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HIGH SCHOOL PREDICITION COLUMN: How do you pick against Albany?

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

Making me pick the Albany High-Westover game isn't right or even fair, and if they weren't paying me such an unmentionable and obscene sum of money to do it, I would have to refuse. But someone has to pay my ex-wife's credit card bills, so I'm taking the money and making the pick.

Albany will start the season 2-0.

Westover runs the ball better than you think and Justin Taylor and Steve Bowens are going to get their yards tonight. The Patriots will get into the end zone at least twice, but it won't be enough.

The guess here is that Albany's receivers hang on to some of those passes they dropped last week. Trust me, sophomore Emmanul Byrd is going to grow up right before your eyes over the next three years.

Hang on to this kid High School Fantasy Football players (if there is such a thing). He doesn't even know how good he can be yet.

Both lines look like a mirror image of each other, so it will be close all night, and when it's close I always go with the team with the best kicking game. That edge goes to Daniel Castaneda and Albany. It was Castaneda's 32-yard field goal that beat Dougherty, 16-14, last week, and he may just have to do it again tonight.

But if Westover gets a chance to win the game with a field goal, the Patriots might be the ones dancing all over Hugh Mills tonight.

Here's what you don't know. Westover has a kicker, too. Danny Brown, who has been The Herald's Player of the Year in soccer for two years running, is playing varsity football for the first time. Brown can boot 50-yarders in practice, and Westover coach Octavia Jones says he won't hesitate to use Brown from 40-45 yards out.

It will be that close. It will be fun. It will be Albany.

PREDICTION: Albany 17, Westover 14.

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WORTH COUNTY AT TURNER COUNTY:

Easiest pick of the week?

Worth County, Worth County, Worth County.

And I'm not talking about that state powerhouse softball team either. You gotta believe in Worth, where the new slogan for the season should be "The Silence of the Rams."

Coach Scotty Ward couldn't believe how quiet his team was last week before the opener against Class AA No. 3-ranked Fitzgerald. The kids didn't say a word, then did all their talking on the field with a 32-26 double overtime win. The Purple Hurricanes' faces turned red.

The guess here is that wasn't an upset as much as it was a statement about just how talented the Rams are this year. The running game is for real: Just look at Ellis Anderson, who gained 100 yards on 16 carries and scored twice in the opener, and Jhue Rhodes, who picked up 62 yards and scored a TD.

Shhh, don't say a word, Worth. Just go out and quietly improve to 2-0 tonight with a win against Turner.

PREDICTION: Worth County 28, Turner County 7.

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CAIRO AT BAINBRIDGE:

You know how much I like Bainbridge, so here's an idea for the Bearcats. When they play Cairo every year, someone at the school should plan a pancake breakfast the week of the game. Plenty of pancakes and plenty of syrup. You get the idea.

Celebrate before you even play the Syrupmakers. Make it an annual event. Bet you raise a bunch of money, and it will add a little flavor to this ageless rivalry. Not that a 65-year-old rivalry needs much more flavor. Just

the idea of all those Bainbridge fans pouring syrup all over the place makes me smile.

Cairo is ranked No. 3 in the Class AAA poll and comes into tonight's game a big favorite, but my hunch is that Bainbridge won't fumble the ball six times (see Early County game) and that Bearcats coach Ed Pilcher will have his kids sky-high for Cairo.

Don't look for much scoring here. No one's going to score much on Bainbridge this year, and it could come down to another game-winning field goal from Keenan Adams, who beat Cairo with a 52-yarder last year. I'm taking Bainbridge, and I'll get my own pancakes at Roosters on Saturday morning.

PREDICTION: Bainbridge 10, Cairo 7.

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DOUGHERTY AT MITCHELL COUNTY:

Dougherty bounces back this week. Sorry, Mitchell County, but the guess here is that Dougherty's running game, which looked good at times in the 16-14 loss to Albany, finds the end zone at least three times and double teams Mitchell superstar Justin Scott all night to keep the score down. Ra'Shon Solomon ducked and darted his way for 101 yards against Albany last week, and Marcus Williams ran for 52 yards and a TD.

The guess here is that Dougherty breaks a few more big plays in Camilla to win this one. I still think Mitchell County has a chance to make a run at the Class A state title, and a loss won't force Mitchell coach Dondrial Pinkins to have to get out that blue and red dress he promised to wear if his team goes 2-8. They won't, coach. You're just facing a big, physical team from Dougherty that's still pretty upset about losing the opener on a last-second field goal last week.

PREDICTION: Dougherty 21, Mitchell County 14.

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CRAWFORD COUNTY AT LEE COUNTY:

Let's see, Lee County has won two games over the last two years, and will be 2-0 after tonight. Get the bandwagons ready. Look for another big night from Justin Walker. Even if tailback Denzel Eckles, who left last week's game after coughing up blood, doesn't play. There's plenty in the cupboard to beat Crawford.

PREDICTION: Lee County 35, Crawford County 6.

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TERRELL COUNTY AT SEMINOLE COUNTY:

Terrell County and Seminole gives us our best Class A matchup of the year so far. Seminole would have been favored, but the loss of tailback Chris Brown leaves an opening for the Greenwave, who can make a statement in the huge Region 1-A game tonight. I think they will. Call it Terrell County by a nose -- that's the nose on free safety Tray Stephens, who will make at least one big play and maybe more tonight.

PREDICTION: Terrell County 28, Seminole County 22

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BROOKWOOD AT SHERWOOD & STRATFORD AT DEERFIELD:

Come on, I'm sticking to the same thing I said last week. I believe Sherwood will play for the GISA Class AAA state title -- even after last week's loss to Deerfield. The Eagles won't lose another game in the regular season. But after last week, I'm convinced if Sherwood gets to the state title game, Deerfield will be there waiting.

These are easy GISA picks: Sherwood rolls past Brookwood and Deerfield romps against Stratford, which better bring a couple of bus loads of fresh troops to play against DWS' Thunder and Lightning offensive line.

PREDICTION: Sherwood 40, Brookwood 7.

PREDICTION: Deerfield 35, Stratford 14.