Upsets in Class AAA have been rare this year, but results from last week altered the way the playoffs are shaping up. After North Hall’s stunning loss and North Oconee’s setback, the picture has definitely been altered for the teams in the northern part of the state.
Here’s a look at the way the playoffs are shaping up for teams in Region 5-8.
Region 5: No. 2 Cartersville remains the team to beat. The Purple Hurricanes haven’t sniffed a challenge all year. Their closest call was a 20-point win over North Murray. With quarterback Brooks Barden leading the way, the Canes have not scored less than 35 points in a game this year.
Cartersville’s only challenge is expected to be Ringgold (6-1) in the final game of the season. Ringgold may be the best team in the state that hasn’t been ranked this year. The Tigers have lost only to Central Carroll, which will finish second in Region 4.
The other two playoff spots should fall to Adairsville and the winner of the Sonoraville-LFO game on Nov. 8.
Region 6: St. Pius took a big step toward repeating with last week’s impressive win over Cedar Grove. But the Golden Lions still have to play Woodward Academy, Blessed Trinity and Decatur, a difficult road indeed.
Woodward, Cedar Grove and Blessed Trinity each have one region loss apiece, which makes this region very much up for grabs. Woodward (6-2) must only play St. Pius and Cedar Grove. Cedar Grove (6-2) has Woodward and Blessed Trinity. Blessed Trinity (4-3) has McNair, St. Pius and Cedar Grove.
The wild card is Decatur, which has two region losses, but closes with the easiest schedule: Towers and McNair. The Bulldogs hold the tiebreaker over Blessed Trinity, whom they defeated in overtime on Oct. 11.
Region 7: Buford will win the championship if it wins out against Fannin, East Hall and North Hall. The only question is the season-finale at North Hall, a task that didn’t get any easier because of North Hall’s upset loss to White County a week ago.
White County will finish second in the region if it wins out. The Warriors have games remaining against Dawson County, West Hall and Banks County. Dawson and West Hall are both in playoff contention.
The final playoff spot could come down to the final game of the season between Dawson County and West Hall.
Region 8: The winner of this week’s Hart County-Elbert County game should emerge as the region champion. But Hart still has to play North Oconee in the final game of the season. Those three will be in the playoffs and one of them will have to hit the road in the first round.
The fourth playoff spot remains very much up the air, with Jackson County, Morgan County and Oconee County still in the mix. It may come down the final game of the season between Morgan and Jackson.