The region schedules begin this week in 5 and 6 and resume in 4, 7 and 8. All five will provide strong clues this week about which teams will be contenders.
Here are five situations to watch –
Region 4 – Sixth-ranked North Cobb (2-0) is perhaps the team to beat after its rousing 49-17 victory over Walton last week and should clobber Kennesaw Mountain on Friday, but Marietta (2-1, 1-0) and McEachern (1-2, 1-0) are solid contenders, as well. They will play at McEachern on Friday. McEachern has won 10 games and lost no more than two for the past three seasons, so a third loss this early would be troubling. Marietta hasn’t been a true region contender since 2005 but should be in the mix this year with LSU-committed QB Anthony Jennings.
Region 5 – Second-ranked Lassiter (3-0) is far and away the team to beat now that Walton’s defense has been called out, but the top game this week is between old rivals Roswell (1-2) and Milton (2-1). Roswell is much better after the 0-10 disaster of 2011. Milton, 4-7 last season, has it has its best team in years. RB Peyton Barber, running behind an offensive line with three top college prospects, scored five touchdowns and rushed for 203 yards on 23 carries in a 52-24 victory over Centennial last week.
Region 6 – Fifth-ranked West Forsyth (3-0) is home against Alpharetta (1-2) in the open week of region play. Alpharetta beat out West Forsyth last season for the title in old 6-AAAAA. Watch the quarterbacks in this one. Alpharetta’s Josh Dobbs has committed to Arizona State and has thrown for more than 800 yards in three games. West Forsyth’s A.J. Erdely, committed to Middle Tennessee, is 39-of-56 passing for 509 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. He has rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
Region 7 – Third-ranked Norcross (3-0, 1-0) emerged as the region favorite after a 31-21 victory over North Gwinnett (2-1, 0-1) last week. Friday’s game between Mill Creek (2-1, 1-0) and Peachtree Ridge (1-2, 1-0) should stamp the winner as next in line behind those two. Peachtree Ridge hasn’t been 1-3 since 2004. The Lions beat Duluth last week 28-21 after being shut out the first two weeks by Parkview and Camden County. Mill Creek, led by blue-chip defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin, is viewed as perhaps the best team that didn’t make the playoffs in 2011.
Region 8 – Parkview (2-1, 1-0) beat Grayson (2-1, 0-1) last week in the biggest win for the program since 2005. If it was a fluke, we’ll find out quickly because fourth-year Archer is no joke. The Tigers stunned Parkview 40-16 last year in a game that essentially put Archer in the playoffs and Parkview out. Last week, Archer lost a heartbreaker to Brookwood 20-19, giving up 10 points in the final 2:41. By the way, not even kudos have been passed out to Parkview’s defense last week. DE Hunter Thornton and DT Sam Wills each had two tackles for losses. This is a unit that also shut out Peachtree Ridge.