Class AAAAAA blog: Five projected playoff teams that are on the bubble

Credit: Adam Krohn

Credit: Adam Krohn

With two weeks remaining in the high school football regular season, at least 13 of the 32 playoff berths in Class AAAAAA have already been clinched.

Several teams that reached the playoffs in 2018 and were expected to be factors again this season, such as Northgate of Region 5 and Centennial of Region 7, are already out of the race.

Others that were projected by the computer Maxwell Ratings to be playoff teams this year find themselves in precarious positions heading into the final two weekends of the season.

Here are five teams that were projected as playoff teams that are facing must-win situations, and in some cases needing some help to reach the postseason:

*Northside-Warner Robins (Region 1): It's hard to imagine the playoffs without Northside, which hasn't missed the postseason since 1991. The Eagles currently are tied with Houston County for fourth place in the five-team region, but both teams control their fate. Regardless of what happens this week – Northside hosts No. 4 Valdosta and Houston hosts No. 3 Lee County – the winner of the Houston County-Northside game on Nov. 8 will be the fourth playoff team along with Lee County, Coffee and Valdosta.

*Effingham County (Region 2): Effingham County was the five-team region's No. 2 seed last year after finishing in a three-way tie for second place with Richmond Hill and Bradwell Institute. A similar scenario is probably the Rebels' best hope this year, but the task will be difficult. Effingham will have to win this week against Glynn Academy to stave off elimination but probably would need to also beat Richmond Hill next weekend to have shot at a playoff spot. Unfortunately for the Rebels, Glynn Academy and Richmond Hill are the region's two highest-rated teams. Effingham County made the playoffs five of the previous seven seasons.

*Grovetown (Region 3): Grovetown was the region champion last season but finds itself with a huge uphill climb just to reach a position of being tied for the fourth playoff spot. The Warriors' best hope involves the following: win their last two games against Heritage-Conyers and Evans; have Heritage also lose its season finale against Lakeside-Evans; and have Alcovy and Greenbrier, which play each other next weekend, lose this week's games. That would leave Grovetown, Heritage and the Alcovy-Greenbrier winner in a tie for third place, with the region tiebreaker set to decide which of the three is on the outside looking in.

*Pope (Region 7): Pope had a chance to get a firm grasp on third place behind Johns Creek and Alpharetta last week but lost to Cambridge 59-21. The Greyhounds can still clinch third place with a victory at Northview on Friday. If Pope loses, however, it likely would need North Atlanta to lose one of its last two games against Centennial and Chattahoochee, which are the two teams at the bottom of the standings with combined region records of 1-11. The possibility exists, although remote, that Pope, North Atlanta, Northview, Cambridge and Dunwoody could all finish 4-4 in the region. That would make for one heck of a tiebreaking process.

*Winder-Barrow (Region 8): The Bulldoggs finished in last place in the six-team region last year but were projected as the fourth-place team this year by Maxwell. Winder-Barrow is in fourth place going into the weekend but faces Habersham Central in a game that likely will send the winner to the playoffs. Winder-Barrow's only hope for getting in if its loses to Habersham would be for the Bulldoggs to beat No. 1-ranked Dacula in the season finale and hope for an Apalachee victory over Habersham. Otherwise, the result would be a three-way tie for fourth place that would be left in the hands of the region tiebreakers.