Here are five things we learned from Week 5 in Class AAAAA:
*Don’t forget about Southwest DeKalb: With top-four teams Tucker, M.L. King and Stephenson looking good at the top of the region standings, Southwest DeKalb and Mays appeared to be the top challengers for the fourth playoff berth from 6-AAAAA. Southwest DeKalb took a big step toward getting that berth with its 14-7 victory over Mays on Friday. The Panthers remain tied for fourth place with Miller Grove, but the Wolverines have yet to play any of the top teams in the region and lost to Mays 34-7 two weeks ago. And Southwest DeKalb still has time to improve its position as Stephenson and Tucker are both on the schedule in the next three games.
*Playoffs in sight for North Paulding: The fifth-year program from Dallas has never been to the playoffs, but first-year coach Scott Jones has the Wolfpack in good position after a 43-27 victory over Hiram on Friday. North Paulding (3-1) is in third place in 5-AAAAA, a half-game ahead of Rome and South Paulding, and plays Rome on Oct. 12 in a game that might determine third in the region. North Paulding’s Kayden Bishop threw a touchdown pass, had three TD receptions and kicked a field goal against Hiram.
*Creekview will be a factor in 7-AAAAA: The Grizzlies suffered their first loss on Friday when Kell intercepted a pass near the end zone in the closing seconds to preserve a 33-29 victory. But the strong showing against the front-runner from the region’s Division B legitimizes Creekview as the team to beat in Division A, where the other five teams in the subregion are a combined 1-15. If Creekview takes care of business and Kell holds off Riverwood and Pope, the Grizzlies and Longhorns would meet again on Nov. 9 in the region championship game.
*Deshaun Watson for Player of the Year?: Gainesville’s junior quarterback got off to a bit of a shaky start with seven interceptions in the first two games, but he is on fire now that the Red Elephants have entered play in 8-AAAAA. He passed for 294 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 75 yards in a 69-20 victory over Apalachee on Friday in a game that was played with a running clock in the second half. In two region games, Watson is 35-for-38 passing for 644 yards and eight touchdowns, and the Red Elephants have outscored their opposition 131-20. The competition level steps up in a big way next weekend when seventh-ranked Gainesville meets No. 10 Heritage-Conyers in a game that will go a long way toward determining the region title.
*Thomas County Central should be ready for region play: The Yellow Jackets opened the season with non-region games against rival Thomasville, three ranked teams and a team from the state’s best region. They completed a 4-1 start with a 34-14 victory over Region 1-AAAAAA’s Tift County on Friday, pulling away in the fourth quarter behind three touchdowns from quarterback Adam Choice. Thomas County Central has the week off next weekend and begins play in 1-AAAAA on Oct. 5 at home against Bainbridge, perhaps its top challenger for the region title.