Hillgrove, Walton and South Forsyth clinched Class AAAAAAA region titles Friday on the final night of the regular season.
Only one of those was a surprise – Hillgrove. The Hawks beat their Powder Springs rival McEachern 14-7. See Chip Saye’s coverage of the game for ajc.com.
Hillgrove began the year 0-2 with losses to Buford and North Gwinnett, neither close. An Oct. 13 loss to Marietta had the Hawks at 4-3 overall, 1-1 in Region 3 and in real danger of not making the playoffs.
But Hillgrove was strong in wins against Kennesaw Mountain (52-27) and North Cobb (42-10) before holding off McEachern in a winner-take-all-game for the region title.
Walton won Region 4 with a 42-37 victory over Woodstock. Walton trailed 31-28 before scoring the the next two touchdowns to get comfortable. David Mitchell covered that game for ajc.com. That also was a winner-take-all game, and Woodstock was denied its first region title in history.
South Forsyth defeated West Forsyth 28-14 for the Region 5 title. That’s South Forsyth’s third region title in history, first since 2015.
Here’s what happened in all the regions and the seeds for the playoffs. Remember that one fifth-place team will get an at-large playoff berth. That almost certainly will be Marietta (6-4) or Lassiter (6-4).
Note that the first-round playoff matchups are regions 1 vs. 2, 3 vs. 4, 5 vs. 6 and 7 vs. 8. Better yet, here is the bracket.
Region 1 – Tift County defeated Camden County 21-10 to get the No. 2 seed. Camden’s season is over.
Seeds: 1. Lowndes. 2. Tift County. 3. Colquitt County.
Region 2 – Newnan defeated county rival East Coweta 30-28 to get the final playoff berth. East Coweta is out of the playoffs for the first time since 1996. That had been the longest streak of its kind in the highest classification.
Seeds: 1. Westlake. 2. Pebblebrook. 3. Newnan. 4. Campbell.
Region 3 – North Paulding (d. Marietta 49-14) and North Cobb (d. Kennesaw Mountain 28-17) clinched playoff berths. Marietta (6-4, 2-3) lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with North Cobb for the No. 4 seeds but is hopeful of getting the classification’s at-large playoff berth that will be based on GHSA power ratings and released early next week.
Seeds: 1. Hillgrove. 2. McEachern. 3. North Paulding. 4. North Cobb.
Region 4 – Etowah (d. Lassiter 29-20) and Roswell (d. Cherokee 56-20) clinched playoff berths. Lassiter (6-4, 2-3) lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with Roswell for the No. 4 seeds but is hopeful of getting the classification’s at-large playoff berth that will be based on GHSA power ratings and released early next week.
Seeds: 1. Walton. 2. Woodstock. 3. Etowah. 4. Roswell.
Region 5 – Milton defeated North Forsyth 49-17 to get the No. 2 seed behind South Forsyth.
Seeds: 1. South Forsyth. 2. Milton. 3. West Forsyth. 4. North Forsyth.
Region 6 – Collins Hill beat Peachtree Ridge 34-12 to clinch a playoff berth.
Seeds: 1. North Gwinnett. 2. Mill Creek. 3. Collins Hill. 4. Mountain View.
Region 7 -- Norcross defeated Meadowcreek 33-6 in a game that decided the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds. Parkview beat Central Gwinnett (5-5, 2-4) to end Central’s hopes of getting the at-large playoff berth as the No. 5 seed.
Seeds: 1. Brookwood. 2. Parkview. 3. Norcross. 4. Meadowcreek.
Region 8 – The favorites won easily as expected.
Seeds: 1. Archer. 2. Grayson. 3. Newton. 4. South Gwinnett.