Valdosta, Richmond Hill and Evans moved into sole possession of first place in their regions with big victories in Week 9 of the high school football season.
Second-ranked Valdosta (7-1, 2-0) is alone at the top of Region 1 after its 28-7 victory over No. 6 Coffee (6-2, 1-1), which lost for the second time in three weeks after starting the season 5-0. The win sets up a showdown for Valdosta next week against Lee County (6-1, 1-0), which beat Northside-Warner Robins 35-0 in its region opener. It was the third consecutive shutout loss for Northside (3-5, 0-2), which must win at least one of its final two games, against Valdosta and Houston County, to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 1991. Coffee fell into third place.
Richmond Hill is the leader in Region 2 after knocking off three-time defending region champion Glynn Academy 23-14. The Wildcats are seeking their first region title since 1996 and second overall. Richmond Hill (4-3, 2-0) is a half-game ahead of Bradwell Institute (3-3, 1-0), which was off this week. Glynn Academy (2-4, 0-1) is 11-2 in region games since the start of the 2016 season, with both losses coming against Richmond Hill.
Evans is the only remaining unbeaten team in Region 3 play after its 14-13 victory over Heritage-Conyers. Evans trailed 13-0 in the first half, but an interception return for a touchdown by Caleb Fleming with 11:42 remaining in the game gave Evans the winning points. Evans, the region champion in 2017, improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the region. Heritage, the region champ in 2016, fell into a group of four teams tied for second with 1-1 records that includes Lakeside-Evans, Alcovy and Greenbrier.
Here are some of the other big stories in Class AAAAAA from Week 9 and their impact on the playoff races:
- Sprayberry pulled off the biggest upset of the night, beating No. 8 Dalton 20-17. Dalton was a 19-point favorite, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings. Sprayberry held Dalton’s Jahmyr Gibbs, the state’s leading rusher, to 93 yards on 21 carries, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. Sprayberry’s victory produced a four-team group of two-loss teams – Dalton, Creekview, Sequoyah and Sprayberry – behind Region 6 leaders Harrison and Allatoona, which tied Hapeville Charter 21-21 Friday in a non-region game.
- Stephenson and M.L. King have moved into a three-way tie for first place in Region 4 with Tucker, which was off this week. M.L. King beat Forest Park 18-3 Thursday, and Stephenson beat Mundy’s Mill 28-6 Friday. M.L. King, Stephenson and Tucker are all 4-1 in the region, ahead of 4-2 teams Lovejoy and Morrow. Mundy’s Mill, a playoff team last year, was eliminated from the playoff race.
- Mays ended defending Region 5 champion Creekside’s 10-game winning streak in region games when it beat the Seminoles 28-12. Mays and South Paulding are the only remaining unbeaten teams in Region 5 play, and they will meet next Friday at Lakewood Stadium in a game that could decide the region championship. Creekside (4-3, 4-1) dropped into a third-place tie with Alexander.
- Pope picked up the key victory in Region 7 when it beat North Atlanta 23-14 to move into third place behind undefeated Johns Creek and Alpharetta, which have all but clinched the top two spots. The win moved Pope (5-3, 4-2) a step closer to its third consecutive playoff berth, which has happened just once in school history (2012-2014). North Atlanta fell into a tie for fifth place with Dunwoody.
- Top-ranked Dacula and No. 5 Lanier remained dominant in Region 8, as both improved to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the region. Dacula had little trouble with Apalachee 43-0. Lanier beat Winder-Barrow 27-7, handing the Bulldoggs their first loss in region play. Winder-Barrow and idle Gainesville are tied for third place. Habersham Central and Apalachee are still looking for their first region victories.
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