PREP FOOTBALL PREDICTION COLUMN: Gotta love the Westwood Wonders

Herald high school beat writer Mike Phillips

Herald high school beat writer Mike Phillips

It's still a mystery, and we've done everything to solve it.

The Herald even went to the trouble (and enormous expense) to send a team of specialists to Camilla this week. They looked everywhere.

Looked all over the school, checked the lockers, the desks, the cafeteria and even scoured the parking lot.

Even with the most modern technology and equipment with names longer than anyone would care to pronounce, they simply couldn't pinpoint it. Just couldn't seem to find it anywhere. I heard some of the crew even tried to Google it, but with no luck.

They were looking for the magic.

You know, that magic that shows up every Friday night when Westwood's football team walks onto the field.

We know it's there.

We probably should have sent a cardiologist or heart surgeon, because the guess here is that's where this stuff lives -- right there in the heart of group of kids who simply play bigger and better when it counts the most.

There's not another team in Southwest Georgia, and probably throughout the Peach State, that has had the start (well, the finish) the Wildcats have had. Three games, and three breathtaking endings -- all against bigger schools.

"When you fight like our kids fight, anything can happen,'' said Westwood coach Ross Worsham after last week's nailbiting, 10-7, win against Sherwood when the Eagles missed a field goal with :05 seconds on the clock.

Yes, anything.

Down 17-6 against AAA Tiftarea, the Westwood Wonders drove twice down the stretch and Ross Worsham hit John Vereen with a 7-yard TD pass with 24 seconds left to win 20-17 in Week 2.

This is Westwood, where the kids were beat in the opener against a Southwest Georgia Academy team that is probably going to win the Region 2-AA title, but found a way to win. It took a couple of TD throws from Worsham to Vereen to keep it close, and finally a 27-yard field goal from Jake Edore, who won it, 19-18, with 1:20 left in the game.

That's Jake Edore, not J.T. Edore -- a couple of blue-collar running backs who both run the ball with more guts than glory, more heart than hype. The kind of kids coaches dream about coaching. Westwood's loaded with kids just like that.

Now they're 3-0 with a start for the ages, the kind these kids will be talking about 20 years from now. Some won't believe the story. But it's all true.

Is it any wonder that Westwood's Wonders are the No. 1 ranked team in the GISA state Class A poll? Who else could possibly be there?

Go ahead and exhale, Westwood.

Breathe in and out, and enjoy every minute of this wonderful, magical ride, because the magic is in you and the way you play the game: with passion and promise and hope, and a belief that few of us ever really understand.

This is no Cinderella story. This is not David and Goliath.

Cliche's don't fit here.

No, this is real, all too real. Just like the magic, the stuff that lives and breathes deep inside every one of these kids, the ones who have written the best start of the year. The Wonders of Westwood.

Now for a few predictions: Guess who I'm taking in the Westwood-Flint Academy game? Duh.

Enjoy being 4-0 Westwood.

PREDICTION: Westwood 24, Flint 7.



Our Herald Game of the Week is in Cuthbert and is the toughest pick of the week. They're running wild at Randolph-Clay and Johnny Foster and Cardaryle Curry are having fun ripping through the holes on their line, nicknamed "The Swamp" (you gotta love that). They'll both find the end zone against the best Albany High team in years, but it might not be enough. Look for QB Emmanul Byrd to have a big night and Roy Jones, who is coming home to his native Randolph County, will have his moments. If towering Albany tight end Jibri Jimerson was in your high school fantasy football league, you would want to start him this week.

PREDICTION: Randolph-Clay 28, Albany 27.



Monroe hits the road against Brooks County, and it will be a nice ride home. The Tornadoes look better every week -- no matter who is at quarterback -- and Johntavious Strum is dangerous on both sides of the ball.

PREDICTION: Monroe 42, Brooks 7.



If you like pick 'ems, take a look at the Westover-Early game. Westover can't get a break (see GHSA), and Early can't get a win. But there's not a better 0-3 team in SW Georgia than the Bobcats. You've got to lean toward Westover in this one. Dalviness "Deion" Greene, a sophomore who runs like he's been doing this for years, is the future for the Patriots. My guess is Westover goes back to the future tonight.

PREDICTION: Westover 21, Early 14.



Westwood isn't the only area No. 1 team in the state. Deerfield-Windsor is ranked No. 1 in the GISA Class AAA poll. The Knights have already knocked off Sherwood and Bethesda Day, a couple of Region 2-AAA teams that are bigger and faster than DWS, but simply not as good on the field. DWS gets another stiff test this week on the road to Statesboro to meet unbeaten Bulloch. Spend five minutes around the DWS kids, and you'll know why I never pick against them. From Banks Kinslow to Davis Moore to Quentin Heard to every member of the DWS line that simply out-works and out-plays every team that lines up against it.

PREDICTION: DWS 28, Bulloch 14.



Looks like that glowing report I wrote about Sherwood at the beginning of the year when I said the Eagles would play for the state title has been a little damaged along the way. I still think this is a playoff team, but they better start winning. If they lose to Bethesda Day, the Eagles will drop to 0-2 in the Region 2-AAA race and 1-3 overall. I wouldn't say they are desperate for a win, but a win tonight would go a long way at Sherwood. Good luck. The feeling here is that Bethesda Day might just pull this one out.

PREDICTION: Bethesda Day 28, Sherwood 24.