Region titles up for grabs in final week of regular season
Before we look ahead to the regions that have No. 1 playoff seeds up for grabs this week, let’s mention which regions have been clinched:
— No. 3 Westminster (7-2, 6-0) clinched the No. 1 seed from Region 5 last week after defeating Towers 44-14. The Wildcats will face the No. 4 seed from Region 7 in the first round of the playoffs. Westminster plays Stone Mountain Friday.
— Morgan County (7-2, 4-0) clinched the No. 1 seed from Region 8 after beating Franklin County 38-13 last week. It is the first region title for the Bulldogs since 2003. Morgan will face the No. 4 seed from Region 6 in the first round of the playoffs. Morgan plays Jackson County Friday.
— Jenkins (8-1, 6-0) won the Region 3 title after defeating Windsor Forest 55-28 last week.. The Warriors had not clinched a region title in 50 years. Jenkins will face the No. 4 seed from Region 1 in the first round. They play Beach Friday.
But the other regions have work to do, and it pretty much comes down to head-to-head play for the other No. 1 seeds. And that all takes place Friday.
— No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian (8-1, 5-0) will take on newly ranked No. 10 Dawson County (7-1, 5-0) at Tiger Stadium in Dawsonville to determine the Region 7 title. Dawson will have its hands full. The Spartans have not really been challenged since their 21-17 loss to Valor Christian from Colorado in the third game of the season. The 35-12 victory against Union County has been the closest game for a high-powered offense that is led by Stanford commitment Davis Mills, who is ranked as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation by most recruiting websites.
Coach Tim Hardy spent the week studying Dawson County and knows his team faces a challenge.
“We are super impressed and have a ton of respect for coach (Sid) Maxwell and this Dawson team.” said Hardy. “I really think they are an excellent football team. I think they are complete in many ways in terms of excellent talent and execution. They run it well and throw it well. They play good defense and have some great players on that side. And they’re doggone good on special teams. I think they have flown a little bit under the radar from what they deserve in terms of state-wide recognition.”
GAC has won six region titles since starting its program in 1991, and could make it three in a row with a victory.
— No. 2 Peach County (8-1, 5-0) will travel to Jackson (7-2, 5-0) to determine the Region 4 champion. The Trojans lost to Jackson 3-2 last season. And that score is not a typo.
Peach’s only loss this season came against Jake Fromm and the Houston County Bears in the first game of the season. Since then, the Trojans have built momentum. They have outscored opponents 180-7 in the last four games.
“Like I told the kids, Jackson is an explosive team.” said Peach coach Chad Campbell. “We can’t give up any explosive plays, and we have to create explosive plays. I feel good about where we are, and I think we have been playing good football. We have been taking care of the football. Our starters have not turned the ball over since the second game. Our kicking game has been really good, and our defense has been pretty solid in the last five or six games. Jackson has a fine football team. We do too. I think it will come down to, like I said, explosive plays. Not giving up any and playing clean football.”
— No. 4 Calhoun (7-2, 4-0) will face Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (1-8, 1-3), and on paper the Yellow Jackets should win and take home their 16th consecutive region title. Calhoun leads the South subregion at 4-0, and if North Murray (3-1) wins against Adairsville it will win the North. Calhoun defeated North Murray 31-7 in a head-to-head matchup this season, so Calhoun will be the region champion based on that tiebreaker, according to Calhoun coach Hal Lamb.
— No. 5 Crisp County (9-0, 3-0) will travel to Worth County (6-3, 3-0) to determine the Region 1 champion. If Crisp wins, it will be its first region title since 1995.
“It is going to be a hard-fought game,” said Crisp coach Shelton Felton. “It is an old South Georgia rivalry, Crisp and Worth. I think Worth is healthy, and they’re playing great. They run that Wing-T like the old days, and they run it so well. So it is going to be a dogfight. We are in pretty good shape. The kids are doing well. I am just proud that they are staying humble and still working. When you have never had success before, you kind of get in the clouds and forget how you got there. Now we are humble, and we are working hard. Like the old saying goes, we are just keeping our heads down and working.”
— No. 7 Liberty County (8-1, 4-0) will travel to No. 9 Pierce County (7-2, 4-0) to determine the Region 2 title. The Panthers are chasing their first-ever region title. Pierce has four, the most recent in 2012.
UGA commitment Richard LeCounte plays both ways for the Cougars, and he has put up impressive numbers this season. He has 26 receptions for 559 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense. On defense, LeCounte has made 63 tackles and has two interceptions. He has returned four kickoffs for touchdowns.
“We have to make sure that on defense that we play assignment football, be fundamentally sound and be physical.” said Liberty coach Kirk Warner. “They have a high-scoring offense with a great quarterback and have some receivers who can catch it. It seems like they have been playing together forever, because they know what each other is thinking. Our defensive backs have to cover the entire play because they improvise a lot, and they are great at what they do.”