Like fireworks? Then take a trip to Leesburg tonight to watch Albany QB Emmanul Byrd, above, and Lee County’s dual-threat, Matt Mears and Stephen Collier, light it up when the Trojans and Indians face off. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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WHO: Albany High (0-1) at Lee County (1-0).
WHAT: Battle of two area teams that haven’t played in 13 years.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today.
LIVE SCORING UPDATES: Log onto twitter.com/AlbHeraldsports.
LEESBURG — If you show up late at Lee County tonight, you might just miss a couple of touchdowns.
And so much more.
As first reported by The Herald three weeks ago, Lee County will honor fallen U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Sutton, a former Lee County student and football player who gave his life for his country in Afghanistan, at a ceremony that begins at 7 p.m. The Trojans are wearing a patch on their helmets this season as a way to pay tribute to Sutton.
This is Lee County’s first home game, and everyone expects a high-scoring game when Albany High faces Lee County tonight in what should be a showcase for both offenses.
It’s also a renewal of a rivalry that hasn’t been played since 1999.
“We really wanted to get back to playing the schools in Albany,’’ said Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio, who has games against Dougherty, Albany and Westover on his schedule this season.
The two teams haven’t played in 13 years and have met just 10 times in the history of the local showdown, beginning in 1984. Albany holds an 8-2 advantage, but Lee County has won the last two meetings.
“I really like the idea of playing them again,’’ Albany coach Felton Williams said. “It is a rivalry game, because of the proximity, and the kids all know each other.’’
Lee County (1-0) is coming off a 49-point night in its opener during which the Trojans changed quarterbacks on each series — and you can expect the same two-headed QB system tonight.
“We will play both quarterbacks,’’ said Fabrizio, who will use both Matt Mears and Stephen Collier under center. “Both have played well, and right now we are using two quarterbacks.’’
It doesn’t matter who is taking snaps with Kenneth Hurley in the backfield. He can fly.
Just ask Dougherty.
Hurley gained 200 yards and averaged 14.28 yards a carry in Lee’s 49-32 opening night win, and almost all of that yardage came in the first half. Hurley gained 175 yards and scored three touchdowns by the break, and then he sat out the fourth quarter.
Hurley, who was named to The Herald’s Dynamite Dozen team in the preseason, is off and running toward a big year. He was also named The Herald’s Player of the Week late Thursday after garnering the most votes in The Herald’s online weekly voting poll.
“He’s an exceptional running back,’’ Williams said. “He can get out there in space and do some damage to you. We have to try to contain him.’’
Albany High linebacker Juwon Young, a fellow Herald Dynamite Dozen player, is one of the best in Southwest Georgia and will have his eye on Hurley all night. But Williams knows Lee County can come at teams from every direction.
Fabrizio runs a wide-open spread offense, and the Trojans have been putting up big points on teams for the last three years.
“They do what the spread offense was designed to do,’’ Williams said. “They run and throw the ball. A lot of teams spread it out and throw the ball, but they can run it and throw it. They do both.’’
Williams doesn’t want tonight’s game to become a NASCAR race, but he says the chances are likely.
“We don’t want to get into a shootout with them,’’ he said. “That’s something I don’t want to get into. They can score, and we want to take that away from them. We want to have long, sustained drives and score, and keep the ball away from them. I don’t want a game where both teams are in the 40s.’’
The Indians have their own weapons and can score against anyone with Dynamite Dozen quarterback Emmanul Byrd, who threw for 180 yards and a TD and also ran for a TD in a 20-18 loss to Greenville last week. His numbers and the outcome would have been different if not for eight dropped passes, including two on-the-hands balls dropped on two-point conversion plays.
“They’ve got a real good football team, and their quarterback is really a dangerous player,’’ Fabrizio said. “You can tell he’s a four-year starter with the way he commands their offense. He has that presence and a real good arm. We are going to have to try and stop him.’’
Lee County gave up three long touchdown passes to Dougherty and quarterback Mike Whatley, who burned the Trojans for a 65-yard TD, a 63-yard TD and a 47-yard TD and ended the night with 331 yards in the air.
Fabrizio doesn’t want a repeat performance.
“I was disappointed in some of the things we did and the way we played, and we’ve got to play better,’’ he said.
Williams knows the Trojans will be coming after Byrd.
“We know they are going to bring their linebackers. We know they are going to blitz us all night,’’ Williams said. “No one is going to let Emmanul stand back there and beat them. They will be coming after him. We’re just going to have to take what they give us.’’