0

Lee County remains Herald No. 1; Monroe debuts in Fab 5 Poll at No. 5

ALBANY -- New Fab 5, same old No. 1.

Lee County opened as the preseason No. 1 team in The Herald's Fab 5 poll, and is still there after the first week of play.

Lee has been there a lot longer. The Trojans moved into the No. 1 spot after opening night last year (a year ago this week), and stayed at No. 1 through the final 10 weeks of the 2010 season.

How long can Lee County stay at No. 1?

The Trojans don't play either No. 2 Westover or No. 3 Albany High, but they had an impressive 38-7 win against No. 5 Monroe in a preseason scrimmage.

This isn't the same Lee County team from a year ago. The Trojans lost more talent than any team in the area, but that lop-sided scrimmage win against Monroe proved there's enough back this year to make another run at the playoffs, and as long as the Trojans stay unbeaten they will be at the top of the poll.

The big question last week was how would Westover and Albany High, two programs that are on the rise, handle the pressure of being ranked in the Fab 5 poll.

Just ask Mitchell County and Dougherty.

Westover had its most impressive win in years, beating Mitchell, which opened the season ranked No. 5 in the poll, 42-7. Westover has come a long way in just one year under Octavia Jones, and the second year coach expects more of the same.

"I told them before the game that if they didn't score 40 points that I will be disappointed,'' Jones said after the win.

Westover is going to live and die right up front, because the Patriots are big and talented on the offensive and defensive lines. Teams are going to have a problem running against Westover and Dynamite Dozen defensive tackle Chris Green, and they will also have trouble stopping the run. Dalviness Green rushed for 95 yards in the first quarter and finished with 202 yards and two TDs against Mitchell.

"We want to control the ball and control the line of scrimmage,'' Jones said. "We believe our strength is in our offensive line and our defense.''

Albany High looked just as powerful -- maybe more so -- in a 39-7 opening night against city rival Dougherty. The Indians led 32-0 at halftime. The magic number in the first half was 4. Albany High quarterback Emmanul Byrd threw four TD passes in the first half while Albany's defense held Dougherty to just four yards of offense.

Albany High's defense made six sacks and had eight other plays for either no gain or a loss, and shut Dougherty out all night until Alfred Brown scored on a 26-yard run with 28 seconds left against the backups.

It's never too early for a big showdown, and when Westover and Albany High meet Saturday night at Hugh Mills Stadium it could ultimately decide the city title. No one is counting out Monroe, or a resurgence from Dougherty, but Saturday's matchup will definitely shake up the Fab 5.

"This game is going to come down to whoever controls the line of scrimmage,'' said Albany coach Felton Williams, who feels his offensive and defensive lines are pretty strong, too.

Both lines are anchored by Roscoe Byrd and Jontavious Morris, two Dynamite Dozen players who play both ways and also share co-captain duties for the team.

Seminole County stays at No. 4 this week because the Indians, who were short of players, played a classic game before suffering a bitter, 43-40, loss to fifth-ranked Wesleyan, which scored on a 60-yard screen pass with 1:30 left in the game.

Monroe moves up replacing Mitchell County at No. 5. The Tornadoes looked like a top 5 team in beating Terrell County, 26-0, and sophomore QB Charles Stafford looked like the real deal, throwing for 239 yards and three TDs.