With one Friday night remaining in the regular season, region championships and playoff berths are still up for grabs all over Northeast Georgia. Here’s a look at this week’s top games:
Clarke Central at Flowery Branch
In its first season in Class AAAA, Flowery Branch is off to its best start yet, winning its first nine games, each in convincing fashion.
But the biggest challenge of the year awaits, as No. 2 Clarke Central visits on Friday with the Region 8-AAAA championship on the line.
The No. 6 Falcons, who previously competed in Class AAA, have been to the state semifinals or deeper each of the last two seasons, while the Gladiators were a Class AAAA state semifinalists a year ago.
Gainesville at White County
When these two 8-AAA rivals met back in September, Gainesville led throughout, but needed a backbreaking touchdown drive led by A.J. Johnson to finally put the Warriors away for a 31-22 win.
Neither team has lost since then and the rematch will decide the 8-AAA championship.
The No. 6 Red Elephants have been clicking on offense, scoring 51 points per game during the last half of the season.
The Warriors, whose spot in the title game means a their first playoff berth since 2001, have been grinding their way to an 8-1 record, with five wins coming by eight points or less.
Westminster at Buford
Buford proved last year it doesn’t need a region title to win state, but that doesn’t mean the Wolves wouldn’t relish the chance to re-assert themselves as kings of 6-AA by beating Westminster for a second time this year in Friday night’s region championship game.
When these schools met on Sept. 10, No. 2 Buford was coming off its only loss of the season (to No. 1 Carver-Columbus). The Wolves had little trouble shaking off any lingering ill effects, though, and won 32-10.
Westminster earned its right to play for the title by drumming last week, 37-14.
Buford had the week off to rest up and get ready for the rematch.
Monroe Area at Lumpkin County
One of the area’s most intriguing games is another rematch, and unlike the region title games in which both teams are assured of a spot in the playoffs, the loser of this game gets left at home.
Monroe Area travelled to Dahlonega on Sept. 17 and left with a hard-fought 10-3 win, limiting Lumpkin County to its lowest offensive output of the season. That’s been the theme for the Purple Hurricanes, who haven’t surrendered double-digit point totals to any team except Gainesville.
The Indians already have more wins than in any season since 2003, the last time they made the playoffs.