Lee County QB Stephen Collier threw for four TDs on Friday and ran for two more in the Trojans' 55-6 win against Dougherty.
LEESBURG --- Stephen Collier stared at the scoreboard for a moment, his gaze lingering a little longer than you would expect after a 55-6 rout of Dougherty in Friday’s season opener.
Then the Lee County quarterback returned his eyes and his thoughts to his postgame interview and shook his head with disapproval.
“I’m not happy. None of us are happy,” Collier said. “We have to do better. We left some points on the board (Friday) and definitely need to do better.”
Yep, you heard him right. The celebration in Leesburg was muted Friday even after the Trojans cruised to their third-largest win since Dean Fabrizio took over the program in 2009. Lee County could have won Friday’s game by 149 points, and they still wouldn’t have been satisfied.
These Trojans, the ones who are talking about going on a deep run in the state tournament and having a year even better than last season’s 7-4 record, have their sights set on something much bigger this season, and Friday’s blowout win was just the first step in that direction.
“We are certainly pleased with the win, but we have some big goals this year and are trying not to get too high or too low after each game,” said Fabrizio, who is trying to lead Lee County to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in school history.
If Friday night was any indication, 2013 truly could be the year of the Trojans, and Collier, who is committed to Ohio State, showed why he is the perfect leader to take this Lee County squad into the record books and beyond.
He threw for 189 yards, ran for 40 more and had his hand in six touchdowns, but the senior stayed poised after the win and instead wanted to talk about everything he could have done better.
“I’m only happen with perfection,” said Collier, who threw an interception in the first quarter --- a brief slip up in an otherwise brilliant night when he tossed four TDs in the first three quarters. “I probably should have thrown for three more touchdowns (Friday). Until I get to that level I won’t be happy.”
The Trojans might have found the perfect sidekick for Collier in sophomore receiver Devontae Seay, who only caught three passes in the blowout, but all of them ended in the end zone. His first TD came on the third play of the game when he snuck behind Dougherty’s coverage and caught a Collier pass in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard reception. He added another TD catch in the second quarter on a screen pass that he took 65 yards to the house and then finished his career night with an 11-yard TD catch in the third quarter to lift Lee County to a 52-0 lead.
During the preseason, Collier talked about the huge hole running back Kenneth Hurley left when he graduated to Benedict College, leaving Lee County’s QB without the other half of last season’s “two-headed monster.”
Seay, the younger brother of former Lee County star and Albany Herald People's Choice Player of the Year Sanford Seay, made it a little easier for Collier to forget about Hurley.
“That didn’t come easily though,” Collier said about his connection with Seay. “We have had some long summer days, and we work with each other all the time in practice. That’s just what makes us better and makes great things happen on the field. You saw it all come together (Friday) night.”
Seay had seven TDs last season as a freshman and could blow past that number this season as the chemistry with Collier grows even stronger.
“Devontae had a great game,” Fabrizio said. “He started for us last year as freshman and has kind of been in the shadow of his brother. But (Friday) he really started to step out of that shadow in a big way. We are expecting a big year out of him.”
Seay has high expectations for himself, too.
“I feel like I can be a go-to guy this year,” he said.
He certainly was on Friday when he scored 46 seconds into the game after Trojan senior Kevin Hopkins nearly scored on the opening kick off before being tripped up at the Dougherty 22-yard line.
Lee County running back Jamal Gardner rushed for six yards on the opening play of scrimmage, setting up a quick score for Collier and Seay.
“Coming out and getting that momentum and getting that momentum started is a great feeling to know that we are moving in the right direction early,” Collier said. “Sometimes teams can get off to a slow start, but we were able to get that strike first.”
And the Trojans struck often.
Collier added TD rushes of 20 and 4 yards and threw two 65-yard TD passes to Seay and JQ Quimbley in the first half to put Lee County on top 35-0 at halftime. The Trojans opened the second half with a 28-yard interception return for a TD by Nui Misajon, and also got field goals of 27 and 43 yards from junior place kicker Michael Langston, who was 5-for-6 in extra points.
“The thing we are focused on is improving every week,” Fabrizio said. “We are happy with the win and our performance (Friday), but we know we have a lot of things we need to get better on and improve. We know we aren’t where we need to be at this point.”
DOOMED FROM THE OPENING KICKOFF: The Dougherty football team spent an entire season trying to forget about the past and revive a once proud program.
In a matter of seconds on Friday, all the frustration from the past few years came storming back.
Dougherty, which has just four wins the last three seasons, nearly watched as Lee County scored on the opening kickoff, and then second-year coach Corey Joyner watched as his team seemingly gave up on him 10 seconds into the game.
“You could see heads dropping, and it was almost like, ‘Here we go again,’ ” Joyner said. “When they took it all the way down to the 20-yard line, that let the air out of our sails. We are the type of team that needs to be up on top of things. We can’t allow big plays to happen. We don’t adjust well mentally when things like that happen. I think we kind of went into the tank on that kickoff return.”
Joyner spent the rest of the game lifting his players’ chins off the ground and trying to motivate a group of kids who spent countless hours during the offseason trying to help their young coach bring some respect back to Dougherty. Instead, it was some of those same disappointing emotions from the last few years that crept to the surface.
“When you have been losing like we have been losing the last four or five years, it’s easy to go into the tank,” Joyner said. “That’s what happened. Our kids haven’t seen success in a very long time, and once we got down it was almost like it was over.”
Dougherty finally got on the scoreboard with 10:40 left in the game when running back Ladarrien Royal, who finished with 66 yards on 19 carries, rushed for a 2-yard score. Junior quarterback Michael Whatley was 9-for-16 for 58 yards, while Ricardo Sloan led the Trojans in receptions with four catches for 40 yards.
Dougherty is off until next Saturday when it plays its home opener against Westside, Macon, which won its season opener Friday against Central, Macon, 50-13.
“You just have to wash your hands of this,” Joyner said of Friday’s loss. “You just have to let it go, because even though its 55-6 it’s just one loss. We just have to get better and better each week.”