Troup and Class AA’s Lamar County play the only Thursday game on the Class AAAA slate this week, and all 44 of the classification’s other games will take place on Friday. The only Class AAAA vs. Class AAAA game this week is a non-region clash between long-time rivals Marist and St. Pius. There are also six teams observing byes this week (Carver-Columbus, Hardaway, Central-Carroll, Gilmer, Southeast Whitfield and Jefferson).
Although the season still feels fresh, 20 of the 52 teams in Class AAAA are playing their fourth games this week. The midpoint of the season is quickly approaching and this is one of the few weeks left for the field to test itself outside the classification. Here some of the top games watch for.
Northside-Columbus vs. Jordan (K)
This is the final week before region play starts for Northside-Columbus, which resides in Class AAAA’s largest Region (1-AAAA) as one of eight teams. Last Thursday, the Patriots scored a 21-14 victory over a Shaw team that had stunned region rival Carver-Columbus its previous week. Now Northside faces Class 2A Jordan, which fell short to Region 1-AAAA’s Columbus 47-32 last week. Common opponents are definitely not a trusted way to measure the differences between two teams. That being said, a Northside-Columbus win on Friday would move the Patriots to 3-0 for the first time since 2010 and will keep them on track to build off 2016's third-place finish in this wide-open region.
Thomson vs. Pace Academy
Thomson edged Jefferson in a hard-fought 20-14 game last week and now faces an athletic and well-coached Pace Academy squad. Expect the Bulldogs to do what they do best and run the football. In last week’s victory, Thomson’s Tyrek Braswell, Bubba Murray and Tyler Curry combined for 217 yards on the ground. The trio each scored 1-yard rushing touchdowns and it is this ability to finish off long drives that could be the Bulldogs winning formula once again.
Marist at St. Pius
St. Pius hasn’t won a non-region game since 2014. Marist on the other hand, has cruised past Lovett and Baylor (TN) to a 2-0 start this season. Marist holds a 31-17-3 series lead in its 51 previous meetings with St. Pius, but the rivalry and deep history between the schools could take this one down to the wire and put the Golden Lions back on an upward trend.
Cartersville at Westlake
Cartersville defeated Class AAAAAAA Westlake 31-0 last year and football fans across the state were impressed by the Canes' polished performance and convincing victory in the state's highest classification. There is no doubt that Westlake is a talented program and like last year, they will be taking the field with the expectations of playing a competitive game against a great Class AAAA school. If they have been watching Cartersville this season and if last year wake-upake up call, they can also be expected to understand that anything but their best effort, will result in another embarrassing loss.