CAIRO -- The 7-1 Cairo Syrupmakers have already clinched a spot in the Class AAA playoffs and their Oct. 29 game against Crisp County will determine the Region 1-AAA champion, but coach Tom Fallaw's team has work to do before it can point to the showdown against the Cougars.
First, the Syrupmakers must get past a struggling, but always dangerous Monroe team Saturday in Albany.
"We never look past anybody," Fallaw said. "That's our job and we're not looking ahead. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week and the players know we have one game at a time."
Monroe enters on a five-game losing streak and stands 2-6 on the season and 0-3 in region play, but the Tornadoes possess a dual-threat in quarterback Terrance Ransom. The senior has passed for 1,995 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also leads the team in rushing with 350 yards and three touchdowns.
"They have the best quarterback in the state," Fallaw said. "They also have two capable receivers who are division one quality. The records are thrown out of the books."
The receivers Ransom will likely target are Lamontray Williams and Patrick Brown. Williams leads the region with 38 receptions for 784 yards and six touchdowns. Brown is right on his heels with 29 catches for 511 yards and five touchdowns.
Although the Tornadoes' passing game is the strength of their offense, Cairo's strength has been the defensive secondary. The Syrupmakers are allowing less than 100 yards passing per game. They also lead the region with 12 interceptions. William Jackson has accounted for five of them, including a big pick in the second half against Dougherty.
With a strong defensive backfield, Fallaw plans on fighting fire with fire.
"We're not going to change anything," Fallaw said. "We stress the same thing every week, maintain the fundamentals and execute the assignments. If we don't execute our assignments we're not going to be successful."
One area Cairo has a distinct advantage is in the running game. The Tornadoes are allowing 241 yards per game on the ground. The Syrupmakers, on the other hand, average 164 yards rushing per game. And both Fabian Cooper and Danta Harrell are coming off big games against the Trojans. Cooper rushed for 121 yards and scored two touchdowns, while Harrell added 78 yards. He also set up Cooper's first touchdown with a 41-yard run deep into Dougherty territory.
"They have to be ready," Fallaw said.
"Everybody has to be ready. We have to continue to improve. We have to go up to Albany and the atmosphere is different. It's not like playing at home. It's a big stadium and things are different, especially on a Saturday. Some strange things have happened there."
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