Herald High School Beat Writer Mike Phillips
Best game of the week? Toughest game to pick this week? Game with the most impact of other teams?
Monroe goes to Americus-Sumter, and the ride home will either be a joy ride or the longest, most silent trip of the season.
Monroe (3-2, 1-1) can turn its season around with a win, and Americus (4-1, 2-0) can make a statement to everyone in Region 1-AAAA that it’s the year of the Panther. It’s one of the top showdowns this week in Southwest Georgia — outside of Brooks County and Fitzgerald (I know we don’t cover those two powerhouses, but I would take Brooks in that game).
There will be enough at stake tonight for Monroe, the team many thought was the favorite going into the region race, and for Americus, the team that has surprised everyone in the race.
The Michael Pollock saga is over. Pollock, who was suspended about a month ago for an incident on the practice field, lost his job as the head coach of the Panthers during a school board meeting Wednesday night.
He went 14-11 over two years and two games this season, and his Panthers were the region runner-up both years. They also made first-round exits in the playoffs both years. According to some tweets he sent out Thursday, Pollock was upset and felt he had been stabbed in the back. It’s over now.
The kids at Americus couldn’t have handled the ordeal any better. They just kept their minds on football, stayed focused and on course.
Not to mention admirable. They scored 107 points and won three in a row since the saga began and have a chance to win the Region 1-AAAA title. They won’t win it if they lose to Monroe, which has a lot to prove. One bad half against Westover in the region opener has the Tornadoes looking for some momentum and for some help.
They need someone else to beat Westover (ironically, that would be Americus next week) and then they need to win their last four games, including a mammoth game against three-time defending champ Cairo on No. 2 at Hugh Mills.
But they have to win tonight. Americus needs to win. Monroe has to win.
That’s the difference.
Now, while this drama is taking place in Americus, there’s a subplot in Cordele, where Westover needs to beat Crisp County to keep its region title hopes alive. The Patriots need to win and need Monroe to beat Americus.
That’s right, life will be easier for the Pats if their biggest rival beats the Panthers, and then Westover needs to beat Americus next week and hope that Americus and Monroe beat Cairo. That scenario — considering there are no upsets from the teams at the bottom of the region race — would give Westover the region title, the first in the school’s history.
Stay tuned. It could be a lot of fun sorting things out later.
But Monroe has to win tonight or forget about winning the title. It’s that simple for the Nadas. I think they’ll win. I think Americus will see the best defense it has seen all year, and Monroe’s “Green Wall” (that’s what the kids call Monroe’s defensive unit) wins this one.
Charles Stafford is going to throw for 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns, but Monroe wins this one on defense, because Americus tailback Wesley Fields is emerging as a tough running back, QB Bryce Benton can light it up in the air and Jonathan Thomas is a threat on both sides of the ball.
That’s it — Monroe’s defense has to win this game for the Nadas.
PREDICTIONs: Monroe 21, Americus-Sumter 14; Westover 28, Crisp County 14
DUEL IN DAWSON: There’s a huge Class A game in Dawson, where Terrell County (1-1, 3-3) hosts Mitchell County (1-1, 2-4). The Greenwave were rolling until they hit a wall in a 26-7 loss last week at Seminole County, where the Indians look ready for a run at the title. But this game is critical. Mitchell is coming off a 27-7 win against Randolph-Clay and have gotten better and better all year.
It looks like this may be one of those momentum games, and the feeling is Mitchell has it right now. It will be close, but the nod goes to the eagles.
PREDICTION: Mitchell County 32, Terrell County 28
DWS BACK AT IT: After a bye week and a celebration for coach Allen Lowe, Deerfield gets back on the field and will roll past Bulloch and get Lowe No. 201 tonight.
PREDICTION: Deerfield 35, Bulloch 7
BAINBRIDGE REBOUNDS: Best bounce back game will be the way Bainbridge takes care of Harris County tonight. After a bitter 17-14 overtime loss to Thomas County Central. Bainbridge should have won in regulation, but a late blocking penalty, 20 yards behind the play, wiped out a TD run in regulation for Bainbridge.
PREDICTION: Bainbridge 31, Harris County 10
BEST OF THE REST:
Westwood 35, Sherwood Christian 30
Albany 28, Dougherty 21
Seminole County 38, Stewart 14
Miller County 30, Randolph-Clay 20
Cook 40, Pelham 14
SGA 21, Brookwood 14
Robert Toombs 35, Randolph Southern 21
Baconton Charter 24, St. Francis 14
Crisp Academy 40, Fullington 28
Cairo 28, Worth County 14
Valwood 35, Terrell Academy 14
Westfield 31, Southland 21