Mitchell County’s Quintin Sanders carries the team flag as Cedric Knight (12) and Demetrius Jones (4) run onto the field before the start of the Eagles game against Albany High Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — After the first major weekend of high school football, the Albany Herald’s Fab 5 football poll looks a lot like it did last week.
The first four teams remain the same - Lee County is still No. 1, followed by Westover, Monroe and Bainbridge. However, a newcomer makes its debut.
After Lee County pounded Crisp County 49-12 last Friday, it sent the Cougars tumbling out of the poll and Mitchell County, a 24-8 winner over Albany High, sneaks in at No. 5.
The Eagles scored just 24 points last week, but they scored in a variety of ways. Quarterback Troy Chester made his first start by tossing a pair of touchdown passes, Malik Rhodes and Josh Carter added 2-point conversion runs and McKinley West added a punt return for a touchdown.
Then Mitchell added the benefit of a safety when a bad snap for the Indians sailed out of the back of the end zone.
The Eagles continue their rugged schedule Friday night when they travel to meet cross-county rival Pelham, followed by Seminole County and Manchester before a game at Herald No. 1 Lee County on Sept. 26 before opening region play.
Mitchell coach Larry Cornelius was happy with the victory over Albany. However, he said his team must play better in the coming weeks.
“I was proud of our defense … they played very well,” Cornelius said. “But we did squander a lot of opportunities. I feel like our offense is going to click down the road, but we can’t expect to win when we’re misfiring on offense.”
Lee County continues to play impressively and locked down its hold on the top spot with a blowout of Crisp County. The Trojans will play host to Worth County Friday night.
They didn’t have a letdown after beating Westover on Aug. 23 in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.
“I thought we played pretty well coming off that big game last week,” Lee coach Dean Fabrizio said. “We were a little sluggish in practice, but the kids came out and played well. A lot of them were sick with colds, so we had to fight through that.”
Westover will be back in action after opening its season with a shutout loss to Lee County. The Patriots meet Jonesboro Friday night at Tara Stadium. The Cardinals are coming off a 35-6 setback to state power Sandy Creek.
Monroe got its offense going in a 34-0 victory over Terrell County. While the Tornadoes will enjoy a week off, coach Charles Truitt was happy with his team’s performance.
“We started off a little slow, but then we scored on some big plays,” Truitt said. “Our defense played really aggressive all night. The kid’s mindset was right. We’ve still got some problems to correct, but we played better.”
Bainbridge maintained its hold at No. 4 following a big victory over rival Early County. Bainbridge quarterback Elijah Tyler scrambled into the end zone from 12 yards out with 2:42 left to send the Bearcats to season-opening win.
The Bearcats will need another similar defensive effort against Cairo this weekend.
Fab 5 Football Poll
1. Lee County (2-0) — The Trojans flexed their muscles in a big victory over Crisp County, previously No. 5 in the Herald’s Fab 5 poll. Don’t look for Lee County to slow down anytime soon.
Next: vs. Crisp County, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
2. Westover (0-1) — The Patriots were open last weekend and have had some time to make adjustments and corrections. Expect a different group of Patriots this week.
Next: at Jonesboro, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
3. Monroe (1-1) — The Tornadoes seemed to get their offense going in a 34-0 victory over Terrell County last weekend. They will take two weeks to enjoy it before a big game on the road next week.
Next: at Bainbridge, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.
4. Bainbridge (1-0) — The Bearcats played strong defense in a big win over Early County. They will need a similar effort against a strong Cairo squad this week.
Next: vs. Cairo, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
5. Mitchell County (1-0) — The Eagles make their first appearance in the Fab 5 poll after an impressive victory over Albany High. Mitchell will play the first of three straight Class AA opponents starting with Pelham this week.
Next: at Pelham, Friday, 7:30 p.m.