Lee County quarterback and Ohio State commit Stephen Collier, left, throws a pass during last year’s game against Thomas County Central as Trojan offensive lineman and Louisiana-Lafayette commit Jesse Freeman blocks a TCC defender. Lee County and TCC both enter today’s game undefeated in Region 1-AAAAA play and ranked in the Top 10 in the state. (Darrell Waters/Special to The Herald)
LEESBURG — Lee County players and coaches will try to downplay it.
But to folks in Leesburg, you get the feeling they want to win tonight’s game at Thomas County Central more than any other.
When Lee County meets the Yellow Jackets in a pivotal Region 1-AAAAA game, it’s a chance for Lee to show they can play with the powerhouse program.
Even though the Jackets won 41-35 last year in Leesburg and controlled much of the game, Lee County believed they could have played better and perhaps been on the opposite end of the outcome.
“We felt like we were close last year,” Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio said. “Our guys are excited to get another shot at them.”
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at the Jackets Nest in Thomasville.
Thomas County Central, long-considered the standard by which to measure your football program in Southwest Georgia, runs the option attack to near perfection behind quarterback Adam Choice and running back Deondre Cooksey. The two have combined for 1,880 yards rushing.
Defensively, the Jackets (6-1, 2-0 Region 1-AAAAA) are as stout as their teams in the mid-90s when TCC claimed five state football championships.
Fabrizio said Lee County (6-0, 1-0) faces a stern challenge. However, he doesn’t want his Trojans to put so much stock in tonight’s game that they lose the focus for the remainder of the season. Lee still has games against last season’s region champion in Harris County, Northside-Columbus and its regular-season finale against Bainbridge.
Lee entered the TCC game last year in the same situation – unbeaten with a 6-0 record and its offense putting up big numbers and scoring a lot of points. But the Trojans lost three of four to end the regular season, then lost at Whitewater in the first round of the postseason.
The Trojans don’t want a repeat.
“We’re just trying to get better,” Fabrizio said. “We’ve prepared for our opponent just like we have for every other opponent we’ve played this season. Thomas County Central has been the top team in our area for a long time.”
Thomas County Central coach Bill Shaver said Lee County’s team has been impressive. He said the offense directed by quarterback Stephen Collier, an Ohio State commitment, is just as impressive as last year. He said the Trojans defense has shown the biggest improvement.
“They’re playing a whole lot better,” Shaver said. “That’s where I see the biggest difference.”
A near capacity crowd is expected. Fabrizio said a large group of Lee supporters will be there.
If Lee wants to be mentioned among the elite in Region 1-AAAAA, he said beating Thomas County Central on the road will get fans talking.
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve had any game circled,” Fabrizio said. “But this is a game a lot of people have been talking about for a long time. Our kids have heard about Thomas County Central since they were little. Our kids want people to know about Lee County football. In order to do that, we’ve got to go on the road and beat them.”