardaryle Curry on Friday, and another 180 yards on 13 carries from workhouse Johnny Foster, while teammates Tavaris Johnson and Jameel Whitaker also scored in a ground-and-pound rushing attack that had the Cougars hurting all night. Randolph's Alkwan Sullivan added an interception for the Red Devils' defense.

The bad news for both teams, though?

Neither will make the playoffs this season.

"I think we need someone to come up with an ineligible player at this point," Randolph-Clay head coach Daniel McFather half-joked. "All we can do is close out strong with Seminole County next week."

Calhoun fell to 2-7 overall and 1-5 in Region 1-AA, while Randolph-Clay improved to 6-3 overall and 3-3 in region, but that record is still not good enough to make it in the postseason in what's been a brutal 1-A division this season.

"I think we can tie for fourth, but then we lose the head-to-head because we lost to Miller, Mitchell and Terrell, (which are the top three teams) right now," McFather said. "We needed Mitchell or Terrell to lose Friday night, and they took care of business."

Calhoun's lone TD was scored by Quan Foster from six yards out in the first half, but offense was hard to come by for the Cougars, who simply just want to close out 2010 on a positive note at this point, said Cougars coach John Williams on Saturday.

"That's the main thing right now I told the kids (Friday night)," Williams said. "We've only got four seniors, so we're going to have to have these 8th-graders start stepping up earlier than we expected. And we want to set a good example for them in our final game going into next year."

Calhoun closes out the season against Pelham at home.

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CAIRO VS. AMERICUS TITLE SHOWDOWN ... WHO YA GOT?:

Westover head coach Octavia Jones has played both Americus-Sumter and Cairo already this year. The two teams will meet for the region championship next week in Americus.

Having seen both, who does Jones like?

"Cairo," he said without hesitation after Thursday's 24-10 loss to Americus. "Cairo is the class of AAA hands down. We knew that the region championship is always going to go through Cairo. You want to be recognized as an elite team in this state, you've got to make that shift over from Cairo to Albany."

That's not to slight Americus, though. The Patriots lost to the Panthers on Thursday night in a game where Americus was without several starters and defensive coordinator George Dean. Cairo clocked Westover the week before, 45-0, in a game where the Patriots outplayed Cairo in the first quarter before miscues and the Syrupmakers' athleticism did them in.

Still, Cairo will be the favorite Friday in Americus. Americus-Sumter head coach Michael Pollock believed they would be the region favorite to start the season and he was right.

"I ranked them No. 1 in the state in the preseason," Pollock said. "They've shown they're a Top 5 team."

Americus-Sumter has wrapped up a home game in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs. They'll be matched with the No. 3 or 4 seed from Region 3-AAA, which could be any number of teams -- likely either Richmond Academy, Grovetown or Washington County.

Westover, meanwhile, is eliminated from the state playoffs, but still has much to play for. Having beaten Albany and Dougherty, the Patriots can finish with three wins, all against city teams, by beating Monroe on Friday to win the city championship.

"I've got some friends (at Monroe) and it's a city rivalry," Pats junior receiver Kenneth Towns said. "We want to win it."

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LEE STAR WR TERRELL INJURED VS. BAINBRIDGE:

Lee County is headed for the playoffs, but the Trojans aren't sure if one of their star receivers will be able to play. James Terrell, who had two TD receptions in Lee's 28-27 playoff-clinching win against Bainbridge on Friday, suffered a collarbone injury while blocking on the final drive of the night.

"He's going to have it checked out the first thing Monday morning," Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio said Saturday. "We don't know how bad it is. We're hoping it's only a bruise. Obviously, if it's broken then he is finished for the season. He's had a tremendous year for us.''

Fabrizio said he didn't have any time to celebrate the win against Bainbridge, which lifted Lee into the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

"It's a long ride back home from Bainbridge, so we didn't have any time for that (celebrating)," Fabrizio said. 'We got back home about 1 a.m., and I got up early Saturday morning and started getting ready for Warner Robins. We play them on Thursday in our final game.''

The coach might not have celebrated, but his players had a pretty good time on the bus ride back to Leesburg.

