Herald High School Writer Mike Phillips
Is it that time again, already?
Well here goes with the season's first high school football prediction column. It's cold turkey, no scrimmage or exhibitions to get ready, just shooting from the hip.
Looking for the biggest winner on tonight?
Honest. The church is releasing another movie and the debut is tonight in Atlanta. That's why the Eagles and Deerfield played last week. Both teams are off this week.
Sherwood didn't want the football game to conflict with the movie debut, and Deerfield agreed to play a week early and then have an off week.
Can you say Good Samaritan?
Don't let SCA's 0-1 record bother you, Sherwood fans. The Eagles had to open their season against the defending state champs. The guess here is they rally and put together a good year and land in the playoffs.
Give new coach Otis Covington some time to rebuild a team that is down in numbers. There are only 25 kids on the roster, including eight who just joined the team. If you're a Sherwood fan, you gotta love Mack Green. They call him M.J., but he would leave Michael Jordan in the dust in a foot race. Hey, I'm just sayin'.
Game of the week? It has to be Westover at Mitchell tonight as two of The Herald's top five teams to start the year in our Fab 5 Poll meet to open the season. But is that game as big as Albany High and Dougherty on Saturday night at Hugh Mills? That matchup last year came down to a last-second field goal -- well, actually two field-goal attempts.
That's when Albany High's Daniel Casteneda missed a game winner, then -- after a Dougherty penalty gave the Indians new life -- made a field goal at the gun to lift Albany High to a 16-14 win.
Both teams are much better, but if I have to pick someone, I'm going with Albany High, where the Indians will take the first step toward a memorable season against their city rivals.
PREDICTION: Albany High 21, Dougherty 14.
HERE'S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How good is Westover?
Seriously, can the Patriots make this a breakout season? We'll find out right away. Like, tonight.
Better take some radar guns with you to Camilla if you're going to watch this game. 'Cause the Eagles are that fast.
They're not talking about dresses this year at Mitchell County, where a year ago coach Dondrial Pinkins promised to wear a dress and walk through downtown Camilla if the team didn't win three games, and then later -- after they started 3-1 -- promised his kids he would wear that same "blue dress and heels" if the Eagles won the state title.
I like Pinkins' style, and I like his teams -- fast and furious. He changed his name on his Twitter to "Mr. Get 6" because as Pinkins says, "I want six points every time we touch the ball.''
He's got six kids who can fly. Call 'em "Pinkins' Pick 6," and he's got Freddy Pate, who is starting his fourth year at center. Nobody ever realizes how important the center is on a team until one of two things happen.
1) You don't have a good one.
2) You have a really good one.
Pate is at the top of the class. He's in charge on Mitchell's offensive line, and the kids love him. So does Pinkins.
We put Mitchell at No. 5 in The Herald poll to begin the season, and we think the Eagles will make a deep run in the Class A state playoffs. Westover starts the season at No. 2. (that's right, No. 2). The Patriots deserve it. They won the city title last year, and bring back enough talent to make the Class AAA state playoffs.
I'm not picking them to win Region 1-AAA because Cairo may be the best Class AAA team in the state (I'm just sayin') ... But the folks in Northwest Albany need to start paying attention to the football program at Westover. It's not only better than you think, but it gets better every day. What's better than that?
The guess here is that Westover's offense make a big jump from last year, and that the Patriots defense will be as tough as any in the area. Like I said, they will find out tonight against some high-flying Eagles.
If you're looking for a prediction, I have to take Westover.
PREDICTION: Westover 21, Mitchell County 20.
BEST OF THE REST: Mitchell's Eagles may want to take a look at what's going on just south of them, where their two biggest region rivals are opening against state-ranked teams. Miller faces sixth-ranked Wilcox, and Seminole faces fifth-ranked Wesleyan.
Miller will have to play without its best player, Dynamite Dozen pick T.T. Barber, who plays quarterback and linebacker. He's out with a concussion, but is expected to be back by next week. The Pirates are going to be in the heat of the Region 1-A race.
Seminole and Wesleyan?
You know me, I'm taking an upset here. Seminole tied Wilcox, 28-28, in a scrimmage last week, and can make a name for itself around the state with a win tonight.
Seminole coach Alan Ingram jokes about his "Magnificent 7'' -- seven stars that include Dynamite Dozen pick Chris Brown, who will rush for 1,500 yards this season (just sayin'), and cornerback Dee Virgin, who Ingram believes is as good as any corner in the state.
That "Magnificent 7" reference comes from an old western, and if you're not old enough to remember Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, then here's a quick version: Seven cowboys defend a village in Mexico against bad guy Eli Wallach and an army of bandidos. It's a classic.
This could be a classic year for Seminole, where Ingram's "Mag 7" are all seniors and ready to make history. They have been playing together since rec ball. Is this the most talented team in Seminole history? Stay tuned.
Here's the rest of this week's picks:
Seminole 30, Bandidos 28
Monroe 35, Terrell County 14
Lee County 50, Baconton Charter 14
Fitzgerald 21, Worth 14
Bainbridge 21, Early 7
Wilcox 28, Miller 14
Lanier 14, Calhoun 7
Americus-Sumter 28, Liberty 14
Central Fellowship 24, Randolph Southern 20
Southland 21, Brookwood 14