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PREP NOTEBOOK: Mitchell County schools gear up for rivalry games

Pelham meets Baconton Charter, then Mitchell County in consecutive weeks

Pelham players work on blocking drills during a recent practice. The Hornets meet county rivals Baconton Charter and Mitchell County in consecutive games starting Friday night. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

Pelham players work on blocking drills during a recent practice. The Hornets meet county rivals Baconton Charter and Mitchell County in consecutive games starting Friday night. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Worth County players run onto the field before last Friday night’s game at Fitzgerald. The Rams are open this week. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

As much as the public high school football coaches in Mitchell County try to downplay it, the next two Friday nights will be two of the bigger – if the not the biggest – football games of the year for them.

Baconton Charter School will entertain Pelham Friday night at Centennial Stadium in Camilla. Then next week, Mitchell County will travel to play at Pelham.

The only other weekend that could be bigger is on October 10 when Mitchell entertains Baconton in the Region 1-A opener. It will be the first meeting between the two.

“These are pretty big time games for us,” said Pelham coach Frankie Carroll, whose Hornets pulled off the sweep of the two last season.

It’s the season opener for Pelham but for Baconton, they want to redeem themselves from last week’s 38-13 loss to Central-Talbotton, a game in which many outlets across the state reported the score incorrectly.

“This is game a lot of our kids circle on the calendar,” Baconton coach Johnny Hayes said. “We’ve played Pelham every year and coach Carroll and his staff are class acts. We know Pelham is going to execute well. We know we’re going to have to meet their execution and their intensity, and see where we stand in the end.”

Carroll said he loves coaching in the rivalry games, but the build-up can be a distraction.

“We’re all in the same county … all of kids know their kids and so forth,” Carroll said. “We’re the bigger school, but Baconton is trying to build a program. We’re trying to build our program as well. It’s going to be a big money game at their place.”

WORTH’S OPEN DATE: Worth County coach Jason Tone says there’s pros and cons to this week’s open date. After a 27-20 loss to Fitzgerald last week, the Rams won’t play again until next Friday night when they visit Lee County.

“It’s good to see your mistakes and get a get a chance to correct them and also get healed up,” Tone said of the open date. “But then you’d also rather get that bad taste out rather than having to stew on it for two weeks.”

After reviewing the film from Friday’s loss, Tone said he saw some positives.

“But there are always things we could have done better,” he said. “On offense, we made a lot of stupid penalties. We had two false starts, a holding penalty, a block in the back and a fumble. Then our defense held Fitzgerald to five three and outs and forced three turnovers.

“But we just couldn’t get off the field in the second half. But the kids played hard and never quit. We were down by two touchdowns with five minutes left, came back and scored and had a chance for an onside kick.”

Tone was happy with the turnovers his team created. Eric Burrows had an interception, Toddrick Jackson returned a fumble for a touchdown and Keeven Giddens recovered a fumble, which led to Worth County’s final touchdown of the night.

BAINBRIDGE GETTING LOVE: Bainbridge plays its first game of the season at Early County Friday night. And head coach Jeff Littleton is expecting a tight game.

“That game last year was real close for the first three quarters,” Littleton said, whose Bearcats took a 26-0 victory last season. “But then we got a couple of breaks and made the score look lopsided. We’re two pretty evenly matched teams and it’s going to be a fight for both of us.”

After making the playoffs last season in Class AAAAA, the Bearcats are already getting noticed. Bainbridge is fourth in the Albany Herald’s Fab 5 poll and the Bearcats received some votes in several preseason high school polls – before the team has even played a game.

“We’re honored that people feel like that and voted like that,” Littleton said. “Bainbridge High has had some real good teams and a proud tradition. We want to meet and exceed those standards. We’re working hard every day to try and do that.”

THIS AND THAT: Westwood will play its only Thursday night game of the season when it entertains Trinity Christian of Dublin Thursday night at Centennial Stadium. The Wildcats also have a Saturday night game this year on Sept. 13 when they host Flint River. … Three members of Region 1-AAAA got some recognition in this week’s Georgia Sportswriters Association football poll. Thomas County Central is fifth, while Cairo and Westover received votes. Seminole County was ranked 10th in Class AA, while Mitchell County received votes in Class A. … Deerfield-Windsor will make its second straight trip to Tallahassee, Fla. in as many weeks Friday night when it meets North Florida Christian. The Knights defeated Maclay last week.