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Friday, August 26, 2011

Herald High School Pigskin Preview

Turning the corner

Section D

Friday, August 26, 2011

T.J. Cromer • Westover

Photos by joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

EmManul Byrd • Albany High

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hether teams are trying to establish themselves and earn respect, or trying to defend a state championship, the game within the game is as much mental as it is physical for a few select high school football teams in Southwest Georgia — teams that will put in whatever hard work is needed to reach the next level on their journey and, ultimately, find success. — Please see 4-5D

Trey Puckett • DWS

Josh Cabrera • Lee County

Inside: Page 2D Herald Fab 5

Find out who starts in the Top 5 as The Herald’s sports staff ranks the area’s prep football teams in Southwest Georgia to begin the season.

Jesse Hicks • Dougherty

Pages 6-7D

Pages 8-9D

Albany High School is ready — make that beyond ready — to go from cellar dweller to the top of the mountain in the city, the region and the state.

An Albany Herald tradition — The Dynamite Dozen — continues once again with a look at the area’s Top 12 players coming into the 2011 season.

J.T. Edore • Westwood

More inside ...

Lee Co.......Pages 2-3D Albany ....Pages 6-7D Westover.....Pages 10-11D

DoCo.....Pages 12-13D Monroe........Pages 14-15D


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Friday, August 26, 2011

Herald High School Pigskin Preview

Herald Fab 5

The following is The Albany Herald’s first “Fab 5” poll of the year in which the sports staff selected — as we see it — the Top 5 teams to beat in Southwest Georgia coming out of the preseason.

1. Lee County ......... (0-0)

The Trojans held the No. 1 spot in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll longer than any other team last season, and open at No. 1 this year after an impressive 38-7 scrimmage win against a formidable Monroe team. Next: vs. Baconton, 7:30 p.m. today.

Trojans begin No. 1 — despite tons of turnover Gone is 2010 Herald Player of the Year Justin Walker, UGA signee Sanford Seay and a host of other weapons, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed down the Trojans’ high-powered offense at Lee County one bit. Mike Phillips

2. Westover............. (0-0)

The reigning city champions may just be good enough to make a run at the Region 1-AAA title in Octavia Jones’ second year as head coach, and they looked impressive in the preseason with a 13-6 win — on the road — against state-ranked Thomasville. Next: at No. 5 Mitchell County, 7:30 p.m. today.

3. Albany................ (0-0)

It’s a valid question: What are the Indians doing here? Forget about last year’s 2-8 season, with star QB Emmanul Byrd — and two Dynamite Dozen selections in Roscoe Byrd and Jontavious Morris on its roster — this could be the best Indians team in years. Next: vs. Dougherty, at Hugh Mills, 7 p.m. Saturday.

4. Seminole County... (0-0)

This is what you need to know about Seminole County: Star RB/DB and Herald Dynamite Dozen Chris Brown selection is back, along with the “Magnificent 7,” on what people in Donalsonville are calling possibly the most talented team in school history. Next: vs. Wesleyan, 7:30 p.m. today.

5. Mitchell County..... (0-0) J.B (A.K.A. Justin Scott-Wesley) is gone, but there is enough speed left on the Eagles’ roster to repeat as Region 1-A champs and make a deep run in the Class A state playoffs. Next: vs. No. 2 Westover, 7:30 p.m. today.

Teams eligible for poll: Albany, Monroe, Dougherty, Westover, Sherwood Christian Academy, Deerfield-Windsor, Terrell County, Terrell Academy, Pelham, Westwood, Mitchell County, Miller County, Bainbridge, Seminole County, Early County, Randolph-Clay, Randolph Southern, Southwest Georgia Academy, Southland, Americus-Sumter, Lee County, Worth County, Calhoun County and Baconton Charter. g EDITOR’S NOTE: The Albany Herald’s new “Fab 5” poll will be released each Tuesday during prep football season as part of our weekly “Prep Peek” package.

mike.phillips@albanyherald.com

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EESBURG — Nobody lost more than Lee County — nobody. How about 3,331 yards in the air and 39 TD passes from Justin Walker? Or Sanford Seay, who is now at Georgia, and his 1,105 receiving yards and 15 TDs? Walker, who set a Georgia single-game record for all classes with 591 passing yards against Warner Robins last year, was The Herald’s John Reynolds Player of the Year, and Seay was the People’s Choice Player of the Year by fans during a first-ever online voting contest. joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com And what about receiver James Terrell Lee County LB Thomas Wright, a Herald (58-788-13 TD), and running back Denzel Dynamite Dozen selection, could be the Eckles, who gave the Trojans that elusive difference maker for the Trojans this year. double threat as a runner or receiver, and combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense? spread offense that was ignited by Walker. They loaded up the bus at Lee County. Enter Matt Mears, a junior quarterback “Yeah,’’ said coach Dean Fabrizio with a who saw playing time as a sophomore early long pause. “That’s a lot of offense.’’ in the season during several one-sided Lee So what now? County wins. The Trojans, who have “As a sophomore he never had back-to-back got some playing time,’’ winning seasons in hisFabrizio said. “Anytime tory, return only three you lose a guy who threw starters on offense, and for almost 60 touchdowns just four on defense. and almost 6,000 yards in No problem. his career — you lose a lot. “Every year you’re going But two years ago when to lose some, and every we came in here and went year you are going to gain Baconton Lee County to the spread people were some,’’ linebacker and asking: ‘Can Justin do it?’ Trojans Charter Dynamite Dozen selection Now they’re asking the Thomas Wright said. “Last nWHAT: 2011 season opener for Lee. same thing about Matt. year, we had a great team. nWHEN: 7:30 p.m. today. “Matt’s got a lot of savvy. This year, we want to build nWHERE: Leesburg. He’s a smart kid who is off of that. We have guys able to make his reads. who may not have a lot of The key thing in our ofexperience, but they have the bodies and fense is to be able to make reads, and get the mentality to fill that void.’’ the ball to the right guy.’’ Lee County opened up the field and lit Please see Lee, Page 3D up the scoreboard last year with an electric

n Looking Ahead

at


Friday, August 26, 2011

3D

Lee Continued from 2D

The right guy could be Josh Cabrera, who was the team’s third-leading receiver as a freshman. He caught more than 500 yards worth of passes last year, and it’s impossible to put a ceiling on how many yards Cabrera will end up with in a fouryear career at Lee County, where they love to throw. “He’s a good player, and he plays a lot older than he is,’’ Fabrizio said. Mears will have a chance to get to know his receivers. With the exception of senior Drew Carr, they’re all young. Stephen Collier is a sophomore, and J. Q. Quimbly is just a freshman. The Trojans bring back only four players on defense, because cornerback Kenneth Hurley, a junior, has moved to running back, where he brings the tools to succeed. “He started at cornerback as a sophomore, and he’s got a lot of elusiveness and a lot of explosiveness,’’ Fabrizio said.

