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HERALD PREP FOOTBALL PEEK: Top 4 teams stay put; Worth County debuts at No. 5

Worth County star DB Lavontae Robinson (7), seen here returning an interception against Americus-Sumter two weeks ago, is one of the big reasons the Rams popped into The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll this week at No. 5 for the first time this year. Robinson leads the Rams with five picks. (joebellacomo@albanyherald.com)

Worth County star DB Lavontae Robinson (7), seen here returning an interception against Americus-Sumter two weeks ago, is one of the big reasons the Rams popped into The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll this week at No. 5 for the first time this year. Robinson leads the Rams with five picks. (joebellacomo@albanyherald.com)

The Worth County Rams broke into The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll this week for the first time this season, marking the only change in the Top 5 heading into Week 8.

But coach Scotty Ward said Monday he understands that as quickly as his team broke in, it could be in danger of dropping right back out if it doesn’t hold serve Friday at home against a dangerous Monroe squad.

“(That game) ain’t gonna be no pushover, that’s for sure,” said Ward, whose team is just 3-3, but has had huge wins in two of the last three weeks — Sept. 16 against Class AAAAA Tift County and last Thursday on the road in Albany against Westover — to earn a Top 5 nod this week. “We went and watched (Monroe last Friday) against Americus and they’re big and athletic. We need to be ready.”

Ward added that he hoped being included in the poll for the first time this year will be extra motivation to beat Monroe to ensure that the Rams stay there.

“If it’s not, I’ll make it a point that it should be this week at practice when I tell my guys,” he said. “It’s something that I think will be important to them. We talked about it a lot last year (trying to get ranked), as well as this year. We’re glad to be included.”

Nos. 1-4, meanwhile, remain unchanged after all of The Herald’s Top 4 — No. 1 Seminole, No. 2 Lee County, No. 3 Bainbridge and No. 4 Americus-Sumter — won last week.

Seminole defended its first week at No. 1 with a rout of Mitchell; Lee hung on to beat Houston County in OT; Bainbridge blanked Hardaway, 35-0, for its first shutout in four years; and Americus-Sumter snuck by Monroe, 6-0, thanks to its defense causing six turnovers.


NEW HERALD FAB 5 POLL:

1. Seminole Co.....(5-1) Will anyone left on the Indians’ regular-season schedule beat them? Right now, this high-powered offense — which is averaging 46.3 points a game — looks totally unstoppable. Next: Friday at Pelham, 7:30 p.m.

2. Lee County....... (4-1)

Lee struggled with winless Houston last Friday before winning in overtime, and now face the powerhouse of 1-AAAA. Next: Friday at Northside, Warner Robins, 7:30 p.m.

3. Bainbridge......................... (4-1)

The Bearcats can move to 2-1 in a tough 1-AAAA if they hold serve at home. Next: Friday vs. Northside, Col., 7:30 p.m.

4. Americus-Sumter...............(4-2)

The Panthers join Cairo as the only 2-0 teams in a stacked Region 1-AAA race — but face another unbeaten Friday when they travel to Cordele. Next: Friday at Crisp County, 7:30 p.m.

5. Worth County ......... (3-3)

The Rams break into the poll after a tough three weeks that saw them beat Westover, Class AAAAA Tift and narrowly lose to Americus. Next: Friday vs. Monroe, 7:30 p.m.

Teams eligible for poll: Albany, Monroe, Dougherty, Westover, Sherwood Christian Academy, Deerfield-Windsor, Terrell County, Terrell Academy, Pelham, Westwood, Mitchell County, Miller County, Bainbridge, Seminole County, Early County, Randolph-Clay, Randolph Southern, Southwest Georgia Academy, Southland, Americus-Sumter, Lee County, Worth County, Calhoun County.

Poll voted on by Herald sports staff; new poll released every Tuesday


HERALD HEISMAN WATCH:

(The Top 5 performers from last Friday who are making an early case for Player of the Year)

DON BOLDEN, RB, RANDOLPH-CLAY: Rushed for a Southwest Georgia-best so far this 2011 season of 293 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-18 win vs. Stewart. Bolden, just a sophomore, has now rushed for a staggering 971 yards in five games for the Red Devils, including 255 vs. Baconton, 193 vs. Albany and 130 against Pelham.

JOSH WARDRIP, RB, TERRELL ACADEMY: Scored three rushing touchdowns — of 14, 30 and 50 yards — during Friday’s 45-14 win against Fullington Academy. Wardrip leads the Eagles with 10 scores this season.

EMMANUL BYRD, QB, ALBANY: Threw for 220 yards on 13-for-19 passing with 3 TDs, and also ran for a team-high 62 yards in a 42-7 win last week vs. Berrien. It was also Byrd’s third game this year with multiple TD passes.

CHRIS BROWN, DB, SEMINOLE COUNTY: Scored four touchdowns — all rushing — in Seminole’s huge 49-21 win against region 1-A rival Mitchell County, finishing with 174 yards on 17 carries.

MARVIN GRANT, RB, MILLER COUNTY: Rushed for a career-high 234 yards and two touchdowns last Friday during a much-needed Region 1-A victory against Pelham, which also marked the Pirates’ first win of the season.

JOSH CABRERA, WR, LEE COUNTY: Had 9 catches for 114 yards and 2 TDs on Friday — including the game winner in OT vs. Houston County. Has 33 receptions for 405 yards and 6 TDs on year, leading all of Region 1-AAAA.


DYNAMITE DOZEN DROP-IN:

A look at the highlighted Herald Dynamite Dozen player of the week:

WHO: Thomas Wright, Sr., LB/FB, Lee County

WHY: Wright, normally just used on defense, saw his first offensive action last Friday vs. Houston — and boy, did he make it count. He ran for 34 yards on a fake punt, then punched in a TD from 3 yards out and later ran for a 2-point conversion. He also had 1.5 sacks and 12 tackles in the win.


BY THE NUMBERS:

4:

Number of years it had been since Bainbridge shut an opponent out before last Friday’s 35-0 home win against Region 1-AAAA foe Hardaway.

10:

Total number of points that Westover (3-3) has lost its three games by this season: 23-20 vs. Bainbridge (3 OT); 21-19 vs. Early County; and 23-18 vs. Worth County.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“That was as back-and-forth as it gets. It was probably a great game to watch if you’re a spectator, but it was a tough one to coach in.”

Dean Fabrizio,Lee coach on his team’s 34-31 OT win Friday vs. Houston County


WEEK 8 AREA PREP FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:

Thursday’s games

(All games 7:30 p.m. unless noted)

Albany at Thomasville

Stewart County at Baconton

Friday’s games

Monroe at Worth county

Cairo at Dougherty

Lee County at Northside, Warner Robins

Deerfield at Pinewood

Miller County at Michell County

Randolph Southern at Westwood

Seminole County at Pelham

Northside, Columbus at Bainbridge

Fitzgerald at Early County

SGA at Arlington Christian

Randolph-Clay at Terrell County

Calhoun County at Jeff Davis

Dawson Street at Terrell Academy

Sherwood at Bulloch

Americus-Sumter at Crisp County

Westfield at Southland