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October 7, 2003

Americus-They're calling it Americus-Early County Part IV. And just like the three previous meetings between these two teams, Friday night's clash of the double-A powerhouses is expected to be one for the ages.

"It's a great region battle. You know, two good programs year in and year out, both programs are going to be real strong. It just so happens the last few years there has been a lot of critical implications on the ball game," Americus head coach Erik Soliday said.

"The only way you're going to get better is to play better folks. We're looking forward to it. We know we have a long uphill battle to play them," Early County head coach Trey Woolf said.

In this heavy weight title bout Americus is the champion, having beat the Bobcats in all three games, including the 2001 double-A state championship. "We always know that these two teams are going to be the top ranked teams in the state. And then us being in the same region it makes it even a bigger game," senior Dustin Wolcott said.

Early County once again enters as the challenger. But for the first time in three years, they'll fight the battle on their home field. "It's good not to have to go up there, it really is. That's what I told coach (Soliday) the other night, I saw him Friday night after the ball game. I asked him did he know the way down here and he said unfortunately he did," Woolf said.

And Americus will have plenty of time to get there. The Panthers are on fall break this week, which means no distractions.

"We get a lot more time to think about it, especially since we don't have to worry about school. So that gives us more time to think about Early and study the game plan," senior Derek Wolcott said.

On paper Friday's game looks as if it will be a matchup between an Americus offense that is averaging over 48 points a game versus an Early County defense that is surrendering just over 8 points a contest. The coaches however see it differently.

"It comes down to execution and who gets the big play and who doesn't," Soliday said. "If I had to pick a key it would be us offensively. Being able to control the ball and hold onto the ball and keep the ball away from them," Woolf said.

Win or lose both coaches agree that Friday's game is the perfect mid-season tune up for the playoff type atmosphere they can expect to see week in and week out when the postseason rolls around next month.

Posted at 11:59pm by kevin.mcdermond@walb.com