With most of the teams beginning their region schedules this week, it’s time to take a closer look at each league and see who might be making postseason travel plans.
Region 1: Pierce County and Appling County are the two best teams; those schools may combine for 100 points when they meet on Oct. 5. Don’t discount Southeast Bulloch, but the Yellow Jackets still have a lot to prove.
Region 2: Peach County, the No. 1-ranked team, has proven itself as the team to beat in the state. The Trojans must get by No. 6 Carver to win the region title, but that game is in Fort Valley. The rest of the league is not very good.
Region 3: This is an outstanding league, with three teams ranked in the top 10: No. 2 Thomson, No. 3 Washington County and No. 7 Dodge County. The final playoff spot in the five-team league could be determined when Jefferson County hosts Swainsboro on Nov. 2.
Region 4: This league is a little different, since none of the teams are great (no one ranked) and none of them are horrible. The edge goes to Central Carroll, which already has two division wins. Expect Callaway and Jackson to be in the playoffs, with a scramble for the final position.
Region 5: This region isn’t great, but it certainly isn’t boring. These guys love to put points on the board. More will be known after this week, when No. 8 Cartersville (3-0) travels to undefeated North Murray (3-0) in perhaps the most important game in the history of the young program. Cartersville will be without freshman tailback Tiamon Pennymon, who is out for the season with a leg injury. The shootout for the playoffs should also include Ringgold, Gordon Central, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Adairsville. This could be the most interesting league this season.
Region 6: No. 5 St. Pius, No. 10 Woodward Academy and Blessed Trinity are the three best teams in this league. Cedar Grove has enough talent to put a scare into any of the three private-school powers and Decatur always remains a wild card.
Region 7: Buford is the class of the league, but Dawson County is closer than most might think. They meet in Buford on Oct. 19. A revived North Hall should get one of the playoff spots, with Banks County, East Hall and perhaps White County in the mix.
Region 8: Probably the second-best league in Class AAA, with No. 9 Morgan County, Elbert County and North Oconee all worthy of statewide consideration. Hart County, Franklin County and Oconee are the trio fighting it out for the final spot.
And while you’re making playoff plans, here’s how the state playoffs line up this year. First-round matchups are Region 1 vs. Region4, Region 2 vs. Region 3, Region 5 vs. Region 8, and Region 6 vs. Region 7.
Eye on the Tigers
Dawson County has quietly raced to a 3-1 start and angling to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Tigers have 20 players back from last year’s 5-5 team, perhaps none more important than quarterback Tyler Dominy., a 6-foot-5 senior who has developed into an outstanding passer. Dominy threw for 1,890 yards and 18 touchdowns last year and last week thew for 412 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Forsyth Central.
Best of the worst
It’s not a great honor to have bestowed, but Hart County may be the best 0-3 team in the state. The Bulldogs have had the misfortune of playing two of its first three games on the road and two of their opening opponents have been ranked teams. Hart has lost to Class AAAAA Cedar Shoals, then No. 9 Blessed Trinity and Class AAAA No. 6 Stephens County. Last week quarterback Dakota Mitchell threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a score.
Hart opens play in Region 8-AAA this week against Franklin County (1-2) and could still make the playoffs, although the Bulldogs close the season against league giants Elbert County, Morgan County and North Oconee.