Class AAAAAA blog: No. 3 Harrison takes big step toward Region 6 title

Third-ranked Harrison moved into sole possession of first place in Region 6-AAAAAA and cleared the biggest remaining hurdle on the road to a region title when it rallied from a 17-7 halftime deficit and beat No. 5 Allatoona 21-17 Friday night at Allatoona.

Harrison improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the region, a game ahead of Allatoona (4-2, 4-1) and No. 8 Dalton (6-1, 4-1), which lost to Harrison 42-21 two weeks ago. The Hoyas need just two victories in their final three games – against Osborne, Sequoyah and Creekview, teams with a combined record of 7-12 – to claim their second region championship in three years.

Harrison’s Tommy Pollack recovered a fumble deep in Allatoona territory in the fourth quarter, and Marcus Bleazard scored two plays later on a 4-yard run for the game-winning points.

“I’m just proud of these guys for not panicking – and the coaching staff – and for us coming out in the second half and coming up with a big victory,” Harrison coach Matt Dickmann told Adam Carrington of the Marietta Daily Journal.

Allatoona travels to Dalton on Nov. 1 in a game that ultimately could determine second place, which would guarantee a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Here are some of the other big stories in Class AAAAAA from Week 8 and their impact on the playoff races:

- Northside-Warner Robins averaged 32 points per game in its 3-2 start but has now been shut out in back-to-back games after losing to Coffee 7-0 in the teams’ Region 1 opener. Coffee has held five of its seven opponents to eight points or less. Valdosta also won its region opener, beating Houston County 52-20. Two-time defending state champ Lee County was off and faces Northside next week.

- Bradwell Institute and Richmond Hill jumped out to the early lead in Region 2, which also had its first night of region play Friday. Bradwell Institute beat Effingham County, and Richmond Hill beat Brunswick 48-13. Glynn Academy, the five-team region’s three-time defending champion, had the week off and will travel to Richmond Hill next week. Bradwell Institute will be off next week.

- Alcovy ended a 19-game losing streak in region games when it beat Grovetown 28-21 Thursday night in the teams’ Region 3 opener. Grovetown is the defending region champ and was projected as a 13-point favorite by the Maxwell Ratings. One more victory might be enough to get Alcovy to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Evans and Heritage-Conyers won their Region 3 openers Friday.

- M.L. King bounced back from a 35-0 loss to Stephenson last week with an 18-12 overtime victory against Lovejoy, which was undefeated in region play two weeks ago but has since dropped into a tie for fourth place. M.L. King and Stephenson are tied for second, although Stephenson holds the tiebreaker. First-place Tucker was upset by Morrow 19-14 but retains a half-game lead over M.L. King and Stephenson.

- Region 5 has three remaining unbeaten teams after Mays beat Douglass County 38-13 and South Paulding beat Hughes 43-28 to move into tie for first place with defending champion Creekside, which had the week off. The loss was the second in region play for Douglas County, which fell to fifth place. Alexander quietly slipped into fourth place with a 42-14 victory over winless Tri-Cities.

- Johns Creek and Alpharetta put some separation between themselves and the rest of the pack in Region 7 when they shut out their closest pursuers, Pope (lost to Johns Creek 38-0) and North Atlanta (lost to Alpharetta 28-0). Johns Creek and Alpharetta remain unbeaten in region play and appear on a collision course to decide the region championship when they meet Nov. 1 at Johns Creek.

- Gainesville rebounded from a 42-7 loss to Dacula last week and ended a three-game losing streak when it beat Habersham Central 48-21 in the only game on the Region 8 schedule this week. Gainesville is 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the region, a half-game behind Dacula, Lanier and Winder-Barrow, all of which are 1-0 in league play. Habersham Central is 0-2 in the region and is off next week.