Herald Dynamite Dozen selection Chris Brown of Seminole County is the centerpiece of Southwest Georgia’s most dangerous offense, scoring five TDs last week alone as The Herald No. 1 Indians dropped a school record 73 points in a win against Daleville, Ala. But while that victory was nice, it pales in comparison to Seminole’s anticipation for tonight’s showdown with 1-A foe Mitchell County, which won the region a year ago without having to face the Indians, who had to forfeit that game due to suspensions stemming from a 2010 fight the week before with Daleville. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DONALSONVILLE -- The wait is over.
Seminole County and Mitchell County will finally meet tonight in a game they have been waiting to play for a year.
For Seminole, it seems even longer.
"We're really ready to play this game. We've been waiting a long time -- a real long time. We've been waiting a year to play this game," said Seminole cornerback and receiver Dee Virgin, one of several Indians who were upset a year ago when the Indians had to forfeit their game against Mitchell because they didn't have enough players to field a team.
GAME OF THE WEEK --- Want To Go or Follow Online?
WHO: Mitchell County (2-2, 1-0 in Region 1-A) at Seminole County (4-1, 2-0 in Region 1-A).
WHAT: Huge Region 1-A showdown.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today.
LIVE UPDATES: Go online, log on and follow the game at: twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.
That forfeit came from a decision made by the GHSA, which suspended just about every member on Seminole's team after an incident the week before the Seminole-Mitchell game. The GHSA ruled that almost every Seminole player left the bench during a fight on the field that involved just three total players from Seminole and Daleville, Ala.
Right or wrong, the Indians had to accept the decision, and instead of playing in a showdown for first place in the Region 1-A race, Seminole had to swallow a loss. Mitchell went unbeaten to win the Region 1-A title, and Seminole finished second with one region loss -- the forfeit to Mitchell.
"It really hurt us last year when we didn't play them,'' Virgin said. "Everything was going great and then the incident happened. We knew we had the region. All we had to do was beat them, and we didn't get the chance to play the game. It felt like it wasn't right. We didn't get the chance. Now we get to play them and get to prove it.''
Seminole, which garnered its first Top 10 state ranking this week (No. 9 in the Class A state poll), is No. 1 in The Herald's Fab 5 Poll and comes into the game on a roll. They've won four in a row after a last-second season-opening loss to state-ranked Wesleyan and are fresh off a school-record 11-touchdown, 73-point night against Daleville. Yes, that Daleville, which was run over, 73-28, in Alabama last Friday.
"Last week we had a little revenge for motivation,'' Seminole coach Alan Ingram said. "We know this is a big game this week. It's a big game for us. It's a big game for them.
"It's kind of a playoff atmosphere for us. Our goal is to win the region championship, and the time is at hand.''
Mitchell is 2-2 and 1-0 in the region after blasting Stewart, 50-6 last week, but the two losses have come to bigger schools, Class AAA Westover and Class AA Thomasville.
The Eagles have been led by defensive back Jaquan Williams, who does a little of everything for Mitchell, including catching passes and running the ball. Williams has gained 170 yards on 20 carries (8.50 per carry) and has caught 10 passes for 173 yards. Mitchell's Modzelle Atkins has rushed for 115 yards on 26 carries for a team that likes to mix up its offense. Derrick Davis has taken over at quarterback and has completed 19 of 38 passes for 365 yards and six touchdowns, while Yancey Burns has been one of Mitchell's best receivers, catching seven passes for 193 yards and three TDs on offense.
Fans in Camilla and Donalsonville have been buzzing all week -- maybe even since last year -- about this game.
"A lot of people are talking about what happened last year,'' Mitchell coach Dondrial Pinkins said. "They're curious about what would have happened last year. But this game is not going to indicate what would have happened last year.
"It's two different clubs. We lost 12 seniors and they lost (some seniors, too). Seminole is a different team. We're different. Everything is different.''
But the stakes are the same -- first place in the Region 1-A race. There are four region games left on the schedule after tonight, but just about everyone in the region is pointing to this game.
"It's like the region championship,'' said Seminole's Barren Rambo, who plays linebacker and fullback. "We're all excited to play the game.''
They feel the same way at Camilla.
"Everybody is anxious. (Today) can't get here quick enough,'' Pinkins said after practice Wednesday. "I try to keep my guys settled down, keeping them calm. I'm trying to explain to my kids that it's not the beginning or end of the season.''
Ingram is doing the same thing at Seminole, trying to keep a lid on the hype that is surrounding this game.
He knows how emotional it can be for his kids to finally play Mitchell, but he also knows they have to keep their feet on the ground.
"They're veterans,'' Ingram said. "They will be ready to play. Mitchell has speed and quickness. There's speed everywhere, and that's always a problem. Coach Pinkins does a great job coaching them.
"They are as good as anybody we will play down the line, playoffs and all. Mitchell's that good. The Xs and 0s are over with. It's time to get down to business.''
Business at Seminole (4-1, 2-0 in Region 1-A) means running the ball -- and then running it again. The Indians' offense might be as good as any in the state. After all, they have put up some mind-boggling numbers this season.
Herald Dynamite Dozen selection Chris Brown has gained 600 yards on only 56 carries, and is averaging 10.17 yards per carry. He has also scored 14 touchdowns, including two TD receptions.
Rambo has gained 458 yards on 53 carries and scored six touchdowns, and QB Antwan Buggs has picked up 385 yards on 60 carries. Virgin, who hardly ever carries the ball, has gained 146 yards on 11 carries, and even backup QB Jakhari Martin has impressive numbers (217 yards on 29 carries).
Those five players have combined to rush for 1,843 yards on 209 carries. That's an average of 8.18 yards every time they touch the ball.
And tonight, they will be running with a little extra.
To Seminole's credit, the Indians didn't let last year's forfeit effect their season. They won the rest of their regular-season games.
"When it happened we talked about it,'' Rambo said. "We couldn't change it so we concentrated on the other teams we played. We ended up going to the playoffs, anyway. I think we're way better this year. We're stronger and more physical because of all the work we did in the summer to get ready for the season. We have really come together as a team. I feel like we're unstoppable.''
Still, Seminole knows Mitchell is loaded with talent, and that the Eagles want to win the Region 1-A title just as much as they do.
"We're pumped to play this game,'' Rambo said. "But we don't have a big head about it. We know they're a good team. We respect them.''
Brown knows every yard will be tough against Mitchell.
"They play hard, and they've got more speed. But speed doesn't win games,'' Brown said. "We worked hard in the summer to get ready for this season, and it's starting to show. Everyone has stepped up. Every day at practice we have improved. I think we're ready for the challenge they are going to give us.''