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PREP FOOTBALL PREDICTION COLUMN: Westover steps up

Herald High School Beat Writer Mike Phillips

Herald High School Beat Writer Mike Phillips

So much for the best laid plans of mice and men.

Westover meets state powerhouse Jonesboro tonight at Hugh Mills in what was supposed to be a homecoming for Jonesboro coach De’Timothy Floyd, a Westover grad who played for the Patriots and later for Albany State.

Floyd won’t be coaching the game because he is serving a two-game suspension for recruiting violations. Last week, Jonesboro assistant coach Nathan Wardlaw led the team to a 33-6 win against Mt. Zion.

Wardlaw will bring a loaded team to Hugh Mills, including two players who have already committed to SEC schools. Cameron Sutton, who is headed to Tennessee, is one of the best players Westover will see all year. He plays several positions, including receiver, defensive back and runs the ball out of the Wildcat offense. Taurean Ferguson, who has committed to Vanderbilt and will play in the secondary in college, plays both ways as a receiver and defensive back for Jonesboro. Both Sutton and Ferguson scored first-half TDs in last week’s opener. Jonesboro’s defense had seven sacks in the game.

Westover quarterback T. J. Cromer looked sharp in the opener, and he will need a big game if the Patriots hope to have a chance against Jonesboro, which is ranked No. 9 in the Class AAAA state poll.

This is the kind of game Westover coach Octavia Jones wants his kids to experience, and I give Jones a lot of credit for scheduling Jonesboro.An upset would be nice, and a 2-0 start by Westover with wins against Class AAAAAA Tift County and Jonesboro should be enough to get Westover ranked in the state’s Top 10.

This is a win-win game for Westover, because win or lose, it benefits from a game like this more than playing an easy opponent to beef up its record.

The Patriots have put together the toughest early schedule in Southwest Georgia. Westover plays Class AAAAA Lee County next week, before opening Region 1-AAAA play against Monroe, The Herald’s top-ranked team, Sept. 21, and then playing state-ranked Cairo on Sept. 28.

Jones knows the games against Monroe and Cairo could define his team’s season, and that’s why he’s playing Jonesboro tonight. He knows what a win would mean to his program and knows even better that if he hopes to build something special at Westover, where the program has had just four winning seasons in its history, his kids are going to need to play in games like this.

PREDICTION: Jonesboro 35, Westover 30

RIVALRY WEEKEND: There are two huge rivalry games tonight, the first in Bainbridge, where the Bearcats face neighboring Cairo in one of the best dog-fight games of the year, and in Pelham, where the revived Hornets meet Mitchell for county bragging rights.

Bainbridge needs this game to bounce back after losing to Florida powerhouse East Gadsden, and Cairo, which is good enough to make another deep run in the state playoffs, is out for revenge after last year’s 17-14 loss.

Bainbridge gave away four fumbles in its opening-night loss, and it’s hard to believe that will happen again — even against a Cairo defense that plays lights out every Friday and is even tougher when it faces its biggest rival Bainbridge.

PREDICTION: Bainbridge 21, Cairo 20

COUNTY SHOWDOWN: Mitchell County holds a 33-8-1 edge in the series, but this is a new day in Pelham, where the Hornets have one of their best teams in years. Mitchell is trying to regroup after losing 15 seniors, and after playing well in the opener, I would have picked Mitchell if the game was in Camilla. It’s in Pelham, and that may be the difference. It will be that close.

PREDICTION: Pelham 28, Mitchell County 27

HAIL MONROE: I still can’t believe Monroe lost on a Hail Mary pass in its opener last week, and now the Tornadoes are on the road again against Wilcox, a team that has as good of a chance of winning on a Hail Mary as any team in Georgia. Wilcox loves to throw and has tall targets, so my advice to Monroe is don’t let this game come down to the wire.

Jump on Wilcox early and try to take the crowd out of it. That’s what I think will happen. Herald Dynamite Dozen star Charles Stafford will throw four TDs, and the Nadas win this one by a couple of touchdowns.

PREDICTION: Monroe 28, Wilcox 14

TIME TO LIGHT IT UP: The over/under in tonight’s Lee County-Albany High game has to be at least 75 points, and I’ll take the over because I think both teams could score 40. Emmanul Byrd is going to have a big night for the Indians, but Kenneth Hurley, who had 200 yards last week, is set for another big game in Lee’s home opener.

PREDICTION: Lee County 45, Albany High 42

GET READY FOR A RUN AT DWS: Finally, Deerfield-Windsor will play a home game, and I might as well get this prediction out of the way now. I honestly believe the Knights are going to win the GISA Class AAA state title.

Sure, it’s early but you can’t talk me out of it. It starts tonight at home against Mount de Sales, and it won’t end until they’ve got another title at DWS. Yes, that means I will be picking Deerfield in every game for the rest of the season.

PREDICTION: DWS 30, Mount de Sales 17

BEST OF THE REST:

Sherwood Christian 28,

Randolph Southern 14

Westwood 35, Dawson Street 14

Westside Macon 28,

Dougherty 24

Terrell County 24,

Chattahoochee 7

Early County 45,

Miller County 28

Randolph-Clay 35, Spencer 12

Terrell Academy 27, Windsor 14

Americus-Sumter 21, Dooly 14

Southland 35, SGA 21

Cook 21, Crisp County 14

Lanier 20, Calhoun 14

Crisp Academy 45, Hancock 14

Seminole 28, Turner 21

Munroe Day (Fla.) 28,

Baconton 14

Deerfield 30, Mt. de Sales 14