The first battle in the fight for Albany bragging rites is set for Saturday at Hugh Mills Stadium when the Westover Patriots (3-2) square off with the Dougherty High Trojans (2-2). Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Westover is coming off a disappointing 20-10 loss to Crisp County, while the Trojans had a week off after shutting down Worth County 20-0 on Sept. 18 behind the efforts of Ezekiel Knowles and Sharoski Griffin.
The matchup will pit Patriot quarterback and Division-1 prospect Rashad Jackson, against Charles Flowers’ Trojan defense. Jackson had 150 yards passing in the loss to Crisp County. As much trouble as his arm can cause, his feet can hurt you, too. Jackson has twice rushed for more than 100 yards and before Friday’s loss, the only other Patriot defeat came with him on the sidelines in an 18-7 defeat to Mitchell County on Sept. 11.
The Dougherty High secondary of Samori Allen, Jerolde Byrd and Marcus Williams could be the key in determining the outcome.
The Trojan offense has been sporadic. Arabian Williams had a 200-plus yard night in a 32-14 win over Kendrick, but then got choked down by Early County the next week. Knowles and Griffin carried the team over Worth County, and Flowers’ defense recorded its first shutout of the season.
With a 1-0 region mark, the Trojans are in a three-way tie for first place in 1-AAA with Peach County 4-0 (1-0) and Cairo 2-2 (1-0), which topped Monroe in 10-7 thriller last week. This year more than ever, the city champion may have the inside track to a playoff birth.
The Tornadoes face Peach County on Friday. A loss in that contest would drop Monroe to 1-2 in region play, and open the door for the winner of Saturday’s contest. If Dougherty is victorious, the Trojans will remain tied for the lead. A Patriot victory could boost them back to the top, or into second place. Going 1-2 in the region this early would be a big hill for Westover to climb with remaining contest against Cairo, Peach County, and Monroe.
In 2008 the Trojans won the matchup 28-13 and the Patriots finished the season with a 2-4 region record and 0-2 against DHS and Monroe. That game and victory over Monroe gave Dougherty a 4-3 region mark, and a spot in the playoffs.