Now is the time to be playing well. The state playoffs start next week and no one can afford to stumble. Any stagger could result in elimination.
Some teams don’t have much to worry about. They’re playing well and they’re not about to say “hasta la vista” in the first round of the playoffs.
Here are the five hottest teams going into the playoffs:
Thomson: The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs completed their first unbeaten season since 2002 by whipping Jefferson County 29-18 on Friday. Thomson has played perhaps the toughest schedule in the state and has met ever challenge. The Bulldogs’ closest call came in a 21-14 win over No. 7 St. Pius at The Brickyard. Sizzle factor: 10.
Buford: The No. 3-ranked Wolves didn’t win the region championship because of two untimely forfeit losses. But Buford won the de-facto title by dominating first-place North Hall 45-16 Friday. On the field the Wolves have won eight straight since losing to Gainesville. During that span they’ve had four shutouts and allowed only 39 points. Sizzle factor: 9.5.
Cartersville: The No. 6 Purple Hurricanes completed their first unbeaten season since 1999. Coach Frank Barden’s team has been an offensive juggernaut, scoring no fewer than 38 points in eight of their games, including Friday’s 42-7 win over Ringgold. Sizzle factor: 8.8.
Carver: The No. 2 Tigers finished the season 9-1 after Friday’s 26-6 win over Jackson. The signature moment for Carver came two weeks ago when it rose up and beat then No. 1-Peach County on the road. Carver is athletic and plays outstanding defense (three shutouts) but it could be hurt by lack of competition in an otherwise cupcake conference. Sizzle factor: 8.
North Oconee: That 50-14 drubbing to St. Pius suffered in the season opener seems like eons ago. Since then the No. 8 Titans have won nine straight, including a 42-14win over Hart County to close the season and clinch the Region 8 title. Coach Terry Tuley’s team should be toughened by enduring a tough league schedule. Sizzle factor: 8.