Region play begins this week in 6-AAAAA, perhaps one of the most competitive regions in Class AAAAA. Here’s a look at each team’s playoff chances going into region play.
Keep in mind that these are as much guesses based on history as they are predictions. No team was given a 100 percent chance of making the playoffs, because there are too many unknowns, such as forfeits, injuries or bad weather. And the 95 percent grade will be reserved for Tucker and Northside-Warner Robins (when we get to 1-AAAAA), the two elites in the classification. But any grade at 80 percent or more means I’m pretty confident that team will make the playoffs.
Which teams on the lists below are getting too much credit? Which ones are being underestimated?
I’ll have more regions in the coming weeks as they begin league play.
*Tucker (95%) – The 2011 Class AAAA champions are ranked No. 2 in the state and the favorites to win the region. The Tigers are a virtual lock to make the playoffs.
*M.L. King (85%) – The Lions’ chances of making the playoffs are probably higher than this, but they’ll need to prove they’ve overcome an abrupt coaching change just before the start of the season. A 23-0 victory over Stockbridge in the opener was a good start.
*Stephenson (85%) – Like M.L. King, the Jaguars’ real playoff chances could be higher, but the cancellation of their game last week leaves them as one of just a handful of teams across the state that hasn’t played. It’s hard to make a fair judgment.
*Southwest DeKalb (60%) – The Panthers made the playoffs six of the past seven seasons and appear to be the frontrunner to grab the fourth postseason berth from the region this year. The Sept. 21 game against Mays will be a big one.
*Mays (30%) – The Raiders also made the playoffs six of the past seven seasons, but they’ll have a fight on their hands to go back this season. A loss to Carver-Atlanta last week does not bode well. Mays probably needs to beat Miller Grove and Southwest DeKalb over the next three weeks to have a shot.
*Miller Grove (25%) – The Wolverines were in the playoff hunt last year until late-season, lopsided losses to Tucker and Southwest DeKalb knocked them out. Miller Grove will need to reverse last season’s results and knock off at least one of the top-tier teams to have a shot.
*Dunwoody (8%) – The Wildcats usually are at least close to the playoff hunt, but it’s going to be tough for them this year with the addition of Stephenson and M.L. King to the region. A 38-6 loss to Chamblee in the opener was not a good sign.
*Arabia Mountain (8%) – The Rams appear to be headed in the right direction, but they are in just their third full varsity season and have not been better than 3-7 (and that was in AAA).
*North Atlanta (3%) – The Warriors went 2-8 in Class AAA last season and haven’t been to the playoffs since 1996. The will have a difficult time changing that this season.
*Lakeside-DeKalb (1%) – The Vikings won’t make the playoffs, but they should be dramatically improved under first-year coach Mike Rozier. The 14 points they scored in a season-opening loss to Holy Innocents’ were more than they had in nine of their 10 games last season.
*Clarkston (0%) – The Angoras aren’t eligible for the postseason because they opted to play a non-region schedule. That probably was a wise choice considering they lost their first two games to Arabia Mountain and Druid Hills by a combined score of 73-2.
Region play already is under way in 5-AAAAA, which has 11 members and is playing a full round-robin schedule. Look for East Paulding, Allatoona and Rome to pull away from the pack, with Hiram, Villa Rica and perhaps North Paulding fighting for the final playoff spot. New Manchester is currently in first place at 2-0, but it’s hard to imagine that the second-year Jaguars can survive a three-game stretch beginning Sept. 21 that has them facing East Paulding, Rome and Allatoona on consecutive weekends. Here’s how I see the chances of making the playoffs in this region:
East Paulding – 94%
Allatoona – 80%
Rome – 75%
Hiram – 51%
Villa Rica – 40%
North Paulding – 25%
New Manchester – 12%
South Paulding – 12%
Woodland-Cartersville – 8%
Lithia Springs – 2%
Paulding County – 1%