Three Region 4-AAAAAA teams entered the weekend with unbeaten records in region play but only Tucker made it out unscathed, leaving the Tigers alone in first place with five weeks remaining in the high school football regular season.
Tucker (4-2, 4-0) took over the top spot Friday with a 23-16 victory over Lovejoy, which suffered its first region loss (3-1) and fell to 4-2 overall. Tucker won the region championship in 2016 and 2017 but finished in second place last year.
The region’s other unbeaten team, M.L. King, lost to defending region Stephenson 35-0 in a showdown of DeKalb County teams. M.L. King was trying to reach 5-0 for the first time since the 2012 team won the 6-AAAAA championship and finished 11-1. M.L. King and Stephenson are both 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the region, a half-game behind Lovejoy.
The race for the region title remains wide open for all four teams, however. M.L. King plays Lovejoy next weekend and Tucker on Oct. 25. Stephenson plays Lovejoy and Tucker on the final two weeks of the regular season.
Here are some of the other big stories in Class AAAAAA from Week 7 and their impact on the playoff races:
- Dalton’s Jahmyr Gibbs, the state’s leading rusher through the first half of the regular season, continued his torrid pace in the Catamounts’ 34-7 victory over River Ridge. The senior, who is committed to Georgia Tech, rushed for 317 yards and four touchdowns, according to the Dalton Citizen-News, giving him 1,681 yards for the season, an average of 280.2 per game. Dalton (5-1, 3-1) is in third place in Region 6, a game behind leaders Harrison (6-0, 4-0) and Allatoona (4-1, 4-0), who play each other next week.
- It appears more likely than not that Harrison, Allatoona and Dalton will finish in the top three spots in Region 6, in some order. If that’s the case, then defending region champion Creekview (4-2, 2-2) took a big step toward grabbing the fourth and final playoff berth with a 27-14 victory over Sequoyah. The victory leaves the Grizzlies, who have lost to Allatoona and Dalton, in fourth place. Sequoyah (2-3, 1-2), which was a quarterfinalist a year ago and has made three straight playoff appearances, fell into a tie for fifth.
- Two of the three Region 1 teams that were playing their final tune-ups for the start of region play next week came up on the losing end Friday. No. 4 Coffee lost 35-28 in an upset against a Godby team that came in 2-4 and was ranked as the No. 74 team in Florida by MaxPreps. No. 9 Houston County lost 29-14 to Class AAAAA No. 6 Warner Robins, which had beaten fellow Region 1 team Northside-Warner Robins 39-0 the previous week. No. 5 Lee County had a better night, beating Class AAAA Thomson 55-13.
- Alpharetta (3-2, 3-0) moved into a tie with idle Johns Creek (4-1, 3-0) for first place in Region 7 with a 48-0 victory over Centennial, but the bigger story from this region was North Atlanta’s 42-28 win over Northview. The Warriors (4-1, 2-1) moved into sole possession of fourth place. North Atlanta hasn’t had a winning season since 2010 or been to the playoffs since 1996. Second-year coach Sean O’Sullivan is 5-6 in region games after inheriting a team that was 5-47 in region play in the seven years before his arrival.
- Winder-Barrow picked up just its second victory of the season, but the Bulldoggs find themselves tied for first place in Region 8 after beating Apalachee 24-19 in the teams’ region opener. Apalachee cut the lead to five points with 1:54 remaining and recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Winder-Barrow, but a 2-yard loss, a sack and two incomplete passes ended the Wildcats’ last hope. Winder-Barrow is tied with top-ranked Dacula (42-7 winner over Gainesville) and No. 7 Lanier (42-22 over Habersham Central).
- Defending Region 5 champion Creekside (3-2, 2-0) can take over sole possession of first place, a half-game ahead of South Paulding (4-1, 3-0) and Mays (4-1, 3-0), if it beats Hughes at 1 p.m. Saturday at Creekside. Mays pulled even with the other two Friday when it knocked off Tri-Cities 47-6. South Paulding had the week off. Douglas County and Alexander have one loss each in region play.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.