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

New Lee County QB Matt Mears has the challenging task of replacing 2010 Albany Herald Player of the Year Justin Walker. Fabrizio has a way of creating offense, and he has already turned the mentality around at Lee County, where the Trojans had won just seven total games in the previous four years before going 7-4 last season. “Last year, those seniors really instilled the mindset — the winning mindset — to work hard every day and never take a day off,’’ said senior Ryne Stickland, who

returns at center. “The year before that I believe we were bigger and faster, but last year we had a Fabrizio different attitude. Now it’s time to pass the torch to us. We have that mindset.’’ Strickland also believes in Lee County’s philosophy on offense. “From an offensive standpoint — with the offense we run — you don’t have to have big offensive linemen or fast receivers,’’ he said. “We can nickel-and-dime you to death.’’ The Trojans are going to spread the field and throw the ball, and they have faith in Mears. Some of the kids joke that he looks like Peyton Manning — well, at least facially. “I think he’s going to be a good quarterback,’’ Strickland said. “He got a lot of reps last year, and he’s a quick learner.’’ A lot of kids will have to step up for Lee County to make another run at the

playoffs, but the players believe they can. “I think we will be better than we were last year,’’ linebacker T.C. Carr said. “I think the defense will be better. Defense is all about having that dog mentality — that pit bulldog mentality. We all have that.’’ And they really don’t care about the doubters. “At Lee County we always have to prove ourselves to people,’’ Carr said. “People outside Lee County don’t think anything of us.’’ That’s why this season is so important, because last year’s emergence changed the way Lee County fans felt about this program. “Those guys last year definitely established a foundation,’’ said Fabrizio, who has seen the number of players double in the school’s eighth- and ninth-grade programs over the past two years. “They created a lot of excitement. It’s up to these guys to keep it going.’’ The players feel the same way. “We don’t want to be a onehit wonder,’’ Carr said.

Lee County’s 2011 season outlook g MASCOT: Trojans. g HEAD COACH: Dean Fabrizio (3rd season at Lee County, 4th

overall as head coach; 22-19 overall career record as head coach).

g 2010 RECORD: 7-4. g ASSISTANT COACHES: Andy Scott (def. coor.); Rhett

Grant (DBs/special teams); Condre Payne (DBs); Ed Reaves (DL); Mike Harville (QBs); Carey Metts (WRs); Rick Carr (OL); Kevin Pych (kickers). g RETURNING STARTERS: Ryne Stickland (Sr., OL); Zach Gardner (Sr., OL); Josh Cabrera (So., WR); Kenneth Hurley (Jr., DB/RB); Julius Cloud (Sr., DB); Andrew Stroud (Jr., WR/DB); Tra Crawford (Sr., DL); T.C. Carr (Sr., LB); Casey Hightower (Jr., DB); Austin Joiner (Jr., DB). g OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Matt Mears (Jr., QB); Drew Carr (Sr., WR); Stephen Collier (So., WR/QB); Devin Rogers (Sr., OL); Brady Jones (Sr., OL); Shabari Jones (So., OL); William Butler (Jr., DL); Chris Lockett (Jr., LB); Adam Flynn (Sr., DL); Colton Grove (Jr., DL).

2011 Lee County trojans schedule Today.................................. vs. Baconton Charter, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2..................................vs. Crawford County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9.......................................vs. Terrell County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23....................at Northside, Columbus, 7:30 p.m. ** Sept. 30...........................vs. Houston County, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 7 ................ at Northside, Warner Robins, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 14......................................... at Hardaway, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 21.................. at Thomas County Central, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 28..................................... vs. Bainbridge, 7:30 p.m. ** Nov. 4................................. vs. Warner Robins, 7:30 p.m. **

** denotes GHSA Region 1-AAAA game

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Friday, August 26, 2011

4D

Herald High School Pigskin Preview

r A e v l b o t a s ny e DWS W

Lee Co Westwood DoCo Six schools, one mission

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By Mike Phillips

urning the corner ... The cliché is as old and worn out as black-and-white TV and eight-track tapes, but it’s alive and well here — here on the high school football fields of Southwest Georgia, where it’s more than a cliché or quick-hit phrase. It’s a way of life. Or at least the way to a better life. Just ask them at Lee County, Albany High, Westover or Dougherty, where Xs and Os share the same blackboard with rainbows and the promise of a new beginning. Or ask the kids and coaches at Deerfield-Windsor and Westwood, where it isn’t about turning the corner to a better and brighter future, but learning how to negotiate the toughest corner in sports, the one that sits in “The Year After” neighborhood, where turning the corner means defending a title for the first time. Both corners come with more of a mental than physical challenge, but you can’t win without both, and coaches at these schools know it takes so much more — whether you are building from the ground up, or defending something that was just a dream a year ago.

mike.phillips@albanyherald.com

At Dougherty High, turning the corner isn’t a way of life. It is life to Jesse Hicks, who has all but vowed to lift the program not just to greatness, but back to greatness. “We’re the only city school to ever win a state Hicks (GHSA) football championship,’’ Hicks said. “We want to be great again.’’ Hicks has the road map. He turned the program around at Baldwin, where he took the football team from being also-rans to becoming a state power, and now he’s trying to do the same at Dougherty, where he preaches from a pulpit of self-confidence and self-esteem and promises to turn not only the football program — but the community’s perception of the program — around. “We want to bring pride back to the East Side,’’ Hicks said. “We want these kids to be successful not only on the football field but in the classroom and in life. That’s what we’re teaching. I know it can happen here.’’

Hicks had a rough start in his first season, going 2-8, but said last year was more like “Zero Year” than Year One. “The biggest difference this year is the attitude in the kids. We see it this year,’’ Hicks said. “I know we will be better. Last year the seniors left something to be desired when it came to attitude.’’ His kids believe that. “We know what people in Albany say about Dougherty,’’ said senior cornerback Amaud Ross, a returning starter. “People ask us: ‘What’s wrong with Dougherty High?’ We have to take that negative and turn it into a positive.’’ That’s the biggest hurdle for many programs. They face the same kind of negative feedback at Westover, where it may take a while to win the community over and have it warm up to the football program that has had only four winning seasons in its history — a school with a deep, rich and proud history in basketball. Octavia Jones took over last year and made memorable strides when his team won the city title by beating Dougherty, Monroe and Albany High. That success was the groundwork for this season.

“I think we have made strides in the community,’’ Jones said. “Every outsider I’ve talked to this year says they have noticed a change in the mentality of the guys. This offseason people are talking about football. And everyone who is Jones involved with this program is excited about this season. People are not just waiting for October and basketball season.’’ Hicks said the battle is everywhere. “The easiest thing is turning the kids around,’’ Hicks said. “The toughest thing is the community. Football is easy to sell to the kids. The biggest thing is to make the kids believe in themselves. We have to give our guys confidence. Winning is the cure-all for everything. If you turn around the players, they have to believe you. We want the community to believe in the team. I told our kids everywhere you go and every day, you’re selling Dougherty High.’’ Please see Mission, Page 5D

“I think we have made strides in the community. Every outsider I’ve talked to this year says they have noticed a change in the mentality of the guys. This offseason people are talking about football. And everyone who is involved with this program is excited about this season. People are not just waiting for October and basketball season.” Octavia Jones, Westover head coach entering his second season on how he feels his program is turning the corner and getting a school long known for basketball to now also be known for football


