Here’s what to look for this weekend in Class AAAAA:
- If top-ranked Tucker and No. 2 Stephenson take care of business this week, it will set up the biggest game of the regular season in AAAAA when the teams meet on Oct. 11 (the region is off next week). Tucker will be going for its 13th consecutive victory against Lakeside-DeKalb in a series the Tigers lead 23-22-1. Stephenson takes on a SW DeKalb team that is struggling in the first season after the retirement of Buck Godfrey. The computer Maxwell Ratings favor Stephenson by 27 points and Tucker by 40 this week.
- The winner of the Allatoona-South Paulding game in Douglasville will have sole possession of first place in Region 5-AAAAA. Allatoona is seeking its fourth playoff berth in six seasons of football, while the eighth-year South Paulding program is trying to reach the postseason for the first time. Other games involving playoff contenders from what appears to be the deepest region in the classification include Rome at New Manchester, East Paulding at Villa Rica and Woodland-Cartersville at North Paulding.
- It’s easy to forget that state champion Gainesville finished in a tie for second place in 8-AAAAA last week, two games behind region champion Flowery Branch. The other half of that tie was Heritage-Conyers, the Red Elephants’ opponent this week. For Heritage to gain any ground in the standings, it will have to improve on its performance against Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw for 268 yards, rushed for 113 and had a hand in five touchdowns in the Red Elephants’ 42-14 victory last season.
- Region play begins this week in 2-AAAAA, where six teams are essentially battling for two playoff berths behind third-ranked Northside-Warner Robins and No. 8 Warner Robins. The biggest game this weekend might be on Saturday, when Lakeside-Evans (2-1), a playoff team last season, travels to Northside (3-0). Keep an eye on Lakeside’s Jonathan Edwards. He scored three touchdowns (two receptions, kickoff return) in a victory against Westside-Augusta last week. Note that Northside won last year’s meeting 56-0.
- Richmond Hill, Glynn Academy and Effingham County finished in a three-way tie for second place in 3-AAAAA last year, and they are likely to be the region’s playoff teams with Ware County again this season. That means the winner of Friday’s Richmond Hill-Glynn Academy game will have a leg up in the race for the No. 2 seed. Glynn must find a way to contain Richmond Hill quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, a Mississippi State commitment who has rushed for 286 yards and passed for 209 in the Wildcats’ 3-0 start.