Here’s what to look for this weekend in Class AAAAAA:
- The best race in Region 6-AAAAA will be the one for the fourth playoff spot behind top-ranked Tucker, No. 2 Stephenson and No. 4 M.L. King, and this week’s teams to watch are Mays and Lakeside-DeKalb. The Raiders and Vikings are currently tied with the big three for first place but have tough challenges this week. Mays picked up a big victory against Miller Grove last week and could take another step toward a playoff berth by beating M.L. King on Saturday. Lakeside beat Dunwoody last week but is really looking to be more of a spoiler against Southwest DeKalb, which must win to avoid its first 0-3 start since 2002 and maintain any realistic hopes of making the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
- Third-year program New Manchester announced itself as a potential playoff challenger in Region 5-AAAAA with a 41-30 upset victory over North Paulding last week. Now the Jaguars have one more chance to pad the record, with a game on Friday against Woodland-Cartersville, before heading into the part of the schedule that will determine their fate. New Manchester begins a three-game stretch next week in which it plays East Paulding, Rome and Allatoona, the top three teams in the region last season.
- The four playoff teams from 8-AAAAA last year aren’t exactly on a hot streak heading into region play. Defending region champion Flowery Branch is 0-2. Gainesville, the region runner-up but state champion last season, is 1-1 after getting thumped by Buford 38-14. Heritage-Conyers is 1-1 and lost to rival Rockdale County 9-7 last week. Clarke Central is the only one of the four heading into region play off a victory (37-12 against Central Gwinnett last week). But all four teams are expected to win easily in their region openers.
- Warner Robins and city rival Northside likely won’t face much of a challenge in region play until they meet on Nov. 1 in the game that almost certainly will determine the region champion. But they should face at least mild challenges this week in non-region games against teams from lower classifications. Northside takes on Class AAAA No. 10 Westside-Macon on Thursday. Warner Robins faces a Peach County team on Friday that will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Baldwin that cost it a spot in the AAA rankings.
- Richmond Hill can move to 3-0 with a victory against Savannah, which has lost all five previous meetings against the Wildcats. It would give Richmond Hill its third consecutive 3-0 start, something the Wildcats haven’t accomplished since they began playing varsity football in 1986.