What to watch: Week 11
This week in AA doesn’t feature any matchups between top 10 teams, but there are three ranked teams that face region opponents with winning records and playoff seeds at stake.
In Region 5, the No. 4 Callaway Cavaliers (8-0, 3-0) put their perfect record on the line when they travel to the Spencer Greenwave Owls (6-2, 3-0). These are the only remaining teams with undefeated Region 5 records. If the Cavs win — this week’s Maxwell Projections have them as a 19-point favorite — they win the region and earn a No. 1 seed, even if they somehow lose to Jordan (0-8) in their season finale, because they will own tiebreakers over Spencer and No. 10 Heard County. If the Greenwave Owls pull off the upset, they’d still have to beat Heard County in their finale to win the region and that’s no easy feat.
Cavs coach Pete Wiggins will be seeking his 100th career win, with all victories coming at Callaway, where he’s been in charge since 2005. The two teams haven’t played since 2011, when Callaway won 42-0. The two teams have met four times overall, with those games coming between 2008-’11 and the Cavs outscoring Spencer a combined 167-19.
The good news for the Greenwave Owls is there’s no players from either team who take the field that were involved in those lopsided contests of the past. The Greenwave Owls are coming into this game hot off two consecutive shutouts over Temple (32-0) and Lamar County (39-0), so they probably won’t be intimidated by Callaway. On the contrary, their confidence will be at an all-time high.
Will that translate to a competitive football game? It could. Spencer is led by second-year coach Pierre Coffey, who last year in his first season with the program delivered the Greenwave Owls their first winning season in nearly four decades when they finished 8-4. Their last winning season before that was when they finished 7-3 in 1977. They also won a playoff game last year for the first time since 1967.
(For more on the Callaway-Spencer game, see Kevin Eckleberry’s preview in the Lagrange Daily News.)
In a game that will determine second place in Region 2 and the privilege to host the first round of the state playoffs, the No. 7 Vidalia Indians (6-2, 4-1) play on the road against the Toombs County Bulldogs (6-2, 4-1). Maxwell Projections have this game being close, with the Bulldogs a two-point favorite at home.
The Indians are on a three-game win streak since losing 27-6 to Benedictine on Sept. 23. They’ve beat Bacon County, Jeff Davis and Swainsboro 108-20, including a 35-0 shutout over Swainsboro last week. The Indians beat Toombs County 31-20 last year, extending their win streak over the Bulldogs to seven games dating back to 2009.
The Bulldogs’ 11-point loss to Vidalia was the closest they’ve come to the Indians during Vidalia’s win streak in the series. But this year’s Bulldogs are a changed team under first-year coach Richie Marsh. They’ve already clinched their first winning season since 2012 after finishing 2-8 the past two seasons. Their only region loss was 42-13 to Benedictine two weeks ago.
In Region 1, the No. 6 Brooks County Trojans (6-2, 2-1) travel to play the Thomasville Bulldogs (4-3, 3-0). The injury-plagued Trojans are coming off a 40-7 loss to No. 2 Fitzgerald, and that game saw yet another Trojan suffer an injury with linebacker/safety Kendrick Wade leaving in the third quarter. Nonetheless, Maxwell Projections have the Trojans as a 13-point favorite. They beat the Bulldogs 55-14 last year and own a five-game win streak in the series dating back to 2011.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, could still win the region if it can upset Brooks County and Fitzgerald the next two weeks, though that’s an incredibly tall order. They’re in this position because they’ve taken care of business against the rest of the region, beating Berrien (21-10), Early County (44-0) and Albany (55-12). They’ve also faced some tough tests this season, playing AAAA’s No. 5 Cairo competitively in a 23-12 loss. While it may be far-fetched for them to beat the Purple Hurricane, they have a shot against the Trojans.
Other matchups involving ranked AA teams: Metter (2-5, 1-4 Region 2) at No. 1 Benedictine (8-0, 5-0)*; No. 2 Fitzgerald (7-1, 3-0 R1) at Early County (0-7-1, 0-3); No. 3 Jefferson County (8-0, 5-0 R4) at Josey (4-4, 3-2 R4); Oglethorpe County (0-8, 0-5 R8) at Rabun County (7-0, 4-0); Glen Hills (3-5, 2-3 R4) at Screven County (7-1, 5-0); No. 9 Pepperell (6-1, 5-0 R7) at Armuchee (2-6, 1-4); Lamar County (4-4, 1-2 R5) at No. 10 Heard County (6-2, 2-1).
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