Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stakes increase as a dozen region games highlight season's midpoint

Before I look into some of this weekend’s individual matchups, I want to broaden the scope to Class AAAA as a whole as it enters the biggest weekend of games thus far. In the 52-team Class AAAA, seven teams will be on a bye this week (Mary Persons, Howard, Thomson, Luella, Henry County, Sandy Creek and Pickens). There are a dozen games out of the 33 total Class AAAA games being played this week that will be region games. Out of the remaining 21 non-conference games, a Saturday kickoff between Region 8 Oconee County vs. Region 4 Eastside is the only Class AAAA vs. Class AAAA matchup. (See the complete Class AAAA schedule below.)

Region 1 started its region play last weekend and so the stakes have only gotten bigger for the 8-team conference. Undefeated Northside-Columbus rallied past Carver-Columbus 23-20 last Friday to move to 1-0 in region play and will face Americus-Sumter, which also has a 1-0 region record after a 21-0 win over Westover. Northside-Columbus took the No. 3 seed a year ago, while Americus-Sumter grabbed the No. 4 seed. While one of these teams is guaranteed to move to 2-0 after Friday (unless they tie), only defending region champion Cairo at 1-0 has an opportunity to reach the 2-0 mark this week.  Cairo barely held off Hardaway in a 9-7 game last week and will face Shaw as the Raiders come off the bye.

Region 4 will showcase two region matchups as Druid Hills faces off with North Clayton and Salem meets Woodward Academy after its 34-17 loss to Marist. Last year, Woodward Academy defeated Salem 74-6 and North Clayton’s 16-14 win over Druid Hills was the difference in the Eagles reaching the playoffs and Druid Hills joining Salem and Henry in missing out.

In Region 5, it is worth noting that Cedartown at Cartersville is the week’s only matchup between two 4-0 teams. That being said, Cartersville handled the Bulldogs 44-6 in last year’s region opener and haven’t lost a region game since 2011. While Sandy Creek is on the bye this week, an intriguing matchup between 4-0 Troup and 3-1 Chapel Hill could prove to be the region’s most important game regarding potential playoff seeding.

Pickens is on the bye this week in Region 6 as the other six teams await their region openers. Undefeated Heritage-Catoosa takes on winless Gilmer, while 2-2 LaFayette visits 4-0 Southeast Whitfield. The most intriguing Region 6 matchup is likely going to be 4-0 Ridgeland at 3-1 Northwest Whitfield. Last year, Ridgeland escaped this matchup with a 48-42 home victory.

Stay tuned for Thursday’s blog as I preview and break down my top 5 matchups.


Region 1

Northside-Columbus at Americus-Sumter

Shaw at Cairo

Carver-Columbus vs. Westover (CM)

Columbus at Hardaway (K)


Region 2

Perry vs. Veterans

Spalding at Houston County (FF)

Upson-Lee vs. Jordan

West Laurens vs. Warner Robins

Mary Persons, Howard BYE


Region 3

Baldwin vs. Evans

Burke County at Effingham County

Cross Creek vs. Greenbrier

Hephzibah vs. Hancock Central

Richmond Academy vs. Grovetown

Thomson BYE


Region 4

Druid Hills at North Clayton (SC)

Eastside vs. Oconee County (SH) Saturday

Salem vs. Woodward Academy

Luella, Henry County BYE


Region 5

Cedartown at Cartersville

Central-Carroll at LaGrange

Troup at Chapel Hill

Sandy Creek BYE


Region 6

Heritage-Catoosa at Gilmer

LaFayette at Southeast Whitfield

Ridgeland at Northwest Whitfield

Pickens BYE


Region 7

Blessed Trinity vs. McCallie TN

Chestatee at Habersham Central

Marist at Chamblee (ND)

West Hall at Rabun County

White County vs. Dawson County


Region 8

Jefferson at Gainesville

Madison County vs. Franklin County

North Oconee vs. Winder-Barrow

Oconee County at Eastside (SH) Saturday

St. Pius at Lanier

Stephens County vs. Hart County



Abbreviation Key

(SH) Sharp Stadium, Covington

(ND) North DeKalb Stadium, Chamblee

(SC) Southern Cresent Stadium, Riverdale

(FF) Freedom Field, Warner Robins

(CM) Columbus Memorial, Columbus

(C) Callaway Stadium, LaGrange

(K) Kinnett Stadium, Columbus

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