Friday, August 26, 2011

Mission Continued from 4D

Lee County grabbed the community last year when the Trojans, who had only five winning seasons in their history until last season, went 7-3 before getting knocked out in the playoffs. Three of their four losses were to state-ranked teams. Lee County had won a total of just seven games over the previous four years. “People are talking about football in Lee County now,’’ senior linebacker and 2011 Albany Herald Dynamite Dozen player Thomas Wright said. “They got on the bandwagon last year and we have to keep it going.’’ That’s the tough part at Lee, where third-year head coach Dean Fabrizio wants to not only turn the corner but stay there. Lee lost a ton of talent, but begins the season as The Herald’s No. 1 ranked team after making a statement with a 38-7 win against Monroe in a scrimmage. But turning the corner is more than wins and Fabrizio losses in Leesburg. “One of the biggest things is that our numbers are up in the eighth- and ninth-grade programs,’’ Fabrizio said. “We’ve doubled the kids who are now playing football. That’s the key to building a program.’’ Jones said his numbers are also up with his younger kids, and he believes once everyone buys into the new mentality at Westover, change will be a forgone conclusion. “We have the mentality that we expect to win, and that we want to win championships,’’ Jones said. “The kids believe that, and once you get the mentality right then you see it in the work ethic. They work harder in the weight room and in the offseason, and then you see it on the field.’’ Jones’ domino theory makes sense. In short, success breeds success. It’s just making the big move, first to a winning record, and then to a playoff spot and even on to a region title. No one knows how tough that can be better than Albany High, where the Indians have faced their own demons while trying to turn the corner and gain respect from the community. “No one ever expects Albany High to win, but we are changing that,’’ said coach Felton Williams, whose team starts the season as The Herald’s No. 3-ranked team. Williams Albany High had to overcome a unique situation two years ago when former coach

5D

“As a coach, you fear complacency. Every year you fear that, and you want your seniors to feel like leaders. You want them to feel the urgency to win. It takes all the guys to win it. ... It doesn’t happen (winning a title or winning in general) because you got a year older. You’ve got to work. You’ve got to prepare.” Allen Lowe, Deerfield head coach on his team turning a different kind of corner: defending a state title Reggie Mitchell left for Sherwood Christian Academy and took players with him. Mitchell didn’t just leave the cupboard bare, he ripped off the doors, took the plumbing in the kitchen and anything else he could grab. As a result, Williams was forced to start freshmen and sophomores because his senior stars were all at Sherwood. But now — two years later — those same freshmen and sophomores are juniors and seniors. They took a big step last year when they fielded the most competitive Albany High team in years. Their 2-8 record didn’t show how much progress the team had made. Mitchell won only two games in his three years as the head coach at Albany High, but last year’s team was much better than the record, and this year’s group has confidence in the team and the community. “I think when we start winning, the community will support us,’’ said Roscoe Byrd, a two-way lineman who is a Dynamite Dozen player for the second consecutive year. “And we’re going to win this year. Our coaches believe in us, and we believe in each other.’’ Part of that is the same philosophy Fabrizio, Hicks and Jones have at their schools — teaching the kids a new mentality, making them believe in themselves. Turning the corner is always a bigger mental battle than physical. Just ask the kids at Deerfield-Windsor and Westwood, where both programs went unbeaten and won GISA state titles a year ago. The biggest challenge is defending a title and turning a corner that comes along once in a blue moon. “We’ve got to battle other teams because they will get up to play us this year,’’ said Westwood coach Ross Worsham, whose team went 13-0 and won it all in GISA’s Class A. “But the biggest battle is within ourselves. We can’t get (complacent). We can never settle.’’ But complacency is always a factor, especially Worsham when teams return a lot of starters — as Westwood and DWS both

do — from unbeaten state championship teams. “You can’t come into the season thinking it’s going to be like last year,’’ said DWS defensive lineman Matt Miller, a senior and returning starter. “It’s hard to get out of that mindset, because it’s there. But you have to motivate yourself to work even harder to defend the title.’’ Or as DWS running back and Dynamite Dozen player Quentin Heard said: “We have to protect our title. We have to be closer and work harder to protect it. We don’t want anyone to take it away.’’ Both Worsham and DWS coach Allen Lowe know they have to find new and different ways to push their defending

champs. “As a coach, you fear complacency,’’ Lowe said. “Every year you fear that, and you want your seniors to feel like leaders. You want them to feel the urgency to win. It takes all the guys to win it.’’ Both teams are built Lowe like that — an all-for-one, one-for-all mentality. “You worry about someone getting cocky because we went 13-0 last year,’’ said Westwood linebacker Daniel Hays, who leads the Wildcats’ defense. “But I don’t think we have those kinds of kids on this team, and if anyone did get cocky I think the rest of the team would take care of it. If we didn’t, coach Worsham would.’’ Worsham believes in his kids. After all, they have already turned a couple of corners to get where they are today. “Three years ago when we started the season we hoped to win the game,’’ he said. “Now we have the attitude when we step onto the field that we expect to win the game.’’ That’s the corner every team wants to turn — the one that defines the program, year-in and year out. “It doesn’t happen (winning a title or winning in general) because you got a year older,’’ Lowe said. “You’ve got to work. You’ve got to prepare.’’


Friday, August 26, 2011

6D

Herald High School Pigskin Preview

Albany: It’s time to respect us A once-proud, respected and feared Albany High School football program has gone through its share of trials and tribulations in recent seasons, but those days are over, say the Indians, who are aiming to be one of the most surprising and dominant teams in all off Southwest Georgia in 2011. Mike Phillips

mike.phillips@albanyherald

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LBANY — Jontavious Morris may have said it better than anyone. “I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said Albany High's co-captain, whose cliché fits Albany's High's dilemma so well it might as well be written in green and orange. The kids who play football at AHS are just tired of hearing it. “We're tired of hearing how we can't win, how we don't have talent, or how we don't have discipline,” Albany quarterback Emmanul Byrd said. “People look at Albany High on the schedule and laugh and say, ‘That's a win.' We have to change that. “I now embrace it when people say those things. I love it. Go ahead and say it. We're going to change it. This is the year to change it. We're working hard to prove people wrong.” It's been a long climb back over the past two seasons at Albany High, where the program had to bounce back from a mass exodus two years ago when then-head coach Reggie Mitchell left the

“We’re tired of hearing how we can’t win, how we don’t have talent, or how we don’t have discipline. People look at Albany High on the schedule and laugh and say, ‘That’s a win.’ We have to change that. I now embrace it when people say those things. I love it. Go ahead and say it. We’re going to change it. This is the year to change it. We’re working hard to prove people wrong.” Emmanul Byrd, Albany High quarterback on the Indians’ mentality entering the 2011 season program to take the head coaching job at Sherwood Christian and took several players with him. The Indians saw their seniors and most talented players leave, and were forced to start freshmen and sophomores. Now those kids are juniors and seniors. “We've got seniors starting this year,” said Jeconiah Jackson, who leads a list of talented receivers.

“This is our senior class, and most of the team (is made up of) seniors.” The Indians bring back seven starters on offense and nine on defense, but that includes Morris and Roscoe Byrd, co-captains who start on both lines. They are the heart of Albany's team, and both are Herald Dynamite Dozen selections.

