Playoff races are wide open in Regions 7 and 8

Today we continue our look at the playoff chances for Class AAAAA teams by focusing on Regions 7 and 8, where the races for the top four spots appear to be wide open.

Which teams on the lists below are getting too much credit? Which ones are being underestimated?

Next week we’ll look at Regions 4 and 6.

Region 7-AAAAA

*Locks: Kell

The third-ranked Longhorns won the region title in 2012 and 2013 and have won 21 consecutive regular-season games. Kell will be favored to win all of its remaining subregion B games, the region championship and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

*Likely: Dalton, Riverwood

Dalton appears to be the strongest team in subregion A and is on track to earn a playoff berth in its first season after moving up from Class AAAA. Riverwood (4-0, 1-0) has outscored its opponents 155-23 and should win a play-in game to earn a state playoff berth.

*On the bubble: Cambridge, Sprayberry, Creekview, Sequoyah

Projecting playoff berths from subdivided regions is complicated by the region play-in system. Cambridge and Sprayberry from subregion B and Creekview and Sequoyah from subregion A are the teams likely to be involved. At that point, one win is all it takes.

*Long shots: Forsyth Central, Cass, Rome

Forsyth Central gave Kell a battle last weekend, but the Bulldogs will need to start winning subregion games soon to be in position to play for a playoff berth. Cass hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2006, but the Colonels have a victory against Forsyth Central to their credit this season. Rome is 0-3, but two of the losses were by three points or less, so the jury is still out on the Wolves.

*Not this year: Woodland-Cartersville, River Ridge, North Atlanta, North Springs

Woodland has just one winning season and one playoff appearance in its 17 season of football. River Ridge made the playoffs in 2012 but is 4-10 since then. North Atlanta scored a total of three points in losses to River Ridge, Dalton and Riverwood. North Springs is 2-52 since the start of the 2009 season.

Region 8-AAAAA

*Locks: Lanier, Gainesville

Lanier reached the second round of the playoffs in Class AAAA last year, and the Longhorns are off to a 4-0 start (3-0 in region) this year, with impressive victories against Clarke Central and Flowery Branch. Gainesville, the defending region champion, appears to have recovered from a 39-0 loss to Class AAAAAA Grayson in its opener, winning its first two region games by a combined 94-13.

*Likely: Salem

The Seminoles haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and were 3-7 last year, so they still have something to prove. But they are already 3-0 in the region. If they only win the remaining games in which they’ll be favored, that should be enough to get them in.

*On the bubble: Winder-Barrow, Loganville, Clarke Central, Heritage-Conyers, Flowery Branch

Winder-Barrow is the surprise of the league at 2-1 in the region, but it will need to pull off a few more upsets to make its first playoff appearance since 2003. Loganville has just one region loss, but it came against Winder-Barrow and could be costly in case of a tiebreaker. Clarke Central, Heritage and Flowery Branch already have two region losses and hold the sixth, seventh and eighth spots in the standings, but it’s hard to discount three teams that have been such playoff regulars.

*Long shots: None

*Not this year: Cedar Shoals, Apalachee

Scott Wilkins, the winningest coach in Cedar Shoals history, is back for his second term with the Jaguars, but it’s too early in his tenure for Cedar Shoals to contend. Apalachee already has three region losses this year and has lost 14 consecutive games overall.