4 regions dive into league play this week

Gainesville and Langston Hughes met in the Class 6A championship game Friday at Center Parc Stadium. (Jamie Spaar/For the AJC)

Credit: Jamie Spaar/For the AJC

Credit: Jamie Spaar/For the AJC

Gainesville and Langston Hughes met in the Class 6A championship game Friday at Center Parc Stadium. (Jamie Spaar/For the AJC)

After four weeks during which region games were scare, the pace of those games in Class 6A will pick up dramatically in Week 5 of the high school football regular season.

Region 3 (home of No. 9 Woodward Academy), Region 5 (defending state champion Hughes) and Region 6 (No. 6 Rome) will have full schedules of league games this weekend, while Region 8 (top-ranked Gainesville) will get region play under way with two games.

Here’s a look at the region games being played this week and how they could shape the playoff races in those regions:

Region 3

Mundy’s Mill and Morrow got an early leg up in the playoff race when they won region games in Week 1 of the regular season. Mundy’s Mill’s win, 20-12 against Lovejoy, was significant because it avenged a 2022 loss that ultimately decided second and third place in the region. The Tigers are 3-0 for the first time since 2005 and face Alcovy this week. Morrow will try to keep pace but has a tough task this week when it hosts defending region champion Woodward Academy. Jonesboro, projected to finish in second place behind Woodward Academy by the computer Maxwell Ratings, hosts Forest Park this week, while Rockdale County plays at Lovejoy.

Region 5

East Paulding finished seventh in the eight-team region last season, but the Raiders are in first place after a 44-7 victory over Paulding County last week in the only region game played so far. East Paulding travels this week to South Paulding, which was the region runner-up last year but is off to an 0-3 start, and Paulding County hosts Newnan. Hughes, the overwhelming favorite, begins its region title defense against New Manchester, which was 0-10 last season and is off to a 1-2 start this year. The most intriguing game of the week is Douglas County at Alexander. Those are two of the three teams in the region, along with Hughes, that have winning records.

Region 6

Rome, the defending region champion and the favorite this season, has the week off. The team to watch here is Etowah, which is 4-0 in non-region games. The Eagles had the same record at this point last year but went 1-5 in region play and finished in sixth place. Their region opener this week against Sequoyah will be an indicator, as the Maxwell Ratings project them to finish third and fourth in the region, respectively. Creekview missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2019 but appears to have bounced back with a 3-1 start. The Grizzlies take on struggling Allatoona this week. River Ridge and Woodstock kick off region play Thursday night.

Region 8

Gainesville is the defending region champion and a heavy favorite this season. The Red Elephants have won 14 consecutive regular-season games under second-year coach Josh Niblett and look to make it 15 against Apalachee in the region opener this week. The other region game Friday is North Forsyth hosting Jackson County. North Forsyth was the region runner-up in 2022 but has struggled to a 1-3 start this season. Lanier, Habersham Central and Shiloh play non-region games this week and begin league play next week. Lanier (2-1) is improved from last year’s fourth-place team and is pegged as Gainesville’s top challenger by the Maxwell Ratings.