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

Albany High third-year head coach Felton Williams records the Indians’ practice sessions on his Apple iPad so he can later watch them and critique his team’s performance. It’s this kind of in-depth, Please see Albany, Page 7D next-level preparation that has the Indians feeling like it’s their year.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Albany Continued from 7D

“Those two have been co-captains for two years,” Albany coach Felton Williams said. “They're great players and great leaders, and both of them are honor students.” Not a bad foundation. There’s plenty to build on at Albany, where the Indians made huge strides a year ago. The team was much better than its 2-8 record, and everyone at Albany High knows it. “We lost four games where a couple of plays here or there change things and we win,” Williams said. “Those losses have made this team hungry. You could see it in the way they prepared in the offseason and the summer — the way they worked and the way they hit the weight room. “I think this is our year. Everything is falling into place as far as the kids being committed. All the intangibles are in place. Most of them are three-year starters. They think it's the year. They went into the spring and summer with that mentality that this is it.” It shows. “This has got to be the year,” Emmanul Byrd said. “We know what went wrong last year. We lost close games and we looked at those mistakes, and we know we can't make mistakes like that this year.” Emmanul Byrd grew at least two inches and put on a wave of muscle in the weight room. He's taller, stronger and looks more poised in the pocket. “I embraced the weight room,” he said. “I worked hard to get ready for this season, and I feel I'm a much better player than I was a year ago. I put everything on my shoulders.” He looked poised in a 42-0 win in a scrimmage against Kendrick, throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers and running for a TD in a little more than a half of action. “Yes, we are going to throw the ball,” Williams said. “We went to a lot of camps this summer, and

7D

Albany High’s 2011 season outlook g MASCOT: Indians. g HEAD COACH: Felton Williams (3rd season at Albany High

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School, 3rd overall as head coach, one as interim).

g 2010 RECORD: 2-8. g ASSISTANT COACHES: Mitchell Jenkins (defensive

coordinator/linebackers); Kenneth Taylor (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks); Archie Chatmon (defensive backs); Ryan Tomblin (running backs); Chadwick Pope (offensive line); Jessie Jackson (defensive line); Charles Chatmon (receivers); Grady Vance (receivers). g RETURNING STARTERS: Emmanul Byrd (Jr., QB); Roscoe Byrd (Sr., OL); Jontavious Morris (Sr., OL); Jeconiah Jackson (Sr., WR); Larry Sanford (Sr., WR); Rantiez Williams (Jr., WR); Tim Lewis (Sr., OL); Tyquis Smith (Sr., RB); Calvin Jackson (Sr., RB). g OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Andrico Carter (Jr., DB); Jauron Brown (Jr., DB).

2011 ALBANY HIGH INDIANS schedule Saturday..............vs. Dougherty, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3.................... vs. Westover, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10.................... vs. Monroe, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15.........vs. Randolph-Clay, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 ............... vs. Fitzgerald, at Hugh Mills, 7 p.m. ** Sept. 29...............vs. Berrien, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 6.....................................at Thomasville, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 21.............................. at Brooks County, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 28........ vs. Early County, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Nov. 4............................................... at Cook, 7:30 p.m. **

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** denotes GHSA Region 1-AA game

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

Albany High School’s Shaquille Mathis is tackled by Mykel Amour during Indians practice Monday. when we went to the Georgia camp Emmanul was the only junior invited to that camp out of the 15 quarterbacks there, and he held his own against them. “He has made a tremendous leap from last year. He grew two inches and got a lot stronger in the weight room. He's throwing the ball very well, and his

accuracy is much better.” Williams said he is deep and loaded with receivers, starting with Jackson, who is expected to be the top target this season. He also has Rantiez Williams, Larry Sanford and tight end Gerald Jenkins, who all caught TD passes in the scrimmage game against Kendrick. Andrico Carter is another experienced receiver who, like Rantiez Williams, has been starting since he was a freshman. Tyius Smith, who emerged as the team's top running back during the second half of the season last year, returns, and Williams said he expects Smith to rush for more than 1,000 yards this season. He showed his quickness the first time he touched the ball in the scrimmage against Kendrick, ripping off a 47-yard run. He lost his right shoe about 10 yards into the run, but just kept flying downfield. “I think this year's team will be better. We want it more, and we are more disciplined,” Smith said.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

8D

Dekoven Ware Terrell County nHeight: 6-0. nWeight: 220. nYear: Senior. nPosition: DE/TE. nStats: Had nine sacks and 56 tackles last year as a junior, and he can also play tight end and running back. nWhy he’s here: Ware is a true athlete, and — in an era of one-sport stars — he excels both on the basketball court, where he averaged a double-double and helped lead the Greenwave to the state title game last year, and on the football field, where he is one of the best pass rushers in Southwest Georgia and a leader as well.

Roscoe Byrd Albany High nHeight: 6-2. nWeight: 314. nYear: Senior. nPosition: OL/DL. nStats: Led the team in blocking and graded out at better than 90 percent as a junior, and also made more than 60 tackles as a defensive lineman. nWhy he’s here: This is his second season as a co-captain of the team, and he is also the co-captain of the basketball team. Byrd, a three-year starter, is a load on either side of the line and leads the team in every way possible, as a pass rusher and inside tackle and as one of the team’s best blockers on the offensive line. He’s also an honor student.

Jontavious Morris Albany High nHeight: 6-1. nWeight: 300. nYear: Senior. nPosition: OL/DL. nStats: One of the leaders in blocking on offense, grading out at better than 90 percent. He is also a force on the defensive line, where he had more than 60 tackles last season. nWhy he’s here: This is his second season as the co-captain of the football team along with Roscoe Byrd, and he is also the co-captain of the basketball team. Morris, a three-year starter, is a leader on and off the field and one of the top linemen in this part of Georgia, whether he is stopping the run or making holes for his own running backs. He’s also an honor student.

Dozen Hakeem Porter monroe HIGH nHeight: 6-4. nWeight: 310. nYear: Junior. nPosition: OL. nStats: Was a leader on the line as a sophomore along with Georgia Tech signee Bryan Chamberlain last year, and graded out at better than 90 percent with 20 pancake blocks for the season. nWhy he’s here: He would be a Division I recruit right now, but he is only a junior. Porter, whose nickname is “Wal-Mart” because he is as big as a department store, is one of the top linemen in Southwest Georgia, big and physical with good feet and quickness. And he is one of the team’s leaders as just a junior.

Devine Noel Monroe High nHeight: 5-11. nWeight: 210. nYear: Senior. nPosition: RB. nStats: Combined for more than 1,000 yards running and passing last year at quarterback, and now moves to running back. nWhy he’s here: Noel is one of the most versatile players in all of Southwest Georgia and is expected to excel at running back, where he will be a weapon as a runner and receiver — with the threat to throw an option pass. He gives Monroe’s offense a new dimension and can be an explosive, do-everything Percy Harvin-type player.

Kenneth Towns Westover HIGH nHeight: 6-1. nWeight: 200. nYear: Senior. nPosition: Receiver. nStats: Led Westover in receiving as a junior with 424 yards on 24 receptions. He scored three touchdowns. nWhy he’s here: This could be a breakout season for the speedy Towns, who should grow as a receiver as Westover’s offense improves this season. He has already been offered a scholarship by Alabama at Birmingham.


