Four teams clinched region championships on Friday. Wayne County, Stockbridge and Arabia Mountain all won showdown games and Carver thumped a cellar dweller, allowing each to secure the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for at least the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
No. 8 Wayne County beat Ware County 28-14 in Region 2, No. 3 Stockbridge held off No. 5 Jones County 31-14 to lock down Region 4, and Arabia Mountain defeated Southwest DeKalb 27-14 to win Region 5. Carver secured the top spot in Region 6 with its 61-6 win over Lithia Springs.
Still undecided: Region 1, where Bainbridge and Warner Robins will determine first place next week; Region 3, where No. 7 Starr’s Mill, No. 10 Griffin and Whitewater are headed toward a three-way tie; and Region 8, where No. 1 Buford and No. 9 Flowery Branch will meet for the title on Friday.
Already determined: No. 1 Rome, which has turned away all challengers.
Region 2: Wayne County (7-1) answered Ware County’s first score with a kickoff return for a touchdown and went on to secure the school’s first region championship since 2014.
Region 4: Stockbridge (9-0) held off a Jones County surge and won its fourth straight region title. Jones County (8-1) cut the lead to 20-17 with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter, only to have Stockbridge begin a 66-yard touchdown drive that ate up nearly six minutes.
“This is what playoff football’s all about,” Stockbridge coach Keith Whitley said. “We kept fighting. Jones County’s a good team, in probably the most hostile environment we’ve played in all year. Unbelievable atmosphere and I’m proud of our guys.”
Region 5: Arabia Mountain (7-2) secured its second straight region title with a two-score flurry in the third quarter. Bryson Williams connected with Matthew Crawford and Justin Nelson got the ball right back with an interception. Nelson scored on a run to put the game out of reach. Southwest DeKalb (6-3) was playing without starting quarterback Justin Tomlin, who was out with an upper-body injury.
“It’s amazing to win another championship,” Nelson said. “I feel like we’re the most hated team in DeKalb. We make a statement each time we step on the field. Going into the playoffs, we have to stay humble, be prepared and don’t get a big head.”
Region 7: Carver (8-1) took care of business with a 61-6 win over last-place Lithia Springs and won its first region championship since 2007. Octavious Battle threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns and Tony Jones rushed 12 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers. Deanthony Ball caught four passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, one of them that went 80 yards.
Here’s how the other Big Boys fared on Friday night.
No. 1 Rome: The Wolves beat East Paulding 49-24, getting two running touchdowns apiece from Jamious Griffin and Jalynn Sykes. The defending state champions (8-0) have scored at least 40 points in their last eight games.
No. 2 Buford: The Wolves (7-1) got three touchdowns from Christian Turner and two from Anthony Grant in a 49-0 win over Loganville. Quarterback Aaron McLaughlin threw for 144 yards and one touchdown in a game the Wolves led 35-0 at the half.
No. 4 Warner Robins: The Demons (9-0) produced 504 yards on offense in a 56-17 win over Veterans. Jarius Burnett rushed for 181 yards and Jaeven West scored three touchdowns.
No. 6 Bainbridge: The Bearcats (7-2) spotted Harris County a score, then reeled off 40 unanswered points in a 40-13 win. Bainbridge will play at Warner Robins next week for the Region 1 championship.
No. 7 Starr’s Mill: The Panthers (8-1) won their third straight, beating Riverdale 37-19. Starr’s Mill scored three quick touchdowns in the first quarter to grab the momentum and never let up. The Panthers got two rushing touchdowns each from Cole Gilley and Kalen Sims and a touchdown run from Nick Brown. Preston Wheeler added a 23-yard field goal.
No. 9 Flowery Branch and No. 10 Griffin did not play.