With just one week in the regular season, The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll had a slight adjustment. With Monroe’s 34-0 loss at Cairo last weekend, the Tornadoes were jumped by idle Mitchell County.
Lee County continues to lead the poll, followed by Seminole County and Westover at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Mitchell County, last week’s No. 5, moved up a spot to fourth. Monroe, last week’s No. 4, slipped to fifth.
The top-ranked Trojans (8-1) can earn their ninth win by taking care of Bainbridge on Friday night. A victory would also mean Lee County would play host to a first-round playoff game when the state playoffs begin on Nov. 15.
That’s a statement considering Lee County was given up for dead following a 45-14 rout at Thomas County Central on Oct. 18. But the Trojans have reeled off back-to-back victories, including an impressive 44-7 thumping of defending Region 1-AAAAA champion Harris County two weeks ago.
“All we can ask for is to control our own destiny,” Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio said. “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.”
Seminole County, who has been the No. 2 team in the poll for most of the season, rolled to its ninth win with a shutout of Miller County last week. The Indians, who have outscored their Region 1-A opponents 195-35, entertain Herald No. 5 Mitchell County in a game that will decide the Region 1-A championship.
The loser isn’t totally out of the postseason picture. Both teams have a chance to get into the 16-team Class A public school playoffs by virtue of the power rankings.
But forget the playoffs. Both want to finish the regular season with a victory.
Mitchell County (6-3) has been impressive lately as well. The Eagles have won five straight and outscored their opponents 218-43 during the streak.
Westover (7-2) remains at No. 3 with a thrilling come-from-behind win over Worth County, which earned the Patriots their first region title in school history. It also means Westover would be at home in at least the first two rounds of the playoffs provided it keeps winning.
Even had the Patriots lost, they still could have claimed the title this week with a victory over Albany High.
“We wanted to go ahead and solidify the region title and turn our focus to the playoffs,” Westover coach Octavia Jones said. “We feel like we’ve got a team capable of making a run if we continue to improve and minimize our mistakes.”
Monroe took a dip after its offense failed to produce 100 yards of total offense and crossed into Cairo territory just once in the game. But the Tornadoes want to improve heading into the playoffs. They are the No. 3 seed regardless of the outcome of Friday night’s game at Worth County.
“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).”
1. Lee County (8-1): After routing Northside-Columbus last week, the Trojans can finish in second place in Region 1-AAAAA. However, they must defeat Bainbridge in order to do that.
Next: vs. Bainbridge, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
2. Seminole County (9-0): The Indians are undefeated and can finish the regular season unbeaten with a victory over Mitchell County this week. Seminole hasn’t been challenged since the third week of the season when they downed Clinch County 21-14.
Next: vs. Mitchell County, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
3. Westover (7-2): The Patriots clinched the Region 1-AAAA title last week. Does that mean this Saturday’s game against Albany High is meaningless? No, the Patriots want to beat Albany and win the city championship.
Next: at Albany, Saturday, 7 p.m.
4. Mitchell County (6-3): The Eagles were off last week but play their biggest game of the year this weekend. A win gives Mitchell the Region 1-A title and an automatic berth in the Class A public school playoffs.
Next: at Seminole County, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
5. Monroe (5-4): The Tornadoes were flattened in Cairo last weekend and lost out on a chance to earn the Region 1-AAAA No. 2 seed. Regardless, Monroe is in the playoffs as the third seed.
Next: at Worth County, Friday, 7:30 p.m.