Friday, August 26, 2011

9D

Christopher Green Westover High

Thomas Wright Lee County High

Ja’Kyari Jenkins Mitchell County

nHeight: 6-0. nWeight: 265. nYear: Senior. nPosition: Defensive tackle. nStats: Led the team with 97 tackles, including 25 for losses and five sacks. Also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. nWhy he’s here: Green all but demands a double team every time he plays because of his strength and quickness and nose for the ball. He is one of the top linemen in Southwest Georgia and was listed on GHSF Daily’s preseason Class AAA All-State list. He has offers from Georgia State, Tennessee State, Troy and North Carolina A&T.

nHeight: 5-10. nWeight: 220. nYear: Senior. nPosition: Linebacker. nStats: Led Lee with more than 100 tackles as a sophomore before sitting out most of last season with a knee injury, but he’s back at full speed. nWhy he’s here: Wright is the heart of Lee County’s defense and is expected to lead the team in tackles again. He is fast and tenacious and one of the brightest football players in the state. He carries 4.0 GPA in the classroom and has the same kind of football savvy on the field.

nHeight: 5-8. nWeight: 150. nYear: Senior. nPosition: CB/WR. nStats: Led the team with eight interceptions as a junior and was one of the team’s leading receivers, catching 20 passes for 226 yards and four touchdowns. nWhy he’s here: Mitchell coach Dondrial Pinkins, who starred at South Carolina, says Jenkins is a Division I cornerback who can fly and make big plays. Jenkins will also play WR at Mitchell and should be the team’s top target.

Dozen Chris Brown Seminole County nHeight: 6-1. nWeight: 185. nYear: Senior. nPosition: RB/DB. nStats: Brown gained more than 1,400 yards and scored 26 touchdowns as a sophomore. He would have been a Dynamite Dozen selection a year ago but suffered a hip injury in August and missed most of the season. nWhy he’s here: Brown is one of the most exciting backs in Southwest Georgia, and now that he is back at full strength there is little doubt he will gain more than 1,000 yards for a talented Seminole team that has a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs.

T.T. Barber Miller County nHeight: 6-0. nWeight: 200. nYear: Senior. nPosition: QB/LB. nStats: Gained more than 1,000 yards rushing last year at running back and now moves to quarterback, where he will still run the ball but throw it as well. nWhy he’s here: He could have been a Dynamite Dozen player as one of the top linebackers in the area, but makes it easily as a big, strong, fast quarterback who can run and throw. He is a leader and could combine for 1,500 to 1,800 yards this season.

Quentin Heard Deerfield nHeight: 5-9. nWeight: 180. nYear: Senior. nPosition: RB/LB. nStats: Gained 943 yards on 130 carries (7.25 yards a carry) last year, and also caught 13 passes for 135 yards and rushed for nine TDs and caught passes for four more. And he had more than 300 yards in returns (punts, fumbles and interceptions). nWhy he’s here: He is one of the most versatile and talented backs in the area and could gain more than 1,000 yards this season. He gained 92 yards on just nine carries and scored a TD in DWS’ opener against Sherwood in a little more than two quarters.


10D

Friday, August 26, 2011

Herald High School Pigskin Preview

Westover sets goals sky high „„ Westover won three games and the city championship last year when first-year coach Octavia Jones took over the program, and now — with 17 starters back at various positions — the Patriots enter the season with high expectations.

Mike Phillips

mike.phillips@albanyherald.com

A

LBANY — There’s nothing like a breath of fresh air — even when it comes a year later. Well, especially when it comes a year later. “The difference this year is I can breathe a little better,’’ said Octavia Jones, who enters his second year as the head football coach at Westover. Jones knew it would be a long climb when he took over the program in Northwest Albany, where the Patriots have had only four winning seasons in their history. OK, Westover didn’t have a winning season last year. But the Patriots did win the city crown, beating all three city rivals — their only three wins. The kids and coaches — and even principal William Chunn — celebrated like kids in a candy store when they beat Monroe on the final day of the regular season to take home the title. Now they want so much more. “I want to be great,’’ said defensive tackle Chris Green, a Herald Dynamite Dozen selection. “I believe we can be great.’’ That’s what Jones wants — another leap, possibly a giant one. And if anyone wanted to see the difference in the landscape at Westover, all they had to do was take a look at a 13-6 scrimmage victory against Thomasville in Thomasville two weeks ago. Last year, Westover lost the same scrimmage, 32-0. “I think we will be a lot better,’’ said receiver Kenneth Towns, another Dynamite Dozen selection who could have a breakout season. He caught 24 passes for 424 yards last year, but those numbers could soar if Westover’s offense

“I want success to come right now. My mentality has spread to the kids, and they’re eager for success as well. We won three games in the city and won the city championship last year. Our expectations have grown. We want to win a region championship.” Octavia Jones, second-year Westover head coach on his desire to lead his team above and beyond what they accomplished in Year 1 gets into high gear. Westover is trying to pick a quarterback, and Jones may split time between newcomer T.J. Cromer, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior who came over from Tift County, where he was a backup quarterback as a sophomore, and T.J. Wester, a 6-1, 185-pound junior who has moved up from the JV. “Wester is more suited for the run,’’ Jones said. “Cromer has a better touch as a passer. We like them both.’’ The T.J.’s will run an offense that has a much better line and features tailback Dalviness Greene, who gained more than 800 yards last year as a sophomore. “I think he can rush for 1,000 yards with the team we have this year,’’ Jones said. The Patriots bring back seven on offense and return a whopping 10 players, including Green, a preseason All-State player, on defense. He made 97 tackles, including 25 for losses, last year and also recorded five sacks. There’s also linebacker Don Mills, a junior who made the All Region 1-AAA team and The Herald All-Area team last season. “Don went to the national Under

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

T.J. Wester is just one of two T.J.’s the Patriots will have under center this season as the junior will split time with the team’s other T.J., junior T.J. Cromer, who transferred from Tift. Armour camp this summer and was rated as one of the top 100 athletes in the country,’’ Jones gushed of Mills. “We’re looking for a big year from him. We had three players go to Under Armour camps and get named to the Top 100: Don Mills, Chris Green and (tight end/defensive end) Josh Burton.’’

