Five questions for Class AAAAAA this week:
Can Parkview close the deal? The Panthers’ return to prominence has been one of the best stories of the season in Georgia. Parkview can clinch Region 8 and win its first region title since 2004 with a victory over South Gwinnett. Both teams are 7-2, so it won’t be easy. The game is at South Gwinnett. The Comets can’t win the region unless Brookwood upsets Grayson but will finish no worse than second and host a state playoff game with a victory.
Will Druid Hills break a drought? The winner of the Druid Hills-Rockdale County game will make the playoffs out of Region 2. Granted, it’s a pretty weak league when teams that are 4-5 (Druid Hills) and 2-7 (Rockdale) are getting a chance to make the post-season, but that won’t stop the celebrating if Druid Hills makes it. The Red Devils have not had a winning season since 1993. (And that might not change since Druid Hills would be 5-6 if it won this game and lost in the first round to region champion Langston Hughes.) Druid Hills has not make the playoffs since 1985. And that was the region playoffs. Druid Hills hasn’t made the state playoffs since … 1956! Druid Hills lost to Valdosta in the Class AA championship that year. Fran Tarkenton was still in high school then at Athens High.
Will Valdosta or Coffee be left out? Or Colquitt? The Valdosta-Coffee game might also be viewed as a loser-leave-town match, as the loser is almost certainly going to miss out on the playoffs. But it’s possible that won’t be the case. If Valdosta wins, Valdosta is the No. 3 seed. If Valdosta loses and No. 1 Camden County beats Colquitt County, there will be a three-way tie for third place, with only two spaces available for the playoffs. The tiebreaker will be points allowed against the five playoff contenders. Colquitt has allowed 64 points, Valdosta 96 and Coffee 97. So Colquitt probably would need to give up 40 points or more to be eliminated. In any event, Coffee has the least to lose in the first season under a new coach, Robby Pruitt, who has made positive strides in that program. It would be a real step back for Valdosta or Colquitt to sit on the sidelines next week.
Will Wheeler stay alive? What do Eddie Printz, Tyren Jones and Shamire Devine have in common? First, they are Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super 11 players. Second, they played in Wheeler’s middle school program before moving elsewhere. The uncertainty of Wheeler’s coaching staff at the time was a factor in the case of Jones and Printz, perhaps Devine as well. Wheeler was 0-10 when those players were in the eighth grade, then went 0-10 when they were freshmen in other programs. That’s when Michael Collins took the job. Wheeler has gone from 0-10 to 1-9 to 4-6 to 5-4 and now perhaps on the verge of the school’s first playoff berth since 2006. The Cinderella story must entail a Wheeler victory over Cherokee, a Lassiter victory over Etowah and a Milton victory over Woodstock. That would force a three-way tie for fourth place among Etowah, Woodstock and Wheeler. The three then would meet in mini-games on Monday to determine the final playoff qualifier.
Who else will make the playoffs? The 32 playoff teams are fairly well known entering the final week of the regular season. Aside from the dramas involving Druid Hills, Wheeler and Region 1, there are two other games that essentially winner-makes-the-playoffs, loser-is-out games. They are Douglas County vs. Tri-Cities in Region 3 and Chattahoochee-Centennial in Region 6.