It might be more trivial than significant, but a quick look at how the region races might shape up reveals that most are probably going to have a new winner.
The only defending region champions in Class AAAAAAA that have been in the rankings each of the first four weeks are North Gwinnett and Walton. They are favored to repeat.
Meanwhile, teams that haven’t won region titles since 2004 (Parkview) and 2005 (Marietta) are favored to break through this year. And another team to beat (Milton) has won only two region titles in its history, the last in 2014. And don’t forget that Colquitt County and Grayson didn’t win their regions last year.
Are times a changin’? Not really. It’s just ain’t easy to repeat in the high class.
Here’s how things are shaping up region-by-region after four weekends of play.
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Region 1 – Lowndes won Region 1 last year, if anyone needed reminding. But Colquitt County (4-0) has won its four games this year by an average score of 40-9, and all four opponents were respectable. Those challenges continue this week when the Packers are at home to Warner Robins, the No. 3 team in Class AAAAA. Next comes a trip to No. 4 Grayson, the preseason No. 1, in a game that will shape expectations of the high class for the rest of the season. Everyone else is this healthy region is 3-1. Lowndes lost to Parkview; Tift County lost to Warner Robins and will play Parkview this week. Both are to be taken seriously by Colquitt and anyone else. Camden County lost to Wren of South Carolina and looks strong enough this year to get in the playoffs.
Region 2 – The region went 0-4 last week and doesn’t have a team that’s sniffing the top 10 right now. Wheeler is 3-0 and has beaten Lambert, which is 3-1, so the Wildcats are pretty good and will have their chance to prove themselves against non-region Roswell (3-0) in two weeks. (Wheeler hasn’t won a region title since 2006, just in case.) Westlake (2-1) is favored to win a fifth straight region title in a row. The Lions lost last week in south Florida to nationally ranked Deerfield Beach 40-16. They are home to Grayson this week.
Region 3 – Deepest region in the class. Hillgrove, North Cobb and North Paulding are 3-0, and one of them probably won’t make the playoffs. Marietta is 1-3 and is likely to region favorite. Marietta has not won a region title since 2005. Marietta has lost to three nationally ranked teams, most recently Grayson 38-31. Marietta beat Collins hill 38-13. Second-ranked Walton beat Collins Hill only 29-25. McEachern (2-1) has lost only to Colquitt County, albeit by a lot (41-7), but might still be the second favorite here. Defending region champ Hillgrove (3-0) is ranked in some polls, and has played well, but doesn’t have a defining win. Neither does North Cobb (3-0) or North Paulding (3-0).
Region 4 – What’s historically been a balanced league appears at the moment to be a two-team race. Roswell (3-0) is at home this week to Region 5 favorite and No. 3-ranked Milton (3-0). That should tell us more about the Hornets, who are coming off a 3-8 finish that made those 14-1 finishes in 2015 and 2016 distant memories. Walton, ranked No. 2, plays at No. 5 North Gwinnett (2-1), the defending class champion. Walton didn’t look great in beating Collins Hill and needs to play well to justify its high ranking.
Region 5 – Milton (3-0) appears to have its best team in years and is the first team out of this region since it formed in 2016 to be highly ranked (No. 3 currently). That’s for having beaten Archer, Alpharetta and Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.), three ranked teams. Next comes Roswell (3-0) in what will be a telling game for both. South Forsyth (3-1), the defending champion, remains a solid contender and has looked good when not playing Blessed Trinity (lost 35-6).
Region 6 – North Gwinnett (2-1) is the defending class champ and heavily favored here. In fact, North is the most likely of eight region champs to repeat. It’s still a good region, but every other team here has been blown out at least once.
Region 7 – Parkview, ranked No. 6, gets another test when it plays at Tift County this week. Then comes a home game against No. 3 Milton. Win those, and the Panthers will be facing a potential 10-0 record and top-three state ranking entering the playoffs. The region isn’t as strong this year, although Norcross, rebuilding Brookwood and dare-we-say Meadowcreek can be tough outs. Brookwood won here last year.
Region 8 – Grayson was ranked No. 1 in preseason. Archer was No. 3. Both have lost, but don’t rule out that either will be there in the end. Both play pretty good teams this week – Archer at Norcross, Grayson at Westlake. Grayson and Archer meet Oct. 12. Archer won their meeting last year 6-3, and with it the region title.