The potential stakes are big.
"The winner has the driver's seat," said Fitzgerald Head Coach Jason Strickland. "To be the No. 1 seed after this week, we obviously have a lot of work to do."
He is talking about the battle for the Region 1-AA championship, which could possibly be decided as early as tonight when Strickland's Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes take on the Brooks County Trojans in Fitzgerald.
Through two weeks of region play, they are the only two undefeated squads. Everyone else is 1-1 or worse. Both have only one loss, Brooks at 5-1 after dropping a game to Valdosta. The 'Canes are 4-1-1. Theirs came at the hands of Jefferson County in week one. The tie is courtesy Irwin County in week two. They have bounced back to win four in a row, including last week's game, 28-13, over Cook.
With the exception of their game with Early County, the Trojans' offense has been potent. They needed it last week when a long bomb in the final minutes gave them a 30-23 win over Thomasville. Until then, they were trailing.
"You're always thinking they're going to make a big play," said Strickland. "[It was] typical Malkom Parrish to typical Deric Herring."
Parrish has committed to the University of Georgia. Herring has reportedly received offers from Marshall and Troy.
That is not all the worries Strickland.
"They play a defense as well."
Four of their opponents have scored 14 points or less.
"We'll have to execute better than we have all year."
He has also being reminding his team about the need to play every snap to the fullest. Brooks nipped them 27-24 in Quitman in 2012.
"It's one of those games you have to play every second." It was the last few that cost them in the previous contest. "We gotta play the last 18 seconds."
Strickland said they had a lull against Cook last week that almost cost them.
He said they were able to pick it back up in the second half.
"Gerald Morgan made a couple of big plays. I'm proud of his efforts. The defense played as well as they have all year."
And to his joy, Brooks is at home at Jaycee Stadium.
"It'll be a good atmosphere. Folks in the community know the impact of this game."
The potential stakes are big.
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