Herald High School Beat Writer Mike Phillips
Westover vs. Cairo.
This isn't David against Goliath. This is David vs. Goliath, and Goliath is on a four-decade winning streak.
OK, it's not that bad.
But if you believe in all that tradition and history and passing the torch stuff that makes sports so much fun to watch, then Cairo will be living in the end zone tonight when the Syrupmakers come to Hugh Mills Stadium for a game that might turn Westover's season and program around.
Yep, I said program.
Forget turning it around. Westover's Patriots can do a somersault with a win against the dynasty. I know there are people in Southwest Georgia who will not believe it if Westover beats Cairo. There are even people -- a lot of people -- in Albany who won't believe it.
They'll be talking about this one all over Georgia if Westover wins.
Now listen closely.
There's not a program in Georgia that I respect more than Cairo's, but I saw Villanova beat Georgetown. Sometimes there's magic. Sometimes there's luck.
And sometimes that underdog team is just a whole lot better than anyone thinks.
With any luck the Patriots could be unbeaten right now and ranked in the Top 10 in the Class AAA state poll. They've lost three games by 10 points, but those games were a lot closer than that.
Cairo (5-2, 3-0 in Region 1-AAA) has lost twice by six points. The Syrupmakers could be unbeaten, too.
Look, I believe in tradition and history and passing the torch, and that's why Cairo, which has another talented team, is a big favorite.
But there's no way I'm not picking Westover to win this game.
The Patriots' defense is going to have to score, and Dalviness Greene is going to need a big game -- which means the Westover offensive line is going to need to play the game of its life.
Cairo is fast everywhere you look, and plays the game with as much intensity as any team in Georgia. Linebacker Terrell Cason was the Defensive Player of the Year in Region 1-AAA last year, and the word is Tim Gurley, who plays receiver and defensive back, is headed to play for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina.
Cairo is loaded -- and I'm not talking about tradition. I'm talking about 2011 players, right now loaded.
But if Westover, which can line up with any team in the region, can put together a gameplan to beat Cairo, the Patriots will win their last two games and win the Region 1-AAA title -- the first region title in the school's history.
Now that's really history. And tradition? Well, maybe it's time to start a brand new one at Westover.
I'm taking the Pats.
PREDICTION: Westover 20, Cairo 17.
EXTRA CRISPY?: It may not be as monumental for Monroe to beat Crisp County tonight, but don't tell the Tornadoes. They want a piece of the Region 1-AAA title, too -- or at least a ticket to the playoffs. Monroe had a huge win two weeks ago against Worth County, which looked like it turned the season around for the tough-luck Nadas.
We'll see tonight when Monroe travels to Cordele to play a Crisp team (2-1 in Region 1-AAA) that was unbeaten in the region until Westover beat the Cougars, 20-6, last week.
Monroe (1-2 in the region) needs three region wins to get to the playoffs, and with only two games left after tonight. Charles Truitt's kids know just how important getting that second region win is for their postseason hopes.
I saw the light in the eyes of the Monroe kids the night they beat Worth and my guess is that light will be there tonight in Cordele. It's bright and burning -- and it can all the way into the playoffs.
PREDICTION: Monroe 14, Crisp County 8.
EASIEST PICKS OF THE WEEK: Deerfield beating Tiftarea by a ton, and Westwood toppling Crisp Academy. Pick your own score. These GISA powers are off and running toward defending their state titles. The real party starts in the playoffs in three weeks.
MOST INTERESTING MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: That's Kevin Prisant's Heritage team playing SGA this week. Prisant is graduate of Deerfield-Windsor and he's done a great job at Heritage, which enters the game 6-1. Welcome back to Southwest Georgia, Kevin. Everyone knows I love Deerfield, but I gotta take SGA.
PREDICTION: SGA 21, Heritage 14.
UPSET OF THE WEEK: Albany High beating state-ranked Brooks County on the road. Ya gotta believe! And I always believe in the Indians.
PREDICTION: Albany High 21, Brooks County 20.
CLASSIC SHOWDOWN OF THE WEEK: That's Mitchell County and Calhoun County in Camilla on Saturday night. Mitchell gets the edge, but Calhoun County's Cougars will make life tough for the Eagles -- just like they make life tough for every team they play.
BEST OF THE REST:
Thomas County Central 28, Lee County 14
Miller County 28, Randolph-Clay 21
Bainbridge 20, Warner Robins 10
Windsor 28, Terrell Academy 14
Southland 28, Sherwood 14
Jeff Davis 35, Baconton Charter 14
Cook 14, Early County 7