It seems like only last week that we were all complaining, while wiping the sweat from our brows, about the season starting too early. How quickly the end of October has found us, with teams fighting for spots in the playoffs that begin next week. Commerce travels to Slaughter Field to play Athens Academy for the 8-A title, and Landmark Christian hosts Eagle Landing Christian for the 5-A title. Hawkinsville and Pacelli will enter the playoffs undefeated, while Bowdon, Clinch County, Lincoln County, and McIntosh County Academy have four other regions locked up.
In Region 1, Clinch County will be region champ. After that, almost anything can happen. The winner of this Friday's Miller County vs Turner County game will be #2. If Atkinson beats Lanier County and Seminole County defeats Pelham, the Miller/Turner loser will be tied with Atkinson and Seminole; using record vs Class A temas, that loser would finish third with Atkinson fourth. But if Atkinson beats Lanier and Seminole loses to Pelham, the Miller/Turner loser would be tied with Atkinson, and Atkinson would finish third and that loser fourth since Atkinson defeated both Miller and Turner this year. Maybe! Needless to say, there will be a lot of cellphone activity between the 1-A stadiums this Friday as everyone tries to track the games that affect their playoff potentials.
Pacelli will win Region 2 with Randolph-Clay second, Brookstone third and Taylor County a likely fourth.
In Region 3, McIntosh County Academy takes the 3-A title and could potentially host a quarterfinal game against our Red Devils. Portal now needs a win over Savannah Country Day this Friday to take second place, with the loser third. In fourth place will be the winner between Calvary Baptist and ECI.
In Region 4, the top 3 spots will finish the way most thought they would: Hawkinsville, Twiggs County, and Johnson County. Those Red Devils will have take a 25-game winning streak into the playoffs and will host the finals should they reach the last dance. The Cobras ' second place finish sets up a possible third-round meeting with our Red Devils in Lincolnton. Telfair County will finish in fourth place. But, a Telfair upset of Twiggs this week could throw 4-A into chaos with a 3-way tie for second, third, and fourth.
Region 5 sees Landmark Christian defending its region title against Eagles Landing Christian Academy, which played in the Georgia private school league in the past. Whitefield Academy finishes third. The fourth seed will be determined this Friday when Mt. Zion battles Our Lady of Mercy for either team's first 2004 victory. Their reward for winning? -- a trip to Lincolnton in the first round next week.
In Region 6, Bowdon returned to its accustomed perch as region champ. Bremen must quickly regroup as it plays Trion this Friday to decide second and third. Gordon Lee will finish fourth.
In Region 7, Aquinas must travel to Sparta to play Hancock Central for the third and fourth seeds in 7-A. Washington-Wilkes found its offense last week and will finish second, hosting Whitefield Academy in the first round. Lincoln County should go into the playoffs with a nine-game win-streak after its game with GMC this week. Our Devils have improved with each game, and will host playoff games at least the first two rounds.
In Region 8, it has come down to what almost everyone (except Jefferson and Social Circle fans) expected back in August: Athens Academy hosts Commerce for the 8-A title. Commerce lost to larger schools, while AA's only blemish was a close loss to Lincoln County. This matchup by the pond in Oconee County is the highlight game in Class A this Friday. Jefferson, with its high hopes dampened after close loses to AA and Commerce, plays Social Circle for third and fourth in 8-A. One more note: depending on how the brackets actually work out, the AA-Commerce winner could host Washington-Wilkes in the second round before traveling to Hawkinsville in the third round. The loser would probably travel to Lincolnton for a rematch with our Devils in the second round.
After this Friday only 32 teams will still have a chance at the 2004 Class A State Football Championship. Some say it will be Clinch County at Hawkinsville for the title, but those 30 other teams will have a say of their own before all the dust settles the first week of December.