7A preview: 3 games expected to decide region titles
They are South Forsyth-Milton, Walton-Roswell and Archer-Grayson. Although it’s early, these are teams that are projected to finish 1-2 in the regions.
And then there’s No. 2 Lowndes vs. No. 9 Tift County. They also could finish 1-2 in their region, but No. 6 Colquitt County will have a big say in that.
Here is a region-by-region look at the key games and races in the high class this week:
Region 1 – The four-team round-robin that is the Region 1 race begins tonight as No. 2 Lowndes (7-0) plays at No. 9 Tift County (7-0), and No. 6 Colquitt County (6-1) travels to Camden County (3-3). Two prime contenders for offensive player of the year in this class are in the Lowndes-Tift game. Lowndes QB Michael Barrett has thrown for 947 yards and run for 530. Tift County WR Rashod Bateman (committed to Minnesota) has 38 catches for a state-leading 898 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the GHSF Daily’s Top 10 Games, it was noted at Tift County has not played in a game between two ranked teams in the same class since 2006. In that one, Tift beat Lowndes 13-3 and went on to win the region, which is Tift’s only region title in 30 years. Lowndes missed the playoffs that year because of that loss. The Maxwell Ratings favor Lowndes by 11 and Colquitt by 22.
Region 2 – Pebblebrook (3-3, 1-1) plays at Westlake (3-3, 1-0), and the winner is the region front-runner. Currently, that title belongs firmly with Westlake, the defending champion. Westlake is favored here by 15 points, according to the Maxwell Ratings. Westlake beat East Coweta (4-2, 0-1) last week in what most suspect was the unofficial region championship, but Pebblebrook is up and coming. The Falcons have lost three games – none by more than four points. That includes a 24-21 loss to North Cobb in overtime. Newnan (2-4, 1-0) plays at Campbell (2-4, 0-1), and East Coweta plays at Wheeler (2-4, 0-1).
Region 3 – Hillgrove (4-2, 1-0) plays at Marietta (5-0, 1-0), and the winner is the prime challenger to 10th-ranked McEachern (4-2, 1-0) for the region title. North Cobb (4-2, 0-1) plays at North Paulding (5-1, 0-1) in a game in which the loser is in sudden danger of not making the playoffs. North Paulding started 5-0 before a 16-14 loss last week to Hillgrove. North Cobb lost to McEachern 27-21 last week. North Cobb is hurting with injuries and a starting quarterback who left the team.
Region 4 – Fourth-ranked Walton (6-0, 1-0) plays at Roswell (2-4, 1-0) in a game that could decide the region champion. Roswell is the defending champion but rebuilding while Walton is a young team with a great junior class and favored by 15. Lassiter (4-2, 0-1) plays at Woodstock (4-2, 1-0) in another key matchup. Woodstock has one of the best passing offenses in this class. Maxwell pegs Lassiter as a one-point favorite.
Region 5 – South Forsyth (6-0, 1-0) at Milton (5-1, 1-0) has all the markings of a region title game. Neither is ranked by GHSF Daily, but both have at least one Top 10 ranking among the six state polls. Milton is No. 11 in the Maxwell Ratings. Milton’s loss was to sixth-ranked North Gwinnett 31-28. The teams have one common opponent, Roswell. Milton beat the Hornets 40-7. South beat Roswell 17-16 in overtime. Maxwell has Milton as a two-point favorite.
Region 6 – Mountain View (6-1, 2-1) at Collins Hill (4-3, 1-1) and Mill Creek (5-2, 2-1) at Peachtree Ridge (1-5, 1-1) will sort out the pecking order behind clear favorite and fifth-ranked North Gwinnett (5-1, 2-0). Maxwell favors Mill Creek by 27 and Mountain View by 11.
Region 7 – Central Gwinnett (5-2, 2-1) takes on seventh-ranked Brookwood (4-2, 2-0) in this region’s top game. Central has the classification’s leading passer, Jarren Williams, a Kentucky commit, but Brookwood is a 20-point favorite. A Brookwood victory would set up a huge game next week with Parkview (4-2, 2-0).
Region 8 – No. 3 Archer (6-0, 1-0) travels to No. 1 Grayson (6-0, 1-0) in a game that almost certainly will determine this region’s No. 1 seed. Archer barely escaped Newton 20-19 last week. Grayson has shown little sign of weakness and is a 12-point favorite.