Today we continue our look at the playoff chances for Class AAAAA teams by focusing on Regions 1 and 2, which are home to perennial state powers Warner Robins, Northside-Warner Robins and Thomas County Central.
Which teams on the lists below are getting too much credit? Which ones are being underestimated?
Next week we’ll conclude our series with Regions 4 and 7.
*Locks: Thomas County Central
Sixth-ranked Thomas County Central made the playoffs the past 22 seasons, so you can almost always pencil the Yellow Jackets in for a spot. They are the favorites to win the region title.
*Likely: Lee County, Harris County
Lee County seems a lock with its 6-0 record and No. 10 ranking, but the Trojans were 6-0 last year before losing three of four down the stretch and settling for the No. 4 seed. Still, Lee County probably needs just one more victory to return to the playoffs this season. Harris County, the defending champion, opens region play this week and could set itself up well with a victory against Bainbridge.
*On the bubble: Bainbridge, Hardaway
It appears that the fourth playoff spot will come down to Bainbridge and Hardaway, who are both 0-1 in region play after taking lopsided losses in their league openers last week. Bainbridge travels to Hardaway on Oct. 19 in the game that could decide the berth.
*Long shots: None
*Not this year: Northside-Columbus
The idea of Northside making the playoffs isn’t completely ridiculous, especially in a six-team region. But the Patriots are 1-4 overall, and the other five teams in the region are just better than they are, so it isn’t likely to happen this season.
*Locks: Northside-Warner Robins, Warner Robins
Northside has won 24 consecutive region games, a streak that dates to a 21-20 loss to Warner Robins on Oct. 30, 2009. Warner Robins is 14-2 in region play since the start of the 2011 season, and both losses came against Northside. Yes, they will both make the playoffs, and the winner of their matchup on No. 1 will be the region champion.
*On the bubble: Evans, Houston County, Jones County, Lakeside-Evans
These four teams are tied for third place at 1-1 in the region heading into the weekend, and only two of them will make the playoffs. All four have played one game against Northside or Warner Robins, and the closest was Evans’ 27-14 loss to Warner Robins two weeks ago. This week should tell us a lot, however, as Evans plays at Jones County and Lakeside plays at Houston County.
*Long shots: None
*Not this year: Grovetown, Greenbrier
Greenbrier is 0-5 this season and has not had a winning record since 2003. Grovetown is 1-4 overall and has given up at least 52 points in all four of its losses. Their matchup on Nov. 1 is likely to produce the only victory either team will get in region play.