The final week of the regular season is here and the classification is packed with matchups that will generate the closest thing to an actual playoff atmosphere. Five of the eight regions have already crowned their champions (R1 Carver-Columbus, R4 Woodward Academy, R5 Cartersville, R7 Blessed Trinity, R8 Oconee County), but playoff berths, seeding and region titles will be played for across the classification this weekend. Here are four of the most impactful matchups.
Westover vs. Hardaway At Mills Stadium
Westover and Hardaway will be battling for a playoff berth out of Region 1-AAAA on Friday, but the region’s playoff field likely will not be settled until Saturday when Americus-Sumter faces region champion Carver-Columbus. Americus-Sumter can clinch the No. 3 seed with a win over Carver-Columbus or a Westover victory over Hardaway regardless of the outcome of their matchup with Carver, because the Panthers lost to Hardaway and beat Westover and therefore would hold a two-way tiebreaker over Westover. As for the implications surrounding Westover and Hardaway, last season the Hawks defeated Westover 15-14 to secure the No. 4 seed and keep Westover out of the playoffs. The win moved Hardaway to 4-1 all-time against Westover.
Perry at West Laurens
Perry’s 21-17 win over Mary Persons last week set the stage for the Panthers to face off with West Laurens for this year’s Region 2-AAAA championship. West Laurens, which missed out on last year’s playoffs is 8-1 this season with its only loss coming to Class AAAAA South Effingham 31-30 on Sept. 20. The Raiders defeated Mary Persons 52-7 just two weeks ago and are coming off a 30-0 win over Upson-Lee. In total, West Laurens has outscored its four region opponents 174-20. Perry holds a 121-46 advantage over Region 2 opponents entering the showdown.
Heritage-Catoosa at Northwest Whitfield
Ridgeland, Heritage-Catoosa and Northwest Whitfield are all 4-1 in Region 6-AAAA heading into Week 12 and Pickens has already closed out a 4-2 region finish this past week. Pickens defeated Northwest Whitfield, but lost to Heritage-Catoosa and Ridgeland. Ridgeland defeated Heritage-Catoosa and Pickens, but lost to Northwest Whitfield. Ridgeland will likely improve to 5-1 in region play after facing 0-9 Southeast Whitfield on Friday. Whether that happens or not, Ridgeland will be pulling for Heritage-Catoosa to defeat Northwest Whitfield in order to keep them in the hunt for the top seed. A Northwest Whitfield victory against Heritage-Catoosa on Friday would give the Bruins the state title regardless of the Ridgeland outcome.
Flowery Branch at Denmark
Region champion Blessed Trinity and Marist have already taken Region 7-AAAA’s No. 1 and No. 2 seed and now Flowery Branch and Denmark will determine the 3 and the 4. Denmark dropped a 20-19 loss to Blessed Trinity and then fell 37-14 to Marist. Flowery Branch also lost to the Titans and Falcons, falling 20-17 in overtime to Blessed Trinity and 27-0 to Marist. Second-year Denmark has already guaranteed to make the playoffs for the first time in program history, but a win over Flowery Branch would definitely be a huge boost heading into it. The Denmark Danes have exceeded many expectations, but a massive victory (like one over Flowery Branch on Friday) is something the program is still in search of.
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