Lassiter was 10-0 and ranked No. 1 last season when beaten in the first round by Brookwood. A year later, Lassiter is a region champion again, but this time it would be a surprise to many if Lassiter didn’t lose in the first round.
If the computer Maxwell Ratings are correct, Region 7 will sweep the four games against Region 5 on Friday – Peachtree Ridge over Lassiter by six, North Gwinnett over Milton by 18, Collins Hill over Walton by 19 and Norcross over Etowah by 24.
Here is a look at the other region-to-region matchups in the first round:
Region 1 is heavily favored in three games against Region 3 (Camden County over Westlake, Colquitt County over Newnan, Lowndes over East Coweta), but the Hughes-Valdosta game is one of the more intriguing of the week. Region 3 champ Hughes has won nine straight games, but without a signature victory. Valdosta has lost four of its last six, including 38-17 last week against non-qualifier Coffee.
Region 4 is heavily favored in three games against Region 2 (North Cobb over Luella, Hillgrove over Alcovy, McEachern over Newton). Region 4’s No. 4 seed, Marietta, plays Region 2 champion Lovejoy. A year ago, Marietta stunned sixth-ranked Lowndes in the first round. This year, Lovejoy is ranked No. 6.
The most evenly matched regions are probably 6 and 8. Neither is given much credit this season. No. 4 Archer (10-0) is unbeaten, untied and untested, according to many. The Tigers play North Forsyth, which hasn’t won a playoff game since moving to the highest class in 2006. Region 6 champion Alpharetta (8-2) is a good bet against South Gwinnett. The Lambert-Brookwood and Dacula-West Forsyth games are probably the most difficult to predict of the first round.