Green and Mills will lead what Jones hopes is one of the top defenses in the region. “We’re going to hang our hat on our defense,’’ Jones said. “And our offensive line is going to be a key for us. We feel we will be better because of the play on our line.’’ Please see Westover, Page 11D


Friday, August 26, 2011

11D

Westover High School’s 2011 season outlook MASCOT: Patriots. HEAD COACH: Octavia Jones (2nd season at Westover, 2nd as head coach overall). 2010 RECORD: 3-7. ASSISTANT COACHES: Kenyatta Phillips (associate head coach/special teams); Bryan Brown (defensive coordinator/linebackers); Derrick Greene (offensive coordinator/receivers); Brian Simon (defensive tackles); Coleman Camp (defensive ends/special teams); Cleatus Hopkins (offensive line); Calvin Poole (running backs); Nikki Carlisle (defensive line); Lewis Smith (defensive backs). g RETURNING STARTERS: Kenneth Towns (Sr., DB/WR); Chris Green (Sr., DT/OL); Dalviness Greene (Jr., RB/DB); Teven Hale (Sr., OL/DL); McKenny Martin (Sr., FB/DL); Derrick Akins (Sr., TE/DE); Devin Swan (Jr., OL/DL); Shannon Saunders (So., LB/RB); Don Mills (Jr., LB); Freddie Stephens (Sr., LB); De’Marcus Holloway (Sr., DL/OL); Kerry Bryd (Sr., DE/TE); Jamal Childs (Sr., DB/WR); Octerius Jackson (Sr., WR/DB). g OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Tarturino Wester (Jr., QB/DE); Taljon Cromer (Jr., QB); Jamie Roberts (Jr., OL/DL); Quentin Johnson (Sr., OL); Terry Wiley (Jr., P/K); Nytrellis Ross (Jr., DB/WR); Anthony Hill (Jr., DB/WR); Joshua Burton (Jr., DE/TE); Deen Worley (Jr., WR); Shombie Williams (Jr., OL/LB). g g g g

2011 WESTOVER high SCHOOL PATRIOTS schedule Today....................................................................................... at Mitchell County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3............................................................................. at Albany, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9.....................................................................vs. Bainbridge, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16........................................................................................ at Early County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24..............................................................vs. Dougherty, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Sept. 29........................................................ vs. Worth County, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 14............................................................ vs. Crisp County, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 21......................................................................... vs. Cairo, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 28............................................................................ at Americus-Sumter, 7:30 p.m. ** Nov. 4...................................................................... vs. Monroe, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** ** denotes GHSA Region 1-AAA game

Westover Continued from 10D

Jones said he is also counting on Jamal Childs, a senior who will play strong safety, Derrick Akins, a senior who will play defensive end, and sophomore Shannon Saunders, who was an impact player at linebacker as a freshman, to lead the defense. “Childs and Akins will also provide leadership,’’ Jones said, and then added that Saunders, although young, will be a major factor. “He’s a football player. He can do anything on a football field.’’ Westover’s defense looked good at times last year. The Patriots went 3-7, and in their three wins the defense gave up a total of only 25 points. “I think we’ll be a lot better this year,’’ Green said. “I think we worked too hard not to show it.’’ That’s part of the problem at Westover — the Patriots need to show how much better they can be in just one year. Jones believes his defensive and offensive lines are much better and that they will prove it on Friday nights. Seniors Teven Hale (5-10, 280), Devin Swan (5-10, 220) and Quentin Johnson (6-6, 360), and juniors Jamie Roberts (6-1, 330) and Shombie Williams (5-9, 230) make up Westover’s starting offensive

line, but Green also will see time there as well. Jones calls Roberts “J-Roc” and says, “He will be the rock on our offensive line.’’ The feeling at Westover is that everyone will be better on this team. “There’s a big difference this year. We’ve had them for one year, one full cycle with us,’’ Jones said of his players. “They know what to expect from us. They have confidence in us, and we have confidence in them.” Another hurdle Westover cleared was simply lining up with the same timetable as the other schools in Georgia. Jones, the former boys and girls track & field coach at his alma mater, Monroe, was busy last spring leading his girls team to their second consecutive state title and leading his boys, who won the state title the year before, to a state runner-up finish. He didn’t get to Westover until June and had to play catch-up in every possible way to get his team on the field last autumn. “It’s so much easier this year,’’ Jones said. “We’ve been able to take our time and not rush. It’s made a big difference. Everyone knows what we want. They know what our expectations are. Our goal is to win a championship.’’ That’s the leap they want to make at Westover, and the Patriots may have enough returning starters and enough talent to make a run at the Region 1-AAA title — and possibly a run in the playoffs. “This team is so much different, so

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

Last summer, Octavia Jones was just leaving his post as track & field coach at Monroe before coming to Westover to take over the football team, meaning he had very little time to prepare for the season, which ended with a 3-7 record. This season, he’s had a whole year to prepare. much better than a year ago,’’ Green said. “We all want to win this year.’’ That’s Jones’ philosophy, and he doesn’t sugar-coat what his expectations are this season. “I want success to come right now,’’ he

said. “My mentality has spread to the kids, and they’re eager for success as well. We won three games in the city and won the city championship last year. Our expectations have grown. We want to win a region championship.’’

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12D

Friday, August 26, 2011

Herald High School Pigskin Preview

Dougherty: Stronger, faster and more prepared „„ Dougherty head football coach Jesse Hicks believes he can bring the glory days back to the school, and as he enters his second year, the program has a new look and a lot of youth who are ready to turn things around.

“We had some guys in camp (this summer) and they wanted to be individuals. They are no longer with us. If you want to be an individual, they’ve got golf and tennis.”

Mike Phillips

mike.phillips@albanyherald.com

A

LBANY — It's a new season at Dougherty High, new hope, new promise and a new beginning. Just don't mention last year's 2-8 season. “When I think about 2-8, I get mad. I get frustrated. I get (ticked),” said Dougherty senior Camereon Williams, who starts on both sides of the line for the Trojans. “And we have no one to blame but ourselves.” Sure, they're angry about 2-8, but they're even more determined to change it. “That 2-8 is a chip on our shoulder,” said center Dominique Bryant, another senior with a mission this year. “To know that you were one of the worst teams in Dougherty history and to know we went 0-6 in the region. We're going to change that.” That's the idea at Dougherty, where the Trojans have had some tough going in recent years. They've had just one winning record (6-5 in 2008) in the past five seasons since going 13-2 and playing for the Class AAA state title in 2005. That's why Jesse Hicks showed up last year — to resurrect Dougherty's program back to greatness. Hicks talks about pride and passion and pushes his kids on the football field and in the classroom — to be great in both environments, to succeed. Hicks, who turned Baldwin into a state power before showing up in Albany to take over at Dougherty last year, has no doubt the Trojans can be great again. He's not crazy about being 2-8 but understands the road back to the glory days is going to be bumpy, calling last year “Zero Year” and talking about how this season is really his first full year with his kids. “We have had them for a full cycle and you can tell the difference,” Hicks said. “You can tell the difference in the weight room and you can tell the difference in the attitude. That's the biggest difference this year — attitude. “We're stronger and faster and mentally we're better prepared,” Hicks added. "You win football games in the offseason.” The Dougherty kids couldn't wait. “We got started on Nov. 8,” said cornerback/receiver Amaud Ross, a senior who is

Jesse Hicks, Dougherty head football coach on taking things up a notch after last season’s 2-8 record that Hicks called unacceptable

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

Freshman running back Demetrius Reed, who is trying to help his team up the ante from last season when Dougherty finished 2-8, is part of a youth movement for the Trojans this year. He will share the backfield with freshman QB Willie Jones. a leader on defense. Hicks’ kids started working out on their own, hitting weights and getting ready for this season just five days after the last game of the season. “They started five days after we lost to Monroe,” Hicks said. “I told them, you've got five days and then we're going to get

back at it.” The kids wanted to get ready. And when they came back this summer they came back as a closer unit and more determined with a new resolve — to succeed on and off the field. “Last year I felt we took a lot of things for granted,” Williams said. “We weren't

a team. Our hearts didn't beat as one. We had incidents where people wanted to do their own thing, and they got in trouble at school and in the classroom. We don't want that to happen again. We're a different team now.” Williams and Ross emerged as two of the leaders, players who want to pick up their teammates. “If we want to win ball games we have to be leaders,” Ross said. “We have to show them how to work hard and have the right attitude and drive to win. We don't want another 2-8 season.” It could be Dougherty's greatest motivation. “That 2-8 stung. That stung real bad,” Bryant said. “You go around Albany, and you heard about it.” Dougherty played much better than 2-8, and was in several games, including the season opener against Albany High, which had to come back all night to beat the Trojans, and needed two last-second field goals to win the game. Albany High missed the first would-be game-winning field goal, but there was a Dougherty penalty on the play, and Daniel Casteneda nailed the second field goal attempt with no time on the clock to beat Dougherty, 16-14. Please see Dougherty, Page 13D


