Region play has begun in several Class AAAAA regions and will get under way soon in the others.
Beginning today and continuing for the next three weeks, we’ll take a look at the playoff chances for all of the AAAAA teams. This week we’re looking at 5-AAAAA (which has great depth with seven playoff contenders) and 6-AAAAA (generally considered the strongest in Class AAAAA).
Which teams on the lists below are getting too much credit? Which ones are being underestimated?
Next week we’ll look at Regions 3 and 8, which are home to the two teams that played for the championships last season.
The Buccaneers are 23-1 in regular-season games since the start of the 2011 season. That’s the kind of consistency that has made seventh-ranked Allatoona the favorite to win the region and possibly run the table.
*Likely: South Paulding
The Spartans already have victories against two of the playoff contenders (Rome, Villa Rica), and a win against Allatoona on Friday moves them into the “locks” category. South Paulding is averaging 48.7 points per game.
*On the bubble: New Manchester, East Paulding, North Paulding, Rome
Upstart New Manchester has beaten North Paulding and lost to East Paulding, and North Paulding has beaten East Paulding, so there’s still some sorting to be done. But it appears likely that the final playoff spots will go to two of those three teams. Rome has lost to Allatoona and South Paulding and has little margin for error the rest of the way.
*Long shots: Villa Rica
The Wildcats are 3-1 after beating Paulding County in overtime last week, but they have a difficult schedule remaining, including a four-game stretch to finish the year that includes games against Allatoona, New Manchester, Rome and North Paulding.
*Not this year: Paulding County, Lithia Springs, Hiram, Woodland-Cartersville
Paulding County has one of the region’s most-improved teams, but at 1-4 the Patriots are already too far behind to get into contention. Lithia Springs, Hiram and Woodland are still looking for their first victories.
*Locks: Stephenson, Tucker, Mays
Top-ranked Tucker and No. 2 Stephenson have been playoff regulars over the past 15 years or so and will be there again this season. Mays is almost always in contention, but the Raiders erased any doubts with an upset of M.L. King as well as convincing victories against Miller Grove and Southwest DeKalb.
*Likely: M.L. King
The Lions almost certainly will be a playoff team, but the loss to Mays keeps them just outside the “locks” category for now. M.L. King is likely to be 5-1 in the region when it faces Stephenson and Tucker in consecutive weeks beginning on Oct. 25.
*On the bubble: None
*Long shots: Arabia Mountain, Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb
These three teams have two losses in region play and face difficult schedules, so they won’t be in the playoffs unless there’s a major collapse by one of the top four, which is unlikely. Southwest DeKalb has missed the postseason just twice since 1985.
*Not this year: Lakeside-DeKalb, Dunwoody, North Atlanta, Clarkston
Lakeside has a victory against Dunwoody but probably won’t get many more. Dunwoody and North Atlanta will be fortunate to get any. Clarkston is playing a non-region schedule and is not eligible for the postseason.