Five things to watch for this week …
Which end of Cobb is better? It’s North Cobb (4-0) vs. South Cobb (4-0) in a game between Region 4’s remaining unbeaten teams. McEachern (3-2, 3-0) also is unbeaten in the region, but not overall. North Cobb is heavily favored despite those records, as the Maxwell Ratings are projecting a 15-point spread. North Cobb has routed everyone it has played, including Walton (49-17), while South Cobb has struggled against not-so-good Kennesaw Mountain (28-26) and Campbell (42-39).
Which part of East Cobb is better? This should be fun. Two of Georgia’s state player-of-the-year candidates are going head to head on Friday when second-ranked Lassiter (5-0) plays at home against Walton (4-1). Lassiter is led by Printz, who is 91-of-134 passing (67.9 percent) for 1,334 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions this season. Walton has running back Tyren Jones, who has rushed for 1,120 yards and 13 touchdowns on 164 carries (6.8 ypc) on the season. At his current pace, Jones would need 13 games to break the state record for rushing yards in a season in the highest classification held by Caleb King of Parkview, who ran for 2,768 in 2005. Printz and Jones are Atlanta Journal-Constitution preseason Super 11 picks. They also were teammates at Lassiter (Jones transferred after his sophomore season) and in middle school. Walton beat Lassiter twice last season, once in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.
What’s in the Coffee? The presumptive playoff teams in Region 1 have been Camden County, Lowndes, Colquitt County and Valdosta. But Valdosta has lost to a Class AA team (Brooks County) and been routed by Camden County (43-6). Maybe it’s time to give Coffee some consideration. Coffee plays at Camden on Friday. Coffee did lose to AAAA Burke County (33-21) but handled region rival Tift County pretty good last week (24-7), holding Tift to some 100 yards of total offense. Coffee runs the Wing T under new coach Robby Pruitt, perhaps the top post-season hire in the state. Four Coffee backs have more than 150 yards rushing, each averaging at least 5.3 yards per carry, in Lecarvius Sears (44 carries, 273 yards), George Johnson (41-260), Timareion Simmons (34-223) and Santory Long (29-153).
Is Milton a contender in Region 5? Lassiter and Walton are the teams to beat in Region, but the other two unbeaten teams in the region – Milton (4-1, 2-0) and Etowah (4-3, 2-0) – play on Thursday. Milton has three offensive linemen committed to Division I schools. RB Peyton Barber has rushed for 867 yards, and DE Carl Lawson (committed to Auburn) has 10.5 sacks.
Who’s making the playoffs in Region 7? OK, so there aren’t a lot of marquee matchups this week. But let’s call Peachtree Ridge vs. Collins Hill the most important game for the teams involved. Why? Because The Walton-Lassiter loser is going to make the playoffs. The Ridge-Hill loser probably won’t. Peachtree Ridge (2-3) has its worst mid-season record since 2004. But Friday is a chance to clear some space for a playoff run as the Lions face Collins Hill (3-2) at home. Norcross (5-0) and North Gwinnett (4-1) are considered locks to make it. Mill Creek (3-2) has beaten Peachtree Ridge and is a front-runner for a third spot. In other words, Peachtree Ridge-Collins Hill is a must-win game for both.