The only game in the state this weekend matching 9-0 teams takes place at the Boneyard in Dallas on Friday when third-ranked East Paulding hosts No. 5 Allatoona to decide the Region 5-AAAAA championship.
Both teams have offenses and defenses that rank in the top 10 in Class AAAAA. Allatoona relies on two 1,000-yard rushers in Josh Bettistea (1,103 yards) and T.J. Herron (1,038). The Buccaneers score 37.6 points per game while allowing 13.6. East Paulding has two good backs of its own in Kamani Thomas (1,428) and Kyler Neal (825), and quarterback Mitchell Webb has passed for 1,135 yards and 17 TDs. The Raiders are averaging 44.4 points per game and allowing 9.2. It’s worth noting that those numbers have been compiled against the same nine opponents as the 11-team region has played a full round-robin schedule.
The winner will open the playoffs next week at home against Clarke Central, the No. 4 seed from Region 8. The loser will host Heritage of Conyers.
But the Region 5 title isn’t the only one that will be determined on Friday. Here are three other games in which the top two teams from a region will square off to decide the championship:
*Harris County at Thomas County Central (1-AAAAA): Harris County has never won a region title, and the prospects didn’t look good this season when the Tigers opened with four consecutive losses. But Harris County beat Douglas County in three overtimes in its final non-region game and then won four consecutive region games (three by a touchdown or less) to set up the winner-take-all battle with Thomas County Central. The Yellow Jackets have won 11 region titles, with the most recent one coming in 2009.
*Effingham County at Ware County (3-AAAAA): Effingham County got off to a similar slow start, losing its first two games by 20 points each to Class AA schools Benedictine and Screven County. But coach Rick Tomberlin and the Rebels rallied to win six of their next seven and need just one more victory to claim the school’s first region title since 1995. Ware County was expected to be in this position, and the Gators haven’t disappointed, winning eight straight since a close loss to AAAAAA Coffee in the opener.
*Gainesville at Flowery Branch (8-AAAAA): Gainesville’s almost inexplicable loss to Loganville last week didn’t take anything away from this showdown. A victory over their rival would give the Red Elephants their fifth consecutive region title and 29th overall. Flowery Branch tied for first place in the region last season but ended up as the No. 3 seed on the tiebreaker, so a victory against Gainesville would give the Falcons their first outright region title in the program’s 11-year history.