Herald High School Writer Mike Phillips
I hate to play amateur psychologist, but here goes.
I have thought all along that Americus-Sumter had a good chance to possibly upset Cairo this season. The Panthers’ offense is pretty talented, and since they had Cairo at home, things looked favorable for the upset.
Now I’m not so sure.
No one in Georgia will be pulling for Americus tonight as much as the Westover Patriots. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots didn’t send a couple of their best players up Highway 19 tonight and have them dress in Americus-Sumter uniforms to help out the Panthers against Cairo.
Not saying they will do that, just saying I wouldn’t be shocked if they did.
You see, Westover’s hopes of winning the first region title in school history depends on the game in Americus. Honest, it’s a strange Rubik’s Cube in Region 1-AAAA.
Westover plays Dougherty tonight and then Worth County before finishing up against Albany High. The Patriots will be big favorites to win all three games, and if they take care of business, Westover — which has never won a region title in school history — will finish 6-1 in the region.
Cairo is still unbeaten but must play Americus tonight and Monroe next week on the road, and if the Syrupmakers slip in either of those two games, they will finish 5-2 in the region. In that scenario, Monroe and Westover — if they win games they are favored to win — would finish 6-1 and tied for the region title, but since Westover already beat Monroe, 17-14, it would be the region champs.
That winding-road scenario all depends on Americus beating Cairo tonight.
That’s why Westover will be watching every tweet from The Albany Herald’s Twitter feed tonight (online at twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports). Yet, there’s more. If Cairo wins tonight and Monroe knocks off the Syrupmakers next week, then the likely finish would have Cairo, Westover and Monroe all tied at the top with 6-1 records.
Here’s the tiebreaker: points allowed by those three teams against each other. That’s not going to help Westover, which beat Monroe 17-14, but lost to Cairo, 31-7, giving up a total of 45 points.
At this point, Cairo has given up only seven points and Monroe has given up 17, so for Westover to win that tiebreaker, Cairo and Monroe would have to end up giving up a total of 46 points. That means Cairo would have to give up at least 39 to Monroe, and Monroe would have to give up at least 29 points to Cairo — and still beat the Syrupmakers.
That’s why Westover needs Americus-Sumter to win tonight.
Of course, Cairo can end all the confusion and mathematical breakdowns by beating Americus-Sumter and Monroe and winning its fourth consecutive region title.
While Westover is cheering for Americus tonight, Monroe, which plays at Crisp County, will be cheering for Cairo.
So who wins tonight in Americus?
Well, here comes my amateur psychology approach: I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult for Americus to turn around and get up for a big game against Cairo after what happened to the Panthers last week. They not only lost to Westover, 16-14, but they led most of the game and lost on a heartbreaking, 34-yard touchdown pass that came with 19 seconds left in the game.
That pass knocked Americus-Sumter out of the running to win the region title and was gut-wrenching. The Panthers are going to go to the playoffs whether they beat Cairo or not, and I just can’t see a team bouncing back from a loss like that and coming up with a huge upset seven days later.
Then there’s Cairo. The Syrupmakers haven’t lost a game in this region in more than three years. They know how to win big games, and they know to win it all they have to play their two best games of the season during the next two weeks.
PREDICTION: Cairo 21, Americus-Sumter 10
KNIGHTS ARE GAME OF THE WEEK AGAIN: Deerfield is in the opposite position that Americus-Sumter is in because the Knights are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 28-7 victory against rival Westfield that just about put DWS in control of the GISA Region 1-AAA race.
The Knights will be 100 percent in control if they win tonight.
Pinewood is suddenly a factor. The Patriots upset Southland, 15-14, by gambling on a two-point conversion at the end of last week’s game. That gamble gave Pinewood a 2-0 record and tied the Patriots for first with DWS in the region. Tonight’s game at Webb Memorial will break the tie.
The kids at Deerfield not only take a lot of momentum into this game but bring a defense that is the best in all of GISA. The Knights have given up just seven points in two region games and had six sacks and 12 plays for either no gain or a loss against a Westfield offense that put up 38 points against Southland and 38 against GISA power Mount de Sales.
I am not only predicting a DWS win tonight, but I will go out on a limb and predict that the Deerfield defense outscores Pinewood. I’m guessing the Knights will score once on either a fumble recovery, a pick-6 or a blocked kick — and then toss a shutout.
PREDICTION: Deerfield 21, Pinewood 0
BIG ONE FOR TROJANS: The other big game tonight is in Harris County, where Lee County will have to rebound from its first loss of the season. The Trojans gave state-ranked Thomas County Central all it wanted in a 41-35 loss last week, and now they will have to take their no-huddle offense on the road against a Harris County team that is unbeaten (2-0) in the Region 1-AAAAA race. Harris surprised the region when the Tigers upset Bainbridge, 21-17, in their region opener.
I think Harris, however, is in for a surprise tonight. The Trojans showed everyone in Georgia they need to be ranked in every Top 10 state poll in the state by the way they played TCC, and Dean Fabrizio’s wide-open offense will get it done again tonight in a win that will all but guarantee Lee County a berth in the state playoffs.
Prediction: Lee County 43, Harris County 28
The best of the rest:
Monroe 35, Crisp County 14
Westover 32, Dougherty 24
Mitchell County 28, Calhoun County 7
Fitzgerald 28, Early County 21
Seminole County 35, Randolph-Clay 20
Pelham 21, Berrien 14
Terrell Academy 21, Sherwood 20
Southland 35, Tiftarea 7
Crisp Academy 21, First Presbyterian 7
Bainbridge 28, Northside Columbus 7
Westwood 35, SGA 14
Miller County 30, Stewart 7