Here’s what to look for this weekend in Class AAAAA:
- Two regions will determine their championships with head-to-head meetings of the two leaders. One is 8-AAAAA, where rivals Flowery Branch and Gainesville are both undefeated in region play. Flowery Branch won 35-34 last year by stopping a late two-point conversion attempt, but Gainesville recovered to win the state championship. The other is 6-AAAAA, where Mays’ upset of Stephenson last week set up a showdown with top-ranked Tucker for the title. Mays won its only region championship in 2003.
- Creekside and Kell enter the weekend with 9-0 records and top-five rankings, but they’ll miss the playoffs if they don’t beat teams with losing records in the regular-season finales. That’s because they play in subdivided regions that hold winner-take-all play-in games that determine the state playoff representatives. Creekside faces Ola (2-7) in a 4-AAAAA, while Kell takes on Cambridge (3-6) in 7-AAAAA. Creekside and Kell will be the champions from their regions if they take care of business.
- Sixth-year program North Paulding will win its first region title if it beats Villa Rica in 5-AAAAA. If North Paulding loses, the title most likely will go to South Paulding, which is tied with the Wolfpack for first place and closes the regular season against Lithia Springs (0-9). North Paulding beat South Paulding on Oct. 4 to gain the tiebreaker edge. North Paulding quarterback Chase Noonan passed for 464 yards and six touchdowns in a 62-46 victory over Allatoona last week that set the Wolfpack up for the title shot.
- Thomas County Central will look to nail down the 1-AAAAA championship by avenging a surprising 18-12 loss to Harris County in 2012 that allowed the Tigers to take the region title. It was a game Thomas County Central felt it gave away with four turnovers, a missed extra point and a couple of critical penalties. “Where that execution came from, I don’t know,” Yellow Jackets coach Bill Shaver told the Thomasville Times-Enterprise after last year’s game. “I don’t have words to say why we executed that way.”
- Ware County will have the least stressful week of any of the region leaders after clinching the championship in 3-AAAAA last week. The Gators, who close out the regular season against Effingham County, hold a one-game lead over Richmond Hill but beat the Wildcats three weeks ago. In fact, this week’s game is probably more important to Effingham County, which has clinched a playoff berth but is still battling with Glynn Academy for third place in the region.
- Warner Robins will win its first region title since 2004 if it beats Lakeside of Evans in 2-AAAAA. The Demons are tied with city rival Northside for first place but hold the tiebreaker advantage after beating the Eagles 28-18 last week. If Warner Robins loses, Northside would take the title by beating Evans. If both teams lose, it’s possible for there to be a four-way tie for first that would include Lakeside and Houston County.