LEESBURG — A lot has happened since Lee County played host to a state football playoff game.
That year was 2005. Georgia W. Bush was president, the Chicago White Sox had just won the World Series, MySpace was still popular and actor Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie.
The Herald No. 1 Trojans (9-1, 3-1 Region 1-AAAAA) have a chance to be at home in the playoffs next week if they can take care of Bainbridge tonight in the regular-season finale — a task that won’t be easy.
When the two meet tonight at Lee County High School, postseason seeds will be at stake. Both have already qualified for the playoffs. Barring a Harris County upset of region leader TCC tonight, a Lee County victory gives the Trojans the No. 2 seed and the right to play host next week. Meanwhile, a Bainbridge win could move the Bearcats as high as the second seed.
Regardless of the various playoff scenarios, Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio would rather discuss the things his team can control.
“If we want to host, we need to win,” said Fabrizio, who has guided the Trojans to back-to-back postseason appearances.
“We have to worry about the things we can control.”
First-year Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton didn’t care to get involved in the postseason scenarios either. His Bearcats (5-4, 2-2) are in the middle of a three-game winning streak and playing their best football of the season.
“I told our guys that the main thing is don’t worry about the things we can’t control,” Littleton said. “We just need to work on getting better in practice and continuing to improve.”
Littleton said he’s pleased with how his team has played. The Bearcats returned just four starters and with a new coaching staff, it took things a while to get rolling.
“Our kids and our coaches have worked very hard,” he said. “They’ve continued to improve each day. We want to keep the momentum going that we’ve built.”
Offensively, tonight’s game should be exciting as it pits the top two quarterbacks in Region 1-AAAAA in Lee’s Stephen Collier — last week’s Herald Player of the Week — and Bainbridge’s Preston Norris — this week’s Herald Player of the Week runner up — who rank 1-2 in passing yardage. Collier, a Herald Dynamite Dozen selection who has committed to Ohio State, has thrown for 1,647 yards on 105-of-213 with 17 touchdowns.
Norris, meanwhile, has passed for 957 yards on 65-of-119 with nine touchdowns.
Neither coach will be paying much attention to the other Region 1-AAAAA game in Hamilton between visiting Thomas County Central and Harris County. The Jackets can win the region title outright with a win, while a Harris County victory and a Lee County victory would create a three-way tie for first-place.
The tie-breaker would be points allowed in games against each other.
“We’re not looking at any of that,” Fabrizio said. “Bainbridge High is going to be a big challenge for us.”