Friday, August 26, 2011

Dougherty Continued from 12D

Dougherty lost to Crisp County, 28-26, and dropped a heartbreaker to Worth County, 23-20. Both of those teams went to the playoffs. Give Dougherty 10 points and the Trojans would have gone 5-5 and probably landed a playoff spot. Hicks comes back this year with 15 seniors, but he has injected new blood into the program with both youth and some experimentation with kids who are proven athletes but have not played football. He’s starting freshmen at quarterback, running back and safety, and believes one of the best players on the team is sophomore Demario Barney, a strong safety Hicks predicts will become a Division I prospect before he leaves Dougherty. He also has high hopes for receiver Tavares Nelson, who caught a 40-yard pass (the biggest play of the scrimmage) against Central Macon in a scoreless scrimmage last week. Nelson is a basketball player who had never played football. The youth movement features Willie Jones, a freshman quarterback who looks and throws like a much older player, quick-back Demetrius Reed, a freshman who will be Dougherty’s go-to running

13D back, and Robert Hicks, a freshman who will start at safety in a secondary that will be led by Ross, a senior who is Dougherty’s shutdown guy. Jones has a long list of receivers, including Kenneth Johnson, Kendall Hicks and Madaraius McWorter, a junior. There’s youth everywhere. Alfred Brown, a sophomore, is the other running back. “We played with everybody in the first half last year,’’ Hicks said. “We just didn’t finish games.’’ Hicks said last year’s team lacked leadership, but he believes the kids who stayed in the program know what it will take, and physically Hicks wants to win games up front, and feels his team’s biggest strength is right there. “I think our offensive and defensive lines will be two of our biggest assets,’’ Hicks said. “And we’re better skillwise. I really feel good about this team, and I like the way they compete. When we have 1-on-1 or 3-on-3 drills, every drill we have is a competition. They go after each other.’’ Williams (6-1, 250) and Bryant (5-11, 260) lead the offensive line that includes sophomore Cedric Parker (6-5, 340) and Brian Bailey (6-2, 280), who has the best nickname on the team. They call him “TV Guide.’’ The defensive line is led by nose guard Malcolm Barney (6-1, 340) and defensive end Shaqual McKind. Darius Carter,,

Dougherty High School’s 2011 season outlook g MASCOT: Trojans. g HEAD COACH: Jesse Hicks (2nd season at Dougherty, 13th season overall as head coach;

72-71 career coaching record).

g 2010 RECORD: 2-8. g ASSISTANT COACHES: Robert Cummings (offensive coordinator); Corey Joyner (defen-

sive coordinator); Kareem Sanders (offensive line); Kawaski Teemer (running backs); Dennis Davis (receivers); Jomaski Ward (quarterbacks); Donald Poole (defensive line); Rico Gibson (linebackers). g RETURNING STARTERS: Amaud Ross (Sr., DB/WR); Camereon Williams (Sr., OL); Dominique Bryant (Sr., C); Darius Carter (Sr., OL/DL); Kenneth Johnson (So., WR). g OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Willie Jones (Fr., QB); Demetrius Reed (Fr., RB); Malcolm Barney (Sr., DT); Demario Barney (So., LB); Josh Fuller (Sr., DB).

2011 DOUGHERTY high SCHOOL TROJANS schedule Saturday............................................................................ vs. Albany, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2................................................................. vs. Mitchell County, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9................................................................................................... at Clarkston, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16.....................................................................................at Wilkinson County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24...................................................... at Westover, at Hugh Mills Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ** Sept. 30...................................................................................... at Crisp County, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 7................................................................ vs. Cairo, at Hugh Mills Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 14................................................................................. at Americus-Sumter, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 20............................................... vs. Worth County, at Hugh Mills Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 28........................................................................ vs. Monroe, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** ** denotes GHSA Region 1-AAA game McGary Casseus and Travious Wester lead the linebackers, while Ross, Barney and Kentravious McKenzie and Josh Fuller lead the secondary. And it’s a group effort at Dougherty, where it’s all about the team. “We had some guys in camp (this summer) and they wanted to be individuals,’’ Hicks said. “They are no longer with us. If you want to be an individual they’ve got golf and tennis.’’ Hicks wants to lift the team as a whole, and lift the community as well. “It is like a brotherhood,’’ Ross said. “This is a close team, a family, and we want to win as a family, together. I definitely think we can make a run in the playoffs this year. We have to bounce back YOUTH, JR. HIGH & ADULT HELMETS FREE MOUTHPIECE with the purchase of helmet

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ABOVE: Dougherty second-year head coach Jesse Hicks came to Albany after turning Baldwin County into a state power. But Year 1 with the Trojans didn’t go exactly as planned as Dougherty finished 2-8 — a ship Hicks has vowed to right in Year 2. RIGHT: Freshman quarterback Willie Jones, who has shown the poise of a player much older in preseason practice, will be in charge of the offense this season.

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from last year, but we know this is a different team.’’ Hicks believes once his team turns it around on the field, the community will embrace the program. His kids know the answer is in winning. “The community hasn’t had a lot to cheer about,’’ Williams said. “We’ve got to bring wins back to the east side. We’ve got to bring pride back to the east side. Once you get everyone in the community excited, then it’s really going to be fun for you — fun for everyone.’’ They believe this is the year to make that move. “When we get one win under our belt, we are going to get rolling,’’ Hicks said. “Winning cures everything.’’

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14D

Friday, August 26, 2011

Herald High School Pigskin Preview

Watch out SW Georgia — Monroe’s mad „„ Monroe has a new quarterback, a new, versatile running back and 16 returning starters who are bitter, angry and hungry to avenge last year's 4-6 season that included four tough losses in the fourth quarter.

