QUITMAN -- For most Region 1-AA teams, Friday marks the beginning of region play, but not for Brooks County.

The Trojans already took their off-week in the third week of the season and have today's 7:30 p.m. kickoff at home against Westover before region play begins next week. When Brooks' region stretch begins, the Trojans (1-2) will have to play six straight weeks, but head coach Ryan Branch says he thinks the bye week was scheduled at the right time.

"I don't think (it hurts)," Branch said. "I think it came at at good time because the kids finally started to understand they've got to get better each week."

First things first, though, for the Trojans when Westover comes to town today. The Patriots (2-1) have gone 11-20 the last three years, but Branch sees an improving Westover squad that lost its first game of the season last week to Lee County, 15-13.

"Westover is much improved," Branch said. "They've had a few down years, but coach Jeff Caldwell (former Brooks head coach) has them headed in the right direction."

Brooks is coming off a close 13-8 loss to Class AAAAA Tift County.

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After an 0-2 start, Cook High head coach George Dean said his young Hornets would get better. Two weeks later, he's been right so far.

The Hornets (2-2) have won two straight heading into today's 7:30 p.m. region opening kickoff at Mitchell Baker.

"This is a big one," Dean said. "We've got to win the first one if we're going to win the rest and we've got to keep the little things in order. That's what has been getting us beat."

For the most part, Cook has cut out the little mistakes, which were costly in the first two losses. The fumbles and special teams goofs were slim to none in last week's 38-19 win over Monroe.

The Hornets' test this week will be stopping a punishing Eagles' rushing attack. Mitchell Baker (1-3) has lost three straight after a season opening win.

"The run defense is doing real good," Dean said. "We're starting to come together. (Mitchell Baker's) defense is pretty good, too. It's going to be a good one."

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Berrien High hasn't won a region game since 2001, when the Rebels won two that year, but if Berrien's start to the 2004 season is any indication, this year may be as good a time as any to top that mark. The only problem is, Bacon County and Brantley County, Berrien's two region wins in the last three years, are not included in realigned Region 1-AA.

The Rebels (3-1) go for that elusive region win when they open 1-AA play tonight at home against Thomasville (2-1) at 8 p.m. Berrien will find out where it stands in the region tonight, playing against a Bulldogs club that went 8-4 last season and advanced to the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

Berrien's three wins this season have come against Class A teams.

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