The first three weeks of the season have unveiled a multitude of intriguing plotlines throughout Class AAAA’s eight regions. Here is a region-by-region look at what has jumped out the most so far.
Four of the nine teams that reside in Region 1-AAAA have already played a region game and the rest are set for region openers this upcoming Week. Shaw defeated Northside-Columbus 47-26 before taking a bye this past week. Last year, Shaw was defeated by Northside-Columbus 48-15. It’s worth noting that junior running back Amir Harper, who accounted for 615 rushing yards and five touchdowns a year ago, is having an outstanding start to this season. Through the two games, Harper has picked up 405 rushing yards off of 35 carries (11.6 ypc) with five touchdowns. Shaw faces Dougherty this Thursday with the opportunity to be the first team in Region 1 to improve to 2-0 in conference play. As for the other Week 4 region matchups, Cairo (0-0) plays Northside-Columbus (0-1), Carver-Columbus (0-0) faces Hardaway (0-0) and Westover (0-0) squares off with Columbus (0-0).
West Laurens heads into a bye this week after opening the year 3-0 for the first time since 2015. The Raiders have been able to put up 37 ppg so far and this production has been built off a deep list of contributors. Quarterback A.J. Mathis has throws for 588 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Mathis has also rushed in two scores while his teammates Daniel Dorsey (22-169, 2TDs), Christian Covin (10-158-1) and Shonta Burney Jr. (17-106-2) have split carries out of the Raiders’ productive backfield.
Thomson looks like the frontrunner in Region 3 so far with its impressive 2-0 start. The Bulldogs opened up the year with a 26-0 win over North Augusta and followed it up with a 35-0 win over Eagle’s Landing this past week. This dominance is pointing a much better showing in non-region play from a year ago. Thomson took a 2-4 record into region play last season under first-year head coach Michael Youngblood. The program has an identical slate this season, so keep an eye out for how the they fare against Clarke Central, Greater Atlanta Christian, Grovetown and Lee County in the upcoming weeks.
Woodward Academy took the No. 3 seed last year behind Eastside and Salem, but the War Eagles are looking like clear favorites to earn this year’s top speed after their blazing 3-0 start. Defensive concerns were massive this past season, but this year the group is playing phenomenal. The War Eagles have scored impressive wins over Westminster (19-0), Grady (35-7) and Blessed Trinity (13-10) great execution on both sides of the football, including their 5.6 ppg allowed so far.
Cartersville defeated Luella 47-0 this past Friday night to score the program’s 50th straight regular season victory. The Purple Hurricanes are rolling at 2-0 and their 14-13 win over Allatoona Week 1 is looking more impressive after the Bucs’ 37-7 win over a ranked Creekview team last Friday. Cartersville appears to have plenty of competition waiting, however, once the region play gets here in a couple weeks. Sandy Creek is 2-0 with a 99-3 advantage in points and Troup is 2-0 with a 133-37 points advantage. Sandy Creek’s wins were over Whitewater (52-0) and Hampton (47-3) and Troup’s victories were over Ridgeland (65-24) and Columbus (68-13).
Defending Region 6 champion Pickens was defeated by Pepperell 34-20 last Friday night. Now, Heritage-Catoosa (3-0) will visit the Class AA based Dragons in a matchup that will reveal a lot about the Generals’ chances this season. Gilmer (2-1) and LaFayette (2-1) are the only other teams in Region 6 with winning records and both programs were defeated by Fannin County in their losses.
Blessed Trinity’s 23-game winning streak was snapped in their 13-10 loss to Woodward Academy, but the Titans are still well-equipped to seek a third-straight state title this year. That being said, the competition in Region 7 is arguably the toughest in the classification. After demolishing Lovett 49-0 in its opener, Marist defeated Canyon Springs (NV) 45-8. Additionally, Flowery Branch is 2-0 with an 88-0 scoring advantage, and Denmark is 2-0 with a 104-0 scoring output.
North Oconee is the only team in Region 8 that is yet to lose and the Titans (3-0) are looking stout heading into this week’s visit to Class AA’s Elbert County. Oconee County followed up its 28-21 loss to Clarke Central with a strong performance against Spalding this past week in a 35-13 victory. St. Pius is struggling so far in non-region play. The Golden Lions fell to Blessed Trinity 28-10, survived a 10-8 battle with Dunwoody and then got routed 42-14 by Westminster this past Friday. Stephens County (1-2) faces a major test this Friday against Class AA No. 7 Rabun County. Also, Madison County (2-1) will play a 3-0 Hart County team.