Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio and the Trojans host state power TCC tonight in Leesburg with the winner assuming control of the Region 1-AAAAA title race.
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WHO: Thomas County Central (6-1) at Lee County (6-0).
WHAT: Region 1-AAAAA duel.
WHEN: 8 p.m. today.
LIVE SCORING UPDATES: twitter.com/AlbHeraldsports.
LEESBURG — It’s a game Lee County has been waiting on for a while — a game that not only could win instant respect for the Trojans across Georgia, but a game that could redefine the program.
All the unbeaten Trojans have to do is beat Thomas County Central tonight. That’s TCC, the No. 6-ranked team in Georgia with Adam Choice, one of the most electric players in the state.
But, oh, what a win would mean to the Trojans.
“It would mean everything — everything. Yes I said everything twice,’’ Lee County offensive lineman Chance Greene said. “Twice.”
It could be that significant to Lee County, which had just six winning seasons in its history before this year. These Trojans gave Lee its first-ever 6-0 start and are trying to make a name for themselves. They’re ranked in the Top 10 in one state poll, but a win against TCC would change that.
“We would be ranked in all the polls,’’ Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio said at practice this week. “It’s a big game for us. Without question, it’s a big game.’’
Lee will have to overcome more than the Yellow Jackets.
On Monday night, a parent of a Lee County player stormed the practice field, allegedly made threats and was arrested. The incident stemmed from her son quitting the team earlier in the day after he told his mother that Fabrizio placed his hands on him. The turmoil could have affected the team, but players said Wednesday that the scene was behind them, and they were concentrating on beating TCC.
“We had a group meeting with the players,’’ said safety Quaun Jamison, who leads Lee in tackles. “We know stuff was going on, but we can’t let that get to us. That’s all behind us. We’ve got the biggest game of the year this week. We’ve got it in our hands. We just have to close our hands.”
Fabrizio said his team has moved on and added that the day after the incident, everyone showed up for practice and they came to get ready for TCC.
“We had our best practice of the year on Tuesday,’’ Fabrizio said. ‘’We have just moved on. Sometimes, unfortunate things happen. It’s over and done. We’re focused on playing football. Our kids are focused on the game. This is a very tight-knit group. They’re excited about the game.’’
The Trojans have been looking forward to this one.
“We’ve been waiting since August,’’ Greene said. “We knew this was a big game then. They have always been the team to beat. Beating them would make my senior year.’’
It could mean a region title and more.
Both teams are unbeaten in the Region 1-AAAAA race, and the Georgia High School Football Daily website listed tonight’s game as one of the Top 10 in the state tonight. TCC is 6-1 and 2-0 in the region and Lee, which had a bye last week, is 1-0 in region play with four games left in the six-team region.
“I think this is for the region title,’’ Lee defensive back Jaylen Bush said. “We need to win this game. This is huge. It’s the biggest game of the year.’’
Lee County, ranked No. 1 in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll, has a wide-open offense that has been one of the top scoring teams in Georgia all year. The Trojans are averaging 45.3 points a game and Herald Dynamite Dozen tailback Kenneth Hurley has already rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season. Starting quarterback Stephen Collier has completed 48 of 89 passes for 730 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he has also rushed for 328 yards on 55 carries (6.0 yards per carry) and five TDs.
Lee County can put up points, but TCC can also score with anyone.
Choice, a junior quarterback who is projected as a running back in college, has already reportedly received offers from Georgia, Florida and Georgia Tech. He is explosive, rushing for 800 yards on 114 carries (7.0 yards per carry), and he has scored 14 TDs. He has also completed 16 of 31 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s the best player we’ve faced all year,’’ Fabrizio said. “He’s a special player. He’s got tremendous speed, and he’s poised. You have a play bottled up, and he can make something out of nothing. He can make a big play even when the play is defended. You have to have a disciplined team.’’
And Lee can’t afford to play from behind.
“We have to execute at a high level,’’ Fabrizio said. “We can’t make mistakes early. The last two years we made mistakes early and fell behind. We’ve got to be able to adjust quickly to the speed of their offense.’’
Jamison, who is the leader of Lee’s defense, feels the same way.
“Discipline,’’ Jamison said of tonight’s key. “You’ve got to have discipline to play them. One mistake could decide the game. (Choice) is elusive. If you’re not disciplined, he’s very dangerous. It will have to be our best defensive game of the year.’’
History is against Lee County in this one. The Trojans are 1-19 against TCC over the years, and TCC won the last two games — 56-29 last year and 69-28 two years ago. But that’s the point for the Trojans. They want to make history.
“TCC always beats us,’’ Hurley said. “But this is our chance to prove ourselves. This (game) can put Lee County on the map.’’