Westover coach Octavia Jones said his team will need to overcome Early's speed in Friday night's game in Blakely.
ALBANY -- Don Mills made a promise.
But he didn't have to. All you had to do was to look on their faces, those tear-stained, bitter faces that said it all.
So when Mills said he promised Westover would get better, the Westover linebacker was just speaking for the team, that entire group of kids that had just lost in triple overtime to Bainbridge.
That was the scene last Friday night, moments after Bainbridge beat the Patriots, 23-20, in a game that seemed as if it would never end.
But it's over, and Westover (2-1) has to move on to play Early County tonight in Blakely in The Herald's Game of the Week.
Early (1-2) has played much better than it's record. The Bobcats held Bainbridge to one TD in a 16-12 loss in the opening game of the season, and they held Miller County to a total of 34 yards of offense.
"They have a great defense,'' Westover coach Octavia Jones said this week at practice. "They've got very good team speed. They're as fast as Mitchell County.''
Overcoming Early's quickness is only part of the chore for Westover. The Patriots have to overcome last week's loss.
"I don't want to say I'm happy we lost, because no one is happy, but that loss brought us closer together, and put our eye on the prize,'' Westover fullback McKenny Martin said. "That hurt. That hurt deep. I will never forget that game.''
Mills won't forget it either. Still, he can't wait for tonight.
"I just want to hurry up and play another game,'' he said. "But (Early) has a good team. We have to make sure we're ready.''
Early is also trying to make a statement. The Bobcats have shocked some people with a young team that looks like a Class AA playoff team.
"We're just trying to get better,'' Early coach Trey Woolf said. "We start our region next week and we open with Thomasville, and they're always a power.''
Woolf knows what to expect tonight.
"There are no bells and whistles with Westover. They're big and they run the ball,'' he said. "They do it the right way. They have a big offensive line and when they get movement their running back knows how to get in the crease.''
The running back is Dalviness "Deion" Greene, who has rushed for 580 yards in three games.
It will be a classic matchup tonight between Early's shutdown defense and Greene and his offensive line.
Woolf said his entire defense has had its moments this season, then pointed to a couple of players -- "defensive lineman Clarence Taylor and linebacker Brakari Isom.''
Running back Ladonis Bryant and junior quarterback Jacori Taylor have led Early's offense.
"They play disciplined football and run the football as a team,'' Jones said. "We will have to be ready to play. It's a big game before our region starts, and we would like like to be 3-1. Being 3-1 would be big.''
Early beat Westover in Albany last year, 21-14, but Woolf remembers it was a struggle.
"We ran back a kickoff and had a couple of big plays, but they kind of controlled the game,'' he said. "They look better this year. They are real good on the both lines. It would be a big wn for us to win this game going into our region.''