For previews of the Fitzgerald-Thomasville and Jefferson County-Putnam County games, see the GHSF Daily’s top 10 games here.
Washington County Golden Hawks at Bleckley County Royals
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Shelly Hayes Field at Royal Stadium, Cochran
Records, rankings: Washington County is 4-3, 2-1 in Region 3 and unranked; Bleckley County is 6-2, 3-1 and No. 9.
Last meeting: Bleckley County won 21-18 in 2019.
Maxwell’s projection: Bleckley County by 4
Notes: This matchup could decide the 3-2A’s No. 2 seed, a distinction that guarantees at least one home playoff game. Currently, the Royals are in second place and Washington County is tied with Dodge County for third place, with the latter two having played one less game than the Royals. The Royals are coming off a devastating, last-second 37-34 loss to Northeast that, in all likelihood, cost them their shot at their first region title in program history. The loss also snapped a five-game win streak that included playoff contenders South Atlanta, Vidalia and Dodge County. They responded to their other loss of the season — a 21-20 defeat at the hands of 1A Public’s No. 7 Wilcox County on Sept. 11 — with a 44-6 win over South Atlanta the following week. In the series, which began in 2016, the Royals and Golden Hawks have alternated winning, with the Golden Hawks striking first with a 39-7 victory. The Royals won 42-28 in 2017, and the Golden Hawks won 54-20 in 2018. If the pattern continues, it’s the Golden Hawks' turn to win this year. The Golden Hawks are 4-1 after losing their first two games (20-14 to Swainsboro; 28-14 to 3A’s Thomson), with their opener booting them for good from the polls, where they were No. 7 heading into the season. The Royals will be the first ranked team they’ve played this season. Golden Hawks running back Malyk Walker was the state’s sixth-leading rusher heading into last week with 1,086 yards. They’re coming off a 63-0 win over Southwest, a rebound from their 25-24 loss to Northeast in their previous game.
Early County Bobcats at Cook Hornets
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Cook Memorial Stadium, Adel
Records, rankings: Early County is 4-2, 1-2 in Region 1 and unranked; Cook is 5-3, 2-1 and No. 10.
Last meeting: Early County won 27-20 in 2019.
Maxwell’s projection: Cook by 5
Notes: The loser of this game is most likely stuck with the No. 4 seed and forced on the road to play the No. 1 seed from Region 4, which should be either Putnam County of Jefferson County. The Bobcats have beaten the Hornets in each of the last two seasons. The series, which began in 1980, is 12-11 in the Hornets' favor. The Bobcats had climbed to as high as No. 5 in the rankings as recently as Oct. 16, but then lost decisively in their first two league games against then-No. 8 Thomasville and No. 2 Fitzgerald by a combined score of 53-21. They rebounded from the skid to beat Berrien 70-20 last week — the most points they’ve scored since beating Terrell County 77-0 in 1975. The Hornets were also blown out by Thomasville — the Bulldogs are now No. 6 — by a score of 42-6 last week. That snapped a four-game win streak that earned them a spot in the rankings, where they remain by a thread. All three of their losses this season have come to ranked teams, including 5A’s No. 6 Ware County (38-6) and 1A Public’s No. 1 Brooks County (25-20). They are 1-3 against ranked teams, having beat 1A Public’s No. 4 Irwin County 21-20.
Northeast Raiders at Dodge County Indians
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium at John M. Peacock Field, Eastman
Records, rankings: Northeast is 5-1, 3-0 in Region 3 and No. 8; Dodge County is 3-3, 2-1 and unranked.
Last meeting: Dodge County won 35-29 in 2019.
Maxwell’s projection: Northeast by 1
Notes: The Raiders can all but clinch 3-2A with a win, and it would be their first region championship since 2009. It won’t be easy, however, as they’ve lost to the Indians every year since the series renewed in 2016. The other two meetings came in 2002-03, when the Raiders won by a combined 64-6. The Raiders' only loss came in their second game, to 6A’s Brunswick, by a score of 41-12 on Sept. 24. They’ve won four in a row since, including a thrilling 37-34 come-from-behind win over then-No. 4 Bleckley County, with the Raiders taking the lead on a touchdown pass with 19 seconds remaining. If the Raiders can get past the Indians, their remaining two games are against Monticello (1-2 in league play) and Lamar County (1-3). The Indians come into this game on absolute fire, having won their last two over Monticello and Lamar County by a combined 96-0. That marks their first consecutive shutouts since 2007, when they posted five in a row, and their first shutout since beating West Laurens 3-0 on Sept. 2, 2016. They lost 38-33 to Bleckley County in their region opener on Oct. 8 but if they can beat the Raiders, it would force a three-way tie for first place between themselves, Northeast and the Bleckley County-Washington County winner.
Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets at Swainsboro Tigers
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Records, rankings: Jeff Davis is 6-1, 2-1 in Region 2 and unranked; Swainsboro is 4-3, 2-0 and unranked.
Last meeting: Jeff Davis won 21-14 in 2019.
Maxwell’s projection: Even
Notes: If the Yellow Jackets win, they’ll likely take the second place and the No. 2 seed, having already lost to Vidalia (2-0 in league play). If the Tigers win, they’ll have sole possession of second place with the chance to win 2-2A if they can beat Toombs County and Vidalia. These teams have alternated winning since the series resumed in 2016, with Swainsboro opening with a 40-17 win and last beating the Jackets 14-0 in 2018. The Jackets also won 36-14 in 2017. The Jackets lead the all-time series, which began in 1984, 8-5. The Jackets started 5-0, including beating Bacon County 41-14 in their region opener, but then saw their 2-2A title hopes all but dashed by Vidalia, which beat them 42-18 on Oct. 23. However, they rebounded last week with a 35-13 upset win over then-No. 7 Toombs County to knock the Bulldogs from the rankings, keeping their chances for second place alive. The Tigers have won two in a row since 1A Public’s No. 7 Dublin beat them 42-14 on Oct. 2. They beat East Laurens 48-13 in their region opener and barely escaped Bacon County 10-9 on the road last week.
Follow the AJC’s Class 2A coverage on Twitter. Listen and subscribe to The Class 2A Blogcast on Apple, Spotify or iHeartRadio among other platforms.