Kell facing all-or-nothing game against Sprayberry

Perhaps no team in Class AAAAA has more at stake this week than Kell.

The Longhorns can win subregion B of 7-AAAAA by beating Sprayberry on Friday. A Kell victory would create either a two-way tie with Riverwood (off this week) or a three-way tie with Riverwood and Cambridge (plays Forsyth Central) for first place in the subregion. In both cases, Kell holds the tiebreaker advantage.

The subregion B champion will play subregion A winner Dalton in the region championship game next week, with both teams guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs. Kell beat Dalton 16-14 for the 7-AAAAA title last season.

A loss by Kell, on the other hand, likely would mean that the Longhorns would fail to reach the postseason for the first time in coach Derek Cook’s eight years at the school. Assuming Cambridge beats Forsyth Central (Cambridge is projected as a 20-point favorite by the computer Maxwell Ratings), a Sprayberry victory would leave the Yellow Jackets and Longhorns tied for third place in the subregion, with Sprayberry holding the tiebreaker because of the head-to-head victory. Only the top three teams in each subregion participate in the region play-in games for a berth in the state playoffs. The other teams in the region play crossover games to close out the season.

It has been an uphill climb for Kell (6-2, 4-1) after losing to Cambridge 21-7 in the second subregion game. The Longhorns responded with lopsided victories against North Springs, Riverwood and North Atlanta. Riverwood’s 49-26 victory over Cambridge last week gave Kell another shot at the subregion title.

“A couple weeks back when things weren’t going our way, we had a team meeting,” Derek Cook told the Marietta Daily Journal. “We decided we needed to get back to basics and become a more physical team like we used to be. We’ve started running the ball more effectively, and stopping the run. The focus isn’t really on what’s happening on the other side, it’s about us and what we’re doing. I think that’s shown up in games.”

Region 7 isn’t the only one in which a championship will be decided this week. Here are some of the other regions, or subregions, where titles will be at stake:

Region 1: Northside-Columbus and Carver-Columbus are undefeated in region play, and the winner of their game at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium will clinch the championship. Northside has never beaten Carver or won a region title. Carver can finish no lower than second place in the region. Northside could fall as low as third place if it loses to Carver and against LaGrange next week.

Region 4: Defending champion Stockbridge claimed its spot in the region championship game with a victory against Woodland-Stockbridge last week to win subregion B. The Tigers' opponent will be the winner of Friday's game between unbeaten teams Starr's Mill and Northgate. The loser would face a play-in game against the third-place team from subregion B for a state playoff berth.

Region 6: The subregion A championship will be on the line when Stephenson and Southwest DeKalb meet at Hallford Stadium. The winner will face Mays next week for the region title. A loss would leave Stephenson facing a play-in game against Carver-Atlanta for a state playoff berth. Southwest DeKalb could finish as low as third in the subregion if it loses and Miller Grove beats Druid Hills.

Region 8: Lanier has won 21 consecutive regular-season games, and another victory this week against Winder-Barrow (or next week against 0-8 Apalachee) will give the Longhorns their second straight region championship. Winder-Barrow is tied with Gainesville for third place, and those teams are battling with second-place Loganville and fifth-place Flowery Branch for the final three playoff spots.