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WHO: Herald No. 1 Monroe (2-1) vs. Westover (1-2).
WHAT: First game of city rivalry series.
WHEN: 7 p.m. today.
WHERE: Hugh Mills.
ONLINE: Live updates @ twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports
ALBANY — There’s just a few things you need to know about tonight’s Monroe-Westover game at Hugh Mills, where the end zone could get crowded, early and often.
Last week, Westover scored on the second play from scrimmage on a 50-yard run by Dynamite Dozen tailback Dalviness “Deion” Greene and then scored on its fourth play from scrimmage on a 62-yard pass from T.J. Cromer to Jackie Childs.
Four plays, 14 points!
Monroe, meanwhile, scored on the first play from scrimmage last week on a 58-yard TD pass from Dynamite Dozen QB Charles Stafford to Kevin Williams.
Get the idea?
These two teams can score like lightning, even if they liked each other — and they don’t. This is the biggest rivalry in Albany and one of the best in Southwest Georgia. Now throw a little icing on the cake, because both teams believe they can win the Region 1-AAAA title, and put a cherry on top of that icing because tonight is the region opener for both. Then there is the unofficial city title that is always on the line when these two meet.
They met last year on the final day of the regular season with a playoff berth on the line.
Monroe won and went storming into the playoffs.
Westover went home and started getting ready for revenge.
Need to know anything else?
“I wish we could open the region against someone other than Westover,” Monroe coach Charles Truitt said this week. “This is such a big game, and the rivalry is so big. There is so much intensity in this game. We know we will have to match their intensity.’’
Monroe, the top-ranked team in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll, is also ranked in the Class AAAA state Top 10 poll and would be unbeaten and ranked in the Top 5 if not for a Hail Mary loss to state-ranked Brooks County. Westover, meanwhile, has played one of the toughest schedules anywhere and enters at 1-2, but the Patriots would also be unbeaten if not for back-to-back letdowns in the second half against state-ranked Jonesboro and Herald No. 3 and unbeaten Lee County, which came back from 28-20, to beat Westover 42-28 last week.
Don’t expect a letdown tonight.
“We know we have to get ready for Westover,” said Monroe’s Anthony Smith, a Dynamite Dozen selection at linebacker. “We know how big this game is. It’s the first game in the region, and it’s Westover.”
Westover knows it has to stop Stafford, who has thrown for more than 600 yards in three games and would have had more than 700 if not for dropped balls last week in an overtime win against Fitzgerald, and Williams, who has more than 300 yards in receptions and has run a punt and a kickoff back for touchdowns already this year. Monroe’s defense has to solve the combo attack of Cromer and Greene, who make Westover one of the more balanced teams in the region -- maybe the most balanced.
Westover coach Octavia Jones hopes his team is up to the task on both sides of the ball tonight.
“We’ve been telling our guys all week that to have a chance to win the region we have to win this game,’’ said Jones, who knows all too well that Westover has never won a region title and wants this team to make history. “We’re not looking at it as a rivalry game as much as we’re looking at it as an important region game. We have a goal of winning the region, and we know to win the region we need to win this game. The rivalry is there. I know our kids want bragging rights and all of that, but our focus and our goal is to win the region.”
Truitt feels the same way.
“Win or lose, I think both teams will make the playoffs,” he said. “And whoever wins this game will be a frontrunner to win the region. Westover has a real good team. They’re well-coached and they have a lot of talent. It’s a big game, and it’s a game that’s a good measuring stick for both of us to see where we are right now.’’