Heeter: Bibb County football teams showing promise

jheeter@macon.comSeptember 10, 2013 

Howard_Southwest

Ladarius Washington and the Howard Huskies are among four Bibb County public school football teams who are off to 2-0 starts this season.

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It’s early.

Most Middle Georgia football teams haven’t even passed the quarter post of their season.

That leaves plenty of time for teams to turn around uninspiring starts and plenty of times for those who’ve started strong to regress some.

But disregard the youth of the 2013 football season for a few minutes.

Bibb County football fans should be optimistic with the start of the new season.

Westside -- the measuring stick for the success of all other Bibb County public schools since it opened in 1997 -- is off to a routine 2-0 start. The Seminoles’ victories over two less-than-great teams shouldn’t be noteworthy, but the fashion in which they’ve defeated Central and Dougherty (by a combined score of 91-20) should draw attention.

The Seminoles had to rebuild this season, replacing a City Player of the Year quarterback in Noah Grayer, an All-Middle Georgia receiver in Shannon Smith and several pieces on the offensive line.

Head coach Sheddrick Risper has seen no dropoff in his offensive production, but rather he’s buoyed by two quarterbacks who will provide problems for most defenses.

The Seminoles will see a steep increase in degree of difficulty this week when they play Northside at 7 p.m. on Thursday at McConnell-Talbert Stadium. The game was a building block a year ago for Westside, which played competitively despite losing by 24. The Seminoles didn’t lose another game during the regular season.

Westside’s success shouldn’t surprise anyone. Neither should Northeast’s.

The Raiders have quietly become the most successful team in Bibb County since 2000, using the metric of playoff appearances. They’ve been to the postseason 10 times since 2000, while Westside has been nine times. The disparity comes in postseason success, where the Seminoles can brag about two trips to the state semifinals. The Raiders haven’t won a playoff game since 2002, going one-and-done in their past seven playoff trips.

Northeast is another school expected to make a playoff run.

The Raiders did so last season, and they returned talented quarterback Davion Anderson. They are off to a 2-0 start, and they could very well be 4-0 when they host No. 3 Lamar County on Oct. 4.

The surprise starts have come from Howard and Rutland.

The Hurricanes had a nice buzz around them heading into this season, but they’ve had that some buzz in the past. This season, the Hurricanes appeared poised to make a real run at the playoffs for the first time since 2007, the last time they made the playoffs.

Rutland is off to its first 2-0 start in program history, scoring 83 combined points in those victories. It’s only the third time ever the Hurricanes have scored 80 or more combined points in back-to-back games.

The Hurricanes region schedule is backloaded, with the three perceived favorites in Region 2-AAAA coming in the final five games. A Sept. 26 game against Veterans could loom large, as both teams are expected to chase playoff spots this season.

Howard’s situation is well-known by now.

The Huskies had five wins and 45 losses in their first five seasons.

Enter Barney Hester, who won 11 GISA championships and more than 300 games at Tattnall Square, and the Huskies are 2-0 for the first time in program history. They can equal a program record for single-season wins with a victory over Walnut Grove on Friday.

The road will get tougher for the Huskies, who are still learning to do the little things right -- they nearly gave away wins over East Laurens and Southwest. Their soft schedule ends after this week, and the teams in Region 2-AAAA will show them no mercy.

But now, with the season still in its infancy, there is still much to celebrate for Bibb County’s public schools, which is a much different feeling than in recent years.

Contact Jonathan Heeter at 744-4400 or jheeter@macon.com

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