Mike Phillips

mike.phillips@albanyherald.com

A

LBANY — Four. They can just write the number on the blackboard at Monroe and not say another word. The kids know what it means, they know all too well. No, it's not Monroe's 4-6 record. It's four games the Tornadoes would like to forget. “It was hard,” Monroe coach Charles Truitt said. “We lost four games in the fourth quarter — four games in which we led in the fourth quarter. You look at those games and feel we should have won those

games. You don't forget that.” Those games linger. “It was a long, long offseason,” said Herald Dynamite Dozen selection Hakeem Porter, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman. “We lost those close games last year, and everyone wanted to get this season started. We worked hard in the offseason to get ready. This year we have to pull out the close games.” Porter will be a big part of that. Even though he's a junior, Truitt is expecting his top offensive lineman to lead on and off the field. “We didn't finish games last year,” Truitt said. “It comes down to leadership, and that's where we want to see the difference this year. We want these kids to be leaders. We've asked these kids to be leaders, not just the seniors, but the juniors, too.” The message came immediately after the final game last season — a loss to rival Westover, which secured the city

championship by beating Monroe, 28-18. “They were upset after we lost to Westover,” Truitt said. “I told them: ‘It's simple! Finish it off!’ The difference in last year's team and the team we had two years ago that went to the playoffs is that the seniors on that (playoff team) would not let their teammates down in the fourth quarter.’ “The seniors last year didn't finish. You have to have leadership.” Truitt saw some of the new leadership rise over the summer. “You could tell by the way they worked in the summer,” he said. “They were in the weight room every day, and my offensive lineman went over to Albany State and ran the sand dunes on their own this summer. They did that two, three times a week.” Monroe has enough talent coming back to make a statement, and the attitude on the team may carry the Tornadoes a long way. Plus, the kids are still mad over what

happened last year. “We're hungry, real hungry,” said Terevious Hudson, Monroe's leading receiver. “We have come a long way since last year. Last year, we had guys who gave up too quickly. That's not going to happen this year.” Monroe had trouble scoring in the red zone, and even more trouble scoring in the red zone late in the game last year. Truitt has changed his offense, and the changes should make Monroe much more explosive. As a freshman last year, Charles Stafford showed flashes of brilliance when he started for quarterback Devine Noel and threw for more than 200 yards in the 32-6 win against Southeast Macon. He is now a sophomore who will take over at quarterback this season. Noel, a talented and versatile player who can run, throw or catch, moves to running back, where he gives Truitt multiple options. Please see Monroe, Page 15D

Monroe head coach Charles Truitt, who is entering his eighth season as the leader of the Tornadoes, gave an impassioned speech after last year’s season-ending loss to city rival Westover — and it appears to have worked. Truitt says his players have been hitting the weight room and the sand dunes at ASU the entire offseason and are coming in with a chip on their shoulders as big as Hugh Mills Stadium.

“We didn’t finish games last year. It comes down to leadership, and that’s where we want to see the difference this year.” Charles Truitt, Monroe head coach lamenting last year’s disappointing 4-6 finish when — had the Tornadoes finished four games they led in the fourth quarter — should’ve been 8-2

joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com


Friday, August 26, 2011

15D

Monroe High School’s 2011 season outlook g MASCOT: Tornadoes. g HEAD COACH: Charles Truitt (8th season at Monroe, 10th overall as head coach; 40-37 career

record at Monroe; 49-48 career record overall).

g 2010 RECORD: 4-6. g ASSISTANT COACHES: Jesse Hunt (linebackers); Billy Clanton (quarterbacks); Travis

Lockhart (offensive line); Derick Battle (offensive line); Clifford Wooden (defensive line); Scott Hall (defensive backs); Jimmy King (defensive backs). g RETURNING STARTERS: Devine Noel (Sr., RB); Hakeem Porter (Jr., OL); Anthony Smith (Jr., LB); Jawaski Randle (Jr., DB); Ernest Davis (Jr., DB); Charles Stafford (So., QB); Vontrell McMillan (Sr., DE); Derell Price (Sr., DT); Marcus Coe (Jr., C); Terevious Hudson (Jr., WR). g OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Erron Grant (Sr., DB); Tim McCray (So., DE); Derrick Adams (So., DB); Cortez Banks (Jr., OL); Demetrius Jordan (So., OL); Mesean Lovitt (Jr., OL); Kevin Williams (Jr., WR); Keonte Franklin (Jr., WR); Brenton Truitt (Fr., RB).

2011 Monroe high SCHOOL TornadoeS schedule

Photos by joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com

LEFT: Monroe head coach Charles Truitt called sophomore QB Charles Stafford “the best” young signal caller he’s ever had. RIGHT: Hakeem Porter, nicknamed “Wal Mart,” is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman who plans to protect Stafford, open holes and blow defenses off the line this year.

Monroe Continued from 14D

Noel, a Dynamite Dozen selection, combined for more than 1,000 yards last season passing and running, and will be an even bigger threat now that he will be the featured running back. “Devine Noel will be more of a slot back and receiver for us,” Truitt said. “It opens up our offense. I think he is going to have a big year. With Noel playing that position, we're hoping we can keep teams off balance.” Truitt believes the ceiling is high for Stafford, who — at 6-2 and 210 pounds — is a beauty. “I've been associated with a lot of quarterbacks who went on to college and were successful there, but at this point in his career, he's the best I've been around,” Truitt said. “Nothing fazed him as a freshman.” Truitt then added: “He is so accurate. He throws a very catchable ball, and he is bigger this year. He grew a couple of inches and added 20 pounds.” Monroe wants to put the ball in the air and Hudson, who caught 27 passes for 675 yards and six touchdowns in 2010, could have a monster season playing catch with Stafford, who should have time to throw behind a pretty solid offensive line. Porter, who will be a Division I prospect next season as a senior, has one of the best nicknames in Southwest Georgia. They call him “Wal-Mart,” because he is the size of the department store. “Wal-Mart” leads the way on a formidable offensive line that includes center Demetrius Jordan, a 6-2, 300-pound sophomore, and juniors Marcus Coe (5-9, 250), Mesean Lovitt

(6-0, 250) and Cortez Banks (6-0, 215). The offensive line is made up of underclassmen, but that's Monroe's strength. Almost all the top players are juniors, including Monroe's two top defensive players: linebacker Anthony Smith, who led the team with 98 tackles, including three sacks and five for losses last year, and cornerback Ernest Davis, who led the region with nine interceptions last year as a sophomore. The Tornadoes return nine defensive starters, including Jawaski Randle, a junior cornerback, and senior defensive end Vontrell McMillian. “This could be one of the better defenses we've had here,” Truitt said. "This junior class is special.” But it's not just talent, it's an attitude that has the kids believing at Monroe. “They're hungry this year,” Truitt said. “They are used to being in the playoffs. Last year left a bad taste in their mouths. I told them they had to step up their game this year if they wanted to get to the playoffs. Last year has motivated this team to work harder and play better.” Those four fourth-quarter losses have hung around, haunting this program. “We don't want that same letdown we had last year,” Smith said. “We still have that bad taste in our mouth, and we want to get rid of it. That's what we were thinking about this summer when we were working out and getting ready for the season. We wanted to show leadership (this summer). Last year, we were lacking leadership, but that's not going to happen this year.” Hudson seconded that statement. “I remember that last game,” he said. “We walked out of there with our heads down. I don’t want that to happen again. We've been working hard to get ready for the season. It's not going to be like last year.”

Today.................................................................. vs. Terrell County, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2..................................................................................at Northeast, Macon, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10..........................................................................vs. Albany, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16............................................................. vs. Brooks County, at Hugh Mills 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23...................................................................... vs. Cairo, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Sept. 30.......................................................................... at Americus-Sumter, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 7......................................................................................at Worth County, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 21..................................................................................... at Crisp County, 7:30 p.m. ** Oct. 28.................................................................at Dougherty, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** Nov. 4.................................................................... at Westover, at Hugh Mills, 7:30 p.m. ** ** denotes GHSA Region 1-AAA game


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