"They were really excited about winning the game and going to the playoffs,'' Fabrizio said. "There was a lot of excitement on the bus, and a lot of singing. They were singing a lot of songs I don't know. Surprisingly, they were pretty good. I don't think they're ready for a record deal or anything just yet, but they sounded pretty good.''

Lee County (7-2) will have a short week before playing the final regular-season game against Warner Robins on Thursday, but it could be a big advantage. The Trojans have all but wrapped up the third seed in the region, which means they will play the No. 2 team from Region 3-AAAA. Starr's Mill (9-0) plays at Griffin (9-0) on Friday to decide the 3-AAAA title, and Lee County will play the loser. The rare Thursday night game will give Fabrizio and his coaching staff the chance to go to Griffin and scout that game, because they will meet the loser the next Friday on the road in the first round of the playoffs.

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CAN YOU 'HEARD' ME NOW?:

Deerfield-Windsor's Quinten Heard made one of the biggest defensive plays of the night, but admitted later he didn't even know how the play ended. Heard, who had a big night on both sides of the ball in DWS' 21-7 win against Westfield on Friday, had a couple of sacks, and two more plays in which he slammed into Westfield QB Wesley Rust and didn't get a sack during plays that ended up being even bigger.

The second hit on Rust came in the third quarter with DWS leading, 17-0. Heard stormed into Westfield's backfield and hit Rust so hard the ball went flying out of his hands. It bounced from the 14 yard line all the way into the end zone, where Rhett Cooper, Jordan Funderburk and Matt Miller led the charge of DWS defenders who made the tackle in the end zone for the first of two safeties against Westfield.

"When I hit him, he spun around and the ball went loose,'' Heard said. "But I didn't even know we got a safety. I just remember hitting him. I found out later we got the safety.''

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BREAKING DOWN SHERWOOD PLAYOFF SCENARIO:

Sherwood has the edge in the ultimate tiebreaker in the Region 2-AAA race for the playoffs because of a defense that didn't allow a single first-half point against either Bulloch or Trinity.

Confused?

Don't be. The Eagles are 5-2 in the region race, and even if they lose their final regular-season game to Westfield (6-1) -- and Bulloch and Trinity win their final games -- SCA would be in no worse than a three-way tie for third place with Bulloch and Trinity at 5-3.

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and SCA beat Trinity, 7-6, and lost to Bulloch, which lost to Trinity, 21-14, so the teams would go to the second tiebreaker, which is winning percentage against common opponents. If Bulloch and Trinity win their final games, all three would have the same record (5-3) against common opponents.

The third tiebreaker, which was added before this season for a three-way tie, is points allowed against each in the first half. Sherwood did not allow Trinity or Bulloch to score in those two games, and would be the third place team in the region.

"It's a rule the heads of the school voted on before the season started,'' SCA athletic director Alan McWilliams said Saturday. "We voted for that option, and it carried. The reason for using only first half points is to promote good sportsmanship. They didn't want to see teams running up the score (to break the tiebreaker).''

If this scenario holds up, SCA would go in as the No. 3 seed from the region. The only way Sherwood could drop to the fourth seed is if the Eagles lose to Westfield and Trinity loses to Tiftarea (2-5, thend Bulloch beats winless Pinewood. In that scenario SCA and Bulloch would tie for third with 5-3 records and Trinity would be out of the playoff picture at 4-4. If that happens, Bulloch is the third seed and SCA is fourth, based on Bulloch's 2-0 victory against Sherwood.

But what's fore sure is that the Eagles are headed for the playoffs.

"It's really good for us, because we moved up from AA to AAA and there is a big difference in AAA,'' McWilliams said. "We were in AAA two years ago and we were winning one game a year. I came here in 2006 and we only won one game in 2006 and one game in 2007. There was no hope of getting to the playoffs. The idea of coming from that to having a team this year that is going to the playoffs, and expecting to get to the playoffs is a big change for us.''

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Herald sports editor Danny Aller, and staff writers Daniel Kay, Mike Phillips and Matt Stewart contributed to this report