By Walter L. Johnson II
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hugh Mills Stadium
2010 Records: Early County, 0-3, Westover 1-2
Last Week: Early County lost to Seminole County 28-14. Westover lost to Bainbridge, 35-7.
All-time series record: Series tied 1-1
First meeting: Early County 18, Westover 6 (1972)
Last meeting: Westover 13, Early County 0 (1973)
As hard as it might be to believe, Early County and Westover will play each other on the football field for only the third time ever this week.
Both programs, however, have at least three things in common so far this year: 1, they’ve both played perennial Georgia High School Association Class AAAA power Bainbridge (where former Early County head coach Ed Pilcher currently coaches), and lost to the Bearcats. 2, both the Bobcats and Patriots have either played, or will play, Albany High, before the end of the 2010 campaign, and 3, both teams are off to slow starts, as Westover’s win over Albany is the lone win in the six games played between the Patriots and Bobcats, respectively.
Dating back to the start of the 1966 season, Early County has been one of the strongest programs in the state, with an all-time overall record of 312-178-6 through last week’s games. But the Bobcats have found going rough recent years, as their program has had only one double-digit win season since 2004 (11-3 in 2006). Additionally, Early County’s last state playoff appearance was in 2007, when the Bobcats lost to Jefferson County, 13-0, in the first round of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs. Ironically, 2007 was also the last time Westover reached postseason play, losing to Chamblee, 41-26, in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs.
Both teams have struggled to score points so far this season, as the Bobcats have scored 14 points or less, averaging 11.3 points a contest, while also giving up an average of 20.3 points a game. As for the Patriots, they’ve been outscored 61-21 in their two losses, while scoring at least 20 points just once in their lone win of the season thus far: a 21-7 triumph over Albany High in head coach Octavia Jones’s second game ever at the Westover helm.
Although this is a non-region contest for both teams, this match-up between Early County and Westover serves as a “must-win” for their respective programs, as this is the last such game for both squads before jumping into tough region schedules next week. The Bobcats open GHSA Region 1-AA play at home against Thomasville, while the Patriots will face the Dougherty Trojans to start GHSA Region 1-AAA action. Both games will be played on September 24.
Correction: In my Sept. 1 “Game Of The Week” column, I erroneously wrote that Westover had reached the playoffs. The Patriots had another postseason appearance in 2003 when they lost to Peach County, 42-9, in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA state playoffs. I am sorry for the mistake.
On the web: Georgia High School Football Historians Association (www.ghsfha.org/)