Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7A preview: Breaking down the playoff scenarios

Walton, South Forsyth and McEachern are favored to nail down region titles on Friday, but Woodstock, West Forsyth and Hillgrove stand in their way in this final week of the regular season.

Roswell and North Cobb, both ranked in the top five for brief spells earlier this season, are playing for their playoff lives. So is East Coweta, which hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1996.

Here are the region playoff scenarios, with all the tiebreakers solved, in case anyone is asking 'what if?' ''

Region 1 – No. 1 Lowndes is the region champion. Camden County (3-6, 0-2) will make the playoffs with an upset victory over sixth-ranked Tift County (8-1, 1-1). A Camden win would force a three-way tie for second place, and Camden has good tiebreaker numbers (points allowed in games among tied teams). But, Tift or Colquitt County (7-3, 1-1) would still make the playoffs as Class AAAAAAA’s at-large team. If Tift wins (the Maxwell Ratings peg Tift as a 30-point favorite), the seeds will be Lowndes, Tift County, Colquitt County. The fourth-place team in a four-team region is not guaranteed a playoff berth, and Camden would be out.

Region 2 – Westlake is the No. 1 seed, and Pebblebrook is the No. 2. But 3-4-5 will be interesting among Campbell (4-5, 2-2), Newnan (3-6, 2-2) and East Coweta (5-4, 1-3) with a decent chance for a three-way tie. East Coweta has not missed the playoffs since 1996 – the longest streak of its kind in the highest classification -- so there’s plenty of suspense. The region’s three-way tiebreaker – points for each victory by your defeated opponents - favors East Coweta. So with a win, East Coweta is in. Newnan also makes it with a win. Campbell makes it only if Campbell beats Westlake (6-3, 4-0), or if Newnan beats East Coweta. What also makes this fun is that East Coweta-Newnan is a huge rivalry, and it should be a tight game as East Coweta is favored by four. Newnan would love nothing more than ending the proud streak of its old enemy.

Region 3 – McEachern (7-2, 4-0) plays at Hillgrove (6-3, 3-1), and the winner is the No. 1 seed. North Paulding (7-2, 2-2) plays at Marietta (6-3, 2-2), and Kennesaw Mountain (4-5, 0-4) plays at North Cobb (5-4, 1-3). There is no possibility for any three-way tie in this region. So jot down these notes in breaking two-team ties: Hillgrove beat North Paulding but lost to Marietta. North Cobb beat Marietta but lost to North Paulding. The fifth-place finisher stands a good chance of getting an at-large playoff berth unless it’s Kennesaw Mountain. (Maxwell favors McEachern by six over Hillgrove, and North Paulding by four over Marietta, so it should be an intriguing final even in this region.)

Region 4 – Woodstock (6-3, 3-1) plays at third-ranked Walton (9-0, 4-0), and the winner is the No. 1 seed. Lassiter (6-3, 2-2) plays at Etowah (4-5, 2-2), and Cherokee (0-9, 0-4) plays at Roswell (2-7, 1-3). There is no possibility for any three-way tie in this region. So jot down these notes in breaking two-team ties: Woodstock beat Etowah but lost to Lassiter. Roswell beat Lassiter but lost to Etowah. Lassiter stands a good chance of getting the at-large berth if it slips to fifth place. (Maxwell favors Walton by 28 over Woodstock, but Lassiter only by six over Etowah, so the fight for the No. 4 spot will be tight. Roswell, the two-time defending state runner-up, is clinging to life.)

Region 5 – The four playoff teams are set. It’s just a matter of sorting the order, and it could get complicated. On Friday, ninth-ranked South Forsyth (8-1, 4-0) plays at West Forsyth (7-2, 3-1), and North Forsyth (5-4, 2-2) plays at Milton (7-2, 3-1). Here’s the long and short of it: If South and Milton win, as expected, the seeds will be South, Milton, West, North. If West and North win, which is not expected in the least, the seeds will be West, South, North, Milton. If South and North win, the seeds will be South, West, North, Milton. If West and Milton win, the seeds will be West, South, Milton, North – unless West beats South by only five points or fewer. Then, South Forsyth would hold the tiebreaker edge in point differential, and the seeds would be South, Milton, West, North. South Forsyth is the region champion by beating West Forsyth, or by losing by no more than five points. The three-way tiebreaker is points differential in games involving the tied teams.

Region 6 – Fifth-ranked North Gwinnett (8-1, 5-0) is the region champion. Assuming no upsets Friday, the other seeds will be No. 2 Mill Creek (6-3, 3-2), No. 3 Collins Hill (5-4, 3-2) and No. 4 Mountain View (8-2, 4-2) based on the region’s tiebreaker, which is point differential (maximum 13 points) in games among those teams. Peachtree Ridge (2-7, 2-3) can steal a playoff berth with a victory over Collins Hill on Friday. Maxwell gives the Ridge an 18.2 percent change of doing it. Duluth (3-6, 1-4) is less dangerous to Mill Creek. Mountain View has a bye week.

Region 7 – Seventh-ranked Brookwood (7-2, 5-0) is the No. 1 seed. Parkview (6-3, 4-1) is the No. 2 seed. Norcross (4-5, 3-2) plays at Meadowcreek (7-2, 3-2) to settle No. 3 and No. 4. Central Gwinnett (5-4, 2-3) can only hope that a win over Parkview can put the Knights in position to earn the at-large playoff berth for fifth-place finishers. Parkview is favored by 21.

Region 8 – Second-ranked Archer (9-0, 4-0) is the No. 1 seed. Assuming no upsets Friday, the other seeds will be No. 2 Grayson (8-1, 3-1), No. 3 Newton (6-3, 2-2) and No. 4 South Gwinnett (3-6, 2-2). That could change if Shiloh beat Archer, or South Gwinnett beat Grayson, but both are 34-point underdogs or worse, so this blog will wait cross that bridge.

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