Herald High School Beat Writer Mike Phillips
OK, there are plenty of slam dunk picks this week (see Seminole County vs. Stewart County), but there are also some coin flip games.
Let's look at some must-win games:
You have to admire the attitude and confidence they have at Westover. The Patriots won't be able to celebrate homecoming unless they bring home a win tonight.
That's the plan after a no-frills, nothing-but-football week leading up to tonight's game against Crisp County. The Patriots need this one, and they have to win it to have any chance of winning the Region 1-AAA title.
Crisp County is unbeaten (2-0) in the region race, and this should be a classic because the Cougars like to throw the ball, and Westover likes to stop the pass.
The Cougars have receiver Jontavious Carter, who has already committed to the University of Miami, as a target. But QB Trevor Shealy also has the Whitman brothers, Luke and Landon, who both can go get the ball, especially Landon, a senior, who is the most physical target Shealy throws to.
But Westover has allowed only two passing touchdowns all season. The first came on the opening series of the season against Mitchell County, and the second came two weeks ago against Worth County when Savon Farley threw a 21-yard TD pass to Kareem McDanial with 26 seconds left in the half.
Westover allowed just 75 yards in the air all night in the 23-18 loss to Worth. Mitchell threw for 119 yards in a 42-7 loss (most of it after Westover had built a big lead). Those are the only two teams that have been able to throw the ball with any success against the Patriots this season.
Here are the numbers that might just define this game: Westover has had 11 interceptions in six games, and returned three for touchdowns, and the Patriots have also had 14 sacks this season.
Do the math.
These kids don't give up much in the air. This defense hasn't given up much all year, and is probably underrated as a unit. Don't underestimate them. Chris Green is a monster at defensive tackle, and Don Mills, a junior, is about as good as it gets at linebacker. The group as a whole is on a mission.
They're still upset about the loss to Worth County, and in the end, Westover's defense will be the biggest factor in tonight's game.
That's why I'm picking the Patriots, who might just pitch a shutout tonight.
Prediction: Westover 14, Crisp County 0.
WATCH OUT FOR THE GREENWAVE: Speaking of underrated. That's how I feel about Terrell County's Greenwave. Forget the 2-5 record, the Greenwave are a lot better than that record, and the only record that counts is the one in Region 1-A. The Greenwave are 2-2, and meet a much-improved Pelham team tonight in Pelham in one of the biggest games of the week. The Hornets have found new life with first-year coach Frankie Carroll, and are 3-2 in the Region 1-A race.
One of these teams is going to the playoffs, and tonight's game might ultimately decide which one grabs the fourth spot in this race. Seminole and Mitchell will get the top two spots, and Calhoun is in the driver's seat for the third spot.
Miller County has a chance, but must beat Calhoun County tonight (more on that in a minute).
This one between Terrell County and Pelham is a coin toss.
I'm leaning toward the kids from Dawson. They played a brutal non-region schedule and have stayed in the hunt with big wins against Miller (20-19) and Randolph-Clay (30-6 last week) to put themselves in a spot to make a playoff run.
Prediction: Terrell County 21, Pelham 20.
COUGARS ON THE PROWL: Now, let's talk about Calhoun County, the surprise team in Region 1-A. The Cougars are young -- real young -- which means a couple of things: They're getting a little older every week and better every week, they're starting four freshmen on the defensive line and have an offense that has been led by speedy running back Vincent Powell.
Miller has had problems scoring all year, and this could be a low-scoring game. It's homecoming at Calhoun and that might make it that much tougher on the Pirates, who know just how big this game is. It's a big game in Miller's season, but it stacks up to be a bigger game in Edison, where there is even more young talent on the way from a talented eighth-grade class and more freshmen who are on the JV team this year. The Cougars could be on their way to a long run of success, and a berth in the playoffs this season will ignite that run.
Gotta go with Calhoun.
Prediction: Calhoun 28, Miller 24.
LIGHTS OUT FOR LEE?: Talk about must-win games. Take a look at Lee County at Hardaway. The Trojans are coming off a couple of tough losses, a close call against Northside, Columbus and a lopsided loss to No. 2 ranked Northside, Warner Robins.
They're celebrating in Leesburg this week because the middle school won the championship that includes all the Albany schools, and they're going to have a nice bus ride home from Hardaway tonight, because Lee gets a big Region 1-AAAA win to improve to 2-2 in the region.
Prediction: Lee County 24, Hardaway 7.
GISA GAMES: In the GISA, there's a lot of one-sided games tonight. Deerfield should have an easy time with Trinity Christian at home. The Knights can pick the score in this one. But Westwood's Wildcats, who have an easy time with everyone, will face their biggest test in the region when they travel to play Windsor. This is a game Westwood will have to play at its best to win.
Prediction: Deerfield 55, Trinity 7.
Prediction: Westwood 45, Windsor 28.
BEST OF THE REST: Here's the rest of tonight's scores.
Americus-Sumter 28, Dougherty 14
Mitchell County 35, Randolph-Clay 21
Seminole 80, Stewart County 0
Pinewood 21, Sherwood 14
Southland 28, Terrell Academy 21
Early County 21, Berrien 0
Cairo 28, Worth County 21
Bainbridge 35, Houston County 7