Fab 5 intact after top teams hang tough in Week 3

Albany Herald Fab 5 Poll

1. Monroe (1-1)

The Tornadoes bounced back from an opening-night Hail Mary loss to Brooks County with an impressive 28-14 win against Class A No. 2 Wilcox. Next: vs. Fitzgerald, 7 p.m. Saturday at Hugh Mills Stadium.

2. Bainbridge (1-1)

After a bye week, the Bearcats knocked off rival and Class AAAA No. 2 Cairo, 17-14, but now face Herald No. 4 Early County. Next: At Early County, 8 p.m. Friday.

3. Lee County..... (2-0)

The Trojans have put up more than 100 points in two games with the most explosive offense in SW Georgia. Next: At Westover, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hugh Mills Stadium.

4. Early County ..(2-0)

The Bobcats have had two big wins against Seminole and Miller and are playing like one of the top Class AA teams in the state. Next: vs. Bainbridge, 8 p.m. Friday.

5. Westover .........(1-1)

The Patriots had state-ranked Jonesboro on the ropes early before losing, 34-12, but won’t be penalized — the same way Monroe and Bainbridge weren’t when they lost to state powers — and get to stay in the Top 5 this week. Next: vs. Lee County, 7:30 p.m., Friday at Hugh Mills Stadium.

NOTE: Poll voted on weekly by Herald sports department. New poll will be released every Tuesday.

ALBANY — Monroe coach Charles Truitt all but vowed to get into the win column after his Tornadoes lost, 21-18, on a Hail Mary to Class AA state power Brooks County in the season opener.

“We will redeem ourselves,’’ he said going into last Friday’s game against Wilcox County, the No. 2-ranked team in Class A.

His prediction looks pretty good now.

“We needed to get a win, and the kids responded real well in the game against Wilcox,’’ he said after the game — a 28-14 Tornadoes win. “We have a tough schedule before we start our region. We didn’t want to be 0-2 heading into this week’s game against Fitzgerald (the No. 2-ranked team in Class AA). But it will feel good to be at home after playing three on the road.

“We played Tift County in a scrimmage on the road, and our first two games of the season were against real good teams on the road. It’s going to feel good playing at home.”

When they kick off Friday, Monroe will still be No. 1 in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll, which didn’t change at all this week. The top four teams all won, and No. 5 Westover lost to a state-ranked team from Jonesboro, which needed a big second half just to beat the Patriots.

The poll could have some shakeups this week with two big games scheduled Friday involving two of the Top 5, while Monroe is facing its third state power in a row Saturday night at Hugh Mills Stadium.

No. 2 Bainbridge, which is coming off an emotional 17-14 win against rival and Class AAAA No. 2 Cairo, faces No. 4 Early County on the road in one of the best games in this part of the state. Bainbridge beat Cairo on a field goal with four seconds left in the game, and this week’s game may come down to the wire as well.

“Early County really has a good team,” Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher said. “They played us tough last year, and we’re going to have to play a real good game to beat them.”

Bainbridge beat Early County, 16-12, last season and both teams brought back a ton of starters, and both look like playoff teams. Early County might be one of the top Class AA teams in the state. The Bobcats are receiving votes each week in the state poll, but have yet to crack the Top 10.. A win against Class AAAAA Bainbridge might be enough to convince sports writers from outside Southwest Georgia to vote them into the Top 10.

Another huge game is at Hugh Mills, where No. 3 Lee County faces No. 5 Westover at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Lee County, which put three of the four teams from Dougherty County on its schedule this season, has beaten Dougherty High and Albany High and will try to get a sweep (the Trojans don’t play Monroe) of the three city teams on Friday.

Lee has outscored its first two Dougherty County teams, 101-45, including last week’s 52-13 win against Albany High. Westover beat Class AAAAAA Tift County, 33-29, and was leading Jonesboro, 12-8, at halftime before losing, 34-12.

Westover has been playing without its best defensive player, Herald Dynamite Dozen linebacker Don Mills, who has been out with a hamstring injury. The Patriots are hoping to get Mills back in time for the game against Lee County.

This is the last week of non-region games for teams in Region 1-AAAA, which begins next week.

The region opener at Hugh Mills? Monroe and Westover.