The off weeks are nearly a thing of the past and most leagues are playing for keeps. That means it’s time to take a look at the regions in Class AAAAA and determine the contenders and pretenders throughout the state.
Region 1: The favorite -- No. 4 Warner Robins (6-0) has survived an ambitious schedule and has beaten Class AAAAA No. 5 Northside Warner Robins, Class AAA No. 2 Peach County and Class AAAAA No. 6 Coffee. The contenders – Bainbridge (4-2) with its high-powered offense is widely considered the main threat to Warner Robins. In a five-team league, everyone is a contender for one of the four spots.
Region 2: The favorite -- No. 10 Wayne County (4-1) lost a non-region game to Glynn Academy. The Yellow Jackets are led by quarterback Garrett Overholt, who has thrown for more than 1,000 yards. The contenders – Ware County (0-4) has lost three games to state-ranked teams and is expected to be the main competition for Wayne. Statesboro (2-3) is much improved and headed toward a trip to the playoffs.
Region 3: The favorites – This looks like a three-way race for the top spot, much as it did a year ago. Griffin (5-1) just moved to the head of the class after it defeated No. 8 Starr’s Mill last week. Whitewater (4-2) has already beaten Griffin and plays Starr’s Mill this week. Starr’s Mill (5-1). The contenders – McIntosh (5-0) has a backloaded schedule but can move a step closer to the postseason with a win this week over rival Fayette County (2-3).
Region 4: The favorites – The big dog remains No. 3 Stockbridge (5-0), which has won the region the last two years. The Tigers have one of the state’s stingiest defenses. No. 6 Jones County (6-0) on the other hand has one of the most prolific offenses in the state between the twin threat of running backs Drake Bolus and Teldrick Ross. The teams meet on Oct. 27 at Jones County to likely determine the matter. The contenders -- No. 10 Eagle’s Landing (4-2) has already lost to Jones County and still has a game remaining with Stockbridge. Dutchtown (3-2) and Locust Grove (2-3) meet this week in a game that could determine the final playoff spot.
Region 5: The favorites – This could be a three-team race between Arabia Mountain (3-2), Miller Grove (3-2) and Southwest DeKalb (3-2). Arabia Mountain is the defending region champion, but has had trouble scoring points. Each of the contenders is flawed. None have played each other, but that changes this week when Miller Grove and Arabia Mountain open league play. The contenders – Columbia (3-2) has been inconsistent, but appears to be the best of the remaining teams.
Region 6: The favorite – Carver (5-1) has the most skilled players and remains the favorite to repeat as region champs. Quarterback Octavious Battle gives the Panthers a chance to win almost every region game. The contenders – This could be a fun race, with five or six schools in contention for the final three spots. Jackson (4-2) moves to the top of the race with back-to-back wins over Banneker and North Springs. Banneker (5-1), Decatur (2-3), Riverwood (2-3) and North Springs (3-2) are the others in the mix.
Region 7: The favorite – No. 1 Rome (5-0) all but clinched the title last week with its win over No. 6 Carrollton. The defending state champions have already beaten No. 7 Kell. The contenders – Carrollton (4-1) and Kell (3-3) will likely determine second place when they meet on Oct. 20. The final spot may go to East Paulding (1-4), which has come close to beating Carrollton and Kell, Villa Rica (4-2) or Paulding County (2-4).
Region 8: The favorite – No. 2 Buford (3-1) remains the team to beat, especially in light of last week’s lopsided win over Clarke Central. The contenders – Unless Flowery Branch (5-1) can find a way to knock off Buford, the Falcons and Clarke Central should determine second place when they meet on Oct. 20. Loganville (1-4) and Cedar Shoals (3-2) are the primary contenders for the final playoff spot.