Westover coach Octavia Jones is to be forgiven if he’s still not celebrating his Patriots’ first region football title in school history today.
Jones said there is still a lot of work to do this season — such as finishing as the city champions and entering the state playoffs with some positive momentum. The Patriots came from behind to win a 24-17 game over Worth County on Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium, propelling them to the Region 1-AAAA title.
That means Westover will host a first-round postseason game on Nov. 15. But after Friday night’s victory, Jones didn’t let his team celebrate too long.
“We definitely wanted to close out the regular season on a winning note,” said Jones, whose team faces Albany High Saturday night in its regular-season finale.
“The city championship is there for the taking, but it’s also a chance for us to take some positive momentum into the playoffs.”
Westover won its sixth straight despite losing three first-half turnovers and digging itself in a hole. Jones was very impressed with Worth County’s version of the wing-T offense, which gave the Patriots’ stout defense a challenge.
“We don’t see the wing-T that much anymore, so when you go against it that one or two times a year, it’s going to give you problems,” Jones said. “Those guys played hard. Then the way coach (Jason) Tone runs it with the no huddle, they do a good job at exploiting your weaknesses.”
Jones has been proud of his team’s achievements this season. However, with the postseason approaching, he hopes to use next week’s game against Albany as a springboard into the playoffs.
“We wanted to go ahead and solidify the region title and turn our focus to the playoffs,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got a team capable of making a run if we continue to improve and minimize our mistakes.”
MONROE OL HAS CONCUSSION: Monroe senior offensive lineman Malcolm Cummings was taken off the field Friday night in an ambulance with four minutes left. Tornadoes coach Charles Truitt confirmed on Saturday that Cummings suffered a concussion in Monroe’s 34-0 loss to Cairo.
“I don’t know if he went helmet-to-helmet or knee-to-helmet with the young man from Cairo,” Truitt said. “We know he’ll be out for next week, but hopefully, he’ll be back soon.”
Cummings’ concussion was just one of the many things that went sour for Monroe on Friday night in Cairo. The Tornadoes, with Westover beating Worth County, did secure the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAAA in the state playoffs. Monroe plays at Worth County in its final regular-season game this week.
“We live to play another game,” Truitt said. “We can’t afford not to play good. We’ve got to get better and play like this is a playoff game. Worth County has improved a lot and they run the football well, something we had trouble doing Friday night (against Cairo).”
The Tornadoes never got anything going against Cairo. The Syrupmakers and the rain neutralized Monroe’s offense, while Cairo’s ground attack rolled up 367 yards rushing. Monroe managed just 90 yards of total offense.
“Once we got there, we looked out and it was pouring down rain,” Truitt said. “We allowed the weather to defeat us. They (Cairo) had the same type of weather we did. We can’t expect to play on a dry field every game. I know we’ve got some younger players, but we have a lot of veterans, too. They’ve got to learn how to overcome those types of games.”
LEE’S BIG GAME: Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio began going through the list of scenarios as far as Region 1-AAAAA seeds are concerned on Saturday. Before he finished, he stated the obvious.
“We’ve just got to win,” said Fabrizio, whose Trojans play host to Bainbridge in their final regular-season game this week. A victory means Lee County will finish no worse than the No. 2 seed.
“All we can ask for is to control our own destiny. We’ve got a chance to get the ninth win of the season and host a first round playoff game. Bainbridge is a good club and they’re going to be a big challenge for us.”
The Trojans (8-1) stomped Northside-Columbus 55-0 Friday night, holding the Patriots to just 40 yards of total offense, including seven yards rushing.
Bainbridge (5-4) has also clinched a playoff berth but could enhance its postseason status with a victory.
DEERFIELD-WINDSOR IN PLAYOFFS: The Knights secured a trip to the postseason by downing Tiftarea 35-7. Deerfield can finish as high as the No. 2 seed or as low as No. 4. The Knights play host to Southland Academy in their regular-season finale this week.
Deerfield intercepted six Tiftarea passes, including two each from Tripp Presley and Aaron McNutt.
It was a big win for the Knights, who suffered two tough setbacks in their previous two games. Coach Allen Lowe said his team has to defeat Southland Friday to force a tie-breaker. If the Knights do that, it would leave them, Southland and Pinewood with identical 3-2 region records.
The tie-breaker would be the fewest amount of points scored in the first half of games the trio played against each other. That team would earn the No. 2 seed, then the tiebreaker for the final two spots would be head-to-head.
“We’ve got to beat Southland for the tie-breaker to be enforced,” Deerfield coach Allen Lowe said. “After two heartbreaking losses, I was glad to see our team bounce back Friday night. We know we’re going to play next week, we just don’t know where and against who in the playoffs.”
FINAL PLAYOFF BERTH ON THE LINE: With Crisp County’s 21-6 victory over Albany High on Thursday and Americus-Sumter’s 31-9 victory over Dougherty, next week’s game between Crisp and Americus-Sumter will decide the fourth and final playoff seed from Region 1-AAAA.