Class 5A blog: Playoffs finalized by draw from a hat

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The playoff brackets in Class 5A were pretty cut and dry after the regular season was completed on Friday night.

Then there was Region 6.

New Manchester won the championship on Friday by beating Chapel Hill 33-16. That set the No. 1 seed in stone. The other three playoff spots … well, not so much.

Lithia Springs took care of its business by hammering North Springs 44-6. That guaranteed the Lions would return to the playoffs. But fast-finishing Maynard Jackson won its third straight, knocking off Villa Rica 46-24, to oust the Wildcats from postseason and create a three-way tie for the No. 2 spot.

And since the three teams who were tied – Chapel Hill, Lithia Springs and Jackson – had all beaten each other, a tiebreaker was needed.

So, at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, region secretary Reggie Curry drew numbers out of a hat.

“The first everybody wanted play-in games,” Lithia Springs coach Corey Jarvis said. “But the GHSA said we couldn’t do that, so we called an emergency meeting during the week and decided to do it this way.”

The GHSA constitution, widely known as the White Book, does not allow mini-games to be used if there is a tie between three or more teams and there are spots for all the teams in the playoffs. Mini-games are allowed only if three or more teams are tied and there are not spots in the playoffs for all the teams.

When the numbers were drawn, Lithia Springs emerged as No. 2, Jackson at No. 3 and Chapel Hill at No. 4. Lithia Springs earned the opportunity to host the first state playoff game in school history.

“This is huge for our program,” Jarvis said. “I’m proud of them. They’ve been resilient and they’ve fought through everything that’s been going on in the world.”

Here’s who made the playoffs from each region (in order of seed):

Region 1: Warner Robins, Ware County, Coffee, Wayne County

Warner Robins won its fourth straight region title and will try to reach the state championship game for the fourth straight year and win its first title since 2004. The Demons average 35.4 points per game.

Region 2: Starr’s Mill, Griffin, Whitewater, Harris County

Holding fast to its commitment to run the ball, Starr’s Mill won its fifth straight region championship. Whitewater is back in the playoffs after a two-year absence under first-year coach Chad Frazier.

Region 3: Creekside, Woodward Academy, Jonesboro, Mundy’s Mill

Creekside outslugged Woodward Academy 42-17 in the final game and won the region title for the second time in three years.

Region 4: Jones County, Ola, Dutchtown, Union Grove

Jones County started the season 0-3, but has won seven in a row and dethroned reigning region champion Dutchtown by beating the Bulldogs 21-13 on Friday. First-year coach Casey Smith has Union Grove back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Region 5: St. Pius, Decatur, Southwest DeKalb, King

St. Pius earned the region championship with a 28-9 win over Decatur. The Golden Lions, who were kicked up a notch in classification because of the private-school multiplier, won their third region championship in the last four years and eighth since 2009.

Region 6: New Manchester, Lithia Springs, Maynard Jackson, Chapel Hill

New Manchester won the first region championship in school history. Lithia Springs, which made the state playoffs for the first time a year ago, will host for the first time.

Region 7: Blessed Trinity, Cartersville, Calhoun, Hiram

Three-time defending state champion Blessed Trinity beat Woodland 49-0 in the season finale. The Titans won their final three games by a combined 147-0. Hiram went 1-9, but won the right game – its victory over Cass was the tiebreaker that got the Hornets in the playoffs for the second straight season.

Region 8: Clarke Central, Eastside, Greenbrier, Loganville

Clarke Central won the region championship for the second straight season and the Gladiators have made the playoffs five straight years under coach David Perno. Eastside and Greenbrier both moved down from Class 6A and grabbed playoff spots.

First-round playoff matches

Top left quadrant: Dutchtown at Ware County, Harris County at Creekside, Maynard Jackson at Cartersville, Loganville at St. Pius.

Bottom left quadrant: Calhoun at Lithia Springs, King at Clarke Central, Coffee at Olla, Mundy’s Mill at Starr’s Mill.

Top right quadrant: Greenbrier at Decatur, Chapel Hill at Blessed Trinity, Whitewater at Woodward Academy, Union Grove at Warner Robins.

Bottom right quadrant: Jonesboro at Griffin, Wayne County at Jones County, Southwest DeKalb at Eastside, Hiram at New Manchester.

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