Class AAAAAA blog: Valdosta, Coffee to battle for first place in Region 1

Credit: Adam Krohn

Credit: Adam Krohn

Region play in 1-AAAAAA is only a week old, but the pecking order already has started to emerge in the classification’s toughest region.

Second-ranked Valdosta (6-1, 1-0) opened region play with a 52-20 victory over Houston County, and the Wildcats had all of their offensive weapons on display. T.J. Dailey rushed for 91 yards and four touchdowns. Tate Rodemaker was 14-of-28 passing for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Javonte Sherman had four receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

It was Valdosta’s seventh consecutive victory against Houston County, the third straight in which it scored 50 points or more, and the Wildcats’ 11th win in 12 all-time meetings.

Sixth-ranked Coffee (6-1, 1-0) got a 1-yard touchdown run from Josiah Killiebrew with 11:56 remaining in the second quarter and made it hold up in a 7-0 victory over Northside-Warner Robins. Coffee held Northside to 187 yards and 10 first downs.

This week, Valdosta and Coffee will face each other in Douglas with sole possession of first place on the line. The winner’s stay at the top could be temporary, however, because both still have to deal with fourth-ranked Lee County, which was off last week and opens its region schedule Friday against Northside. Lee County (5-1, 0-0) is the two-time defending champion of Class AAAAAA as well as Region 1. Valdosta will be at home against Lee County next week. Coffee will travel to Leesburg on Nov. 8 in the regular-season finale.

Houston County and Northside were ranked earlier this season, but both have struggled lately. Houston County has lost three straight after a 4-0 start. Northside opened with a 46-13 victory over Centennial but has since lost four of six, including the past two by shutout.

It’s looking more and more like these two teams will be battling for their playoff lives when they meet Nov. 8 in the regular-season finale at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.

Here are five other games involving Class AAAAAA teams to keep an eye on Friday night:

*Allatoona at Hapeville Charter: Allatoona (4-2) will try to bounce back from its loss to Harrison last week when it travels to Tri-Cities to take on Hapeville Charter (5-1), the No. 2 team in Class AA. This is the highest-profile non-region game left anywhere in the state over the final four weeks of the season. Allatoona won 23-14 last year, handing Hapeville its only loss of the regular season.

*Evans at Heritage-Conyers: Evans, Heritage and Alcovy were the winners in the first weekend of Region 3 play, so the winner of this game will come out of it in no worse than a tie with Alcovy for first place. Evans won the region in 2017 and finished in fourth place last year. Heritage won it in 2016 but has finished in third and fifth the past two seasons. Evans beat Heritage 31-13 in 2018.

*Glynn Academy at Richmond Hill: Glynn Academy (2-3, 0-0), the three-time defending champion of Region 2, kicks off its region schedule against Richmond Hill (3-3, 1-0), which beat Brunswick in its region opener last week. Richmond Hill can take sole possession of first place with a victory. A win would put Glynn in a first-place tie with Bradwell Institute (3-3, 1-0), which is off.

*Mays at Creekside: Defending region champion Creekside, Mays and South Paulding are tied for first place in Region 5, each with a 4-0 record in region play. The winner of this game is almost certain to be the region champion if it also beats South Paulding. Mays plays the Spartans next week at Lakewood Stadium. Creekside will face South Paulding at home Nov. 8 in the regular-season finale.

*Pope at North Atlanta: Johns Creek and Alpharetta, both unbeaten in region play, are running away with the top two places in Region 7, so two-loss teams Pope, North Atlanta and Northview appear to be fighting it out for the final two playoff berths. North Atlanta (4-2, 2-2) beat Northview (4-3, 2-2) two weeks ago and would have the tiebreaker advantage if it also beats Pope (4-3, 3-2).