The four playoff teams from 6-AAAAAA in 2016 – Dalton, Harrison, Allatoona and Sequoyah - took a big step toward returning to the top of the standings this season when they won their region openers last weekend by an average score of 45-7.
Defending region champion Dalton had little trouble in a 41-0 victory over Sprayberry. Harrison won 49-0 over previously unbeaten River Ridge. Allatoona pulled away in the second half for a 42-16 victory over South Cobb. And Sequoyah beat Creekview 49-13, a year after beating the Grizzlies 29-26 in two overtimes.
The region schedule is light this week, with only two games, but it does feature a big matchup between Harrison and Allatoona that will go a long way toward shaping the picture at the top of the standings.
We continue our Tuesday series examining the playoff outlooks for every Class AAAAAA team as region play kicks off with a preview of Region 6.
Here’s a closer look at each of the teams, broken down by playoff likelihood, in alphabetical order within each group:
*Allatoona (2-2, 1-0): Last year, the Buccaneers went 0-3 in non-region play but recovered to earn the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. They went 1-2 against the same schedule this season and are ranked No. 10 heading into this week’s showdown with Harrison, which beat Allatoona 43-19 last season. The Buccaneers have made seven consecutive playoff appearances, and an eighth appears likely.
*Dalton (3-1, 1-0): The Catamounts were the only AAAAAA team to go 10-0 in the regular season last year, and they reached the state semifinals before losing to Valdosta. Dalton opened this year with a loss to Calhoun but rebounded with wins over Northwest Whitfield, Sonoraville and Sprayberry. Dalton faces Sequoyah, Harrison and Allatoona in the final four weeks of the regular season.
*Harrison (2-2, 1-0): The Hoyas’ two non-region losses have come against Class AAAAA No. 1 Rome and Class AAAAAAA North Cobb by a total of 15 points. Last week, they showed why they are ranked No. 5 and the favorite to win the region title. Five-star QB Justin Fields and WR Steven Peterson were unstoppable against River Ridge and will be a problem for every team in the region.
Close to the top
*Sequoyah (3-1, 1-0): The Chiefs’ victory over Creekview last week was a big one, and another one next week against River Ridge will put them in great shape. They’ll need the cushion because of a three-week stretch of games against Dalton, Allatoona and Harrison from Oct. 13-27. Sequoyah started the year 2-1 against three Class AAAAAAA teams that all beat the Chiefs last year.
In the hunt
*Creekview (2-2, 0-1): The loss to Sequoyah put the Grizzlies in a bad spot. They will be big underdogs in games against Allatoona, Dalton and Harrison, and a team with four region losses is unlikely to make the playoffs. Creekview needs to win at least one of those games and run the table against everybody else to have a shot. Creekview made four consecutive playoff trips from 2012-2015.
*River Ridge (3-1, 0-1): The Knights started the year 3-0, but the record was built against three teams that are a combined 3-9. Reality hit last week when they lost to Harrison 49-0. That loss in no way eliminates River Ridge from the playoff race, but the Knights will need a win or two in their next three games – against Sequoyah, Dalton and Creekview – to remain in contention.
Not this year
*South Cobb (1-3, 0-1): Perhaps the Eagles shouldn’t be written off yet. They beat a pretty good Pebblebrook team 10-7 in the opener, lost two close games against Class AAAAAAA teams Campbell and Wheeler and then were competitive for a half against Allatoona. But South Cobb (1-9 last season) needs to get things turned around quickly, beginning this week against Sprayberry.
*Sprayberry (1-3, 0-1): The Yellow Jackets didn’t miss the playoffs by much last season – a 17-14 loss to Sequoyah in the final game was the difference between fourth and fifth place. However, coach Billy Shackelford (hired by East Paulding) and running back Trey Sermon (Oklahoma) are gone now. Since beating Osborne 43-6 in the opener, the Yellow Jackets have scored just 14 points.
Next week: Region 8-AAAAAA