With just one month remaining in the Georgia high school football regular season, all of the area teams have begun their region schedules and quests to claim a coveted playoff spot.
Many of them are on track to achieve that goal.
From frontrunning Flowery Branch High to turnarounds like Gainesville High and North Hall High, several local squads have gotten off to a strong start in region play. The top four teams from each region will punch a ticket to the playoffs, raising the stakes even higher over the final four weeks of the season.
A pair of area teams — No. 10 Flowery Branch and No. 3 Buford High — have dominated Region 8-5A and seem to be on a collision course to determine which club claims the No. 1 seed when they meet in the season finale.
After missing the playoffs for the last three seasons, the Falcons appear to be heading back following a 3-0 start in region play. The Wolves, meanwhile, have beaten their first two region opponents by a combined score of 115-7.
Region 7-3A presents a different picture for three area schools.
Greater Atlanta Christian looks to be running away with the region title after three blowout wins, leaving North Hall (2-1 in region), East Hall High (2-1) and Dawson County High (2-0) jockeying for second place. The latter two teams meet Oct. 20 in Dawsonville, while the Tigers have already beaten the Trojans.
But North Hall still finds itself in the thick of the region race after going winless in its four non-region games, and it can prove its mettle against Greater Atlanta Christian and East Hall to close the regular season.
The Vikings, of course, want to beat their cross-county rivals and rebound from their loss at Greater Atlanta Christian last Friday.
With prolific quarterback Austin Parker engineering an offense that averages about 46 points per game, East Hall — which received votes in the most recent Georgia Sports Writers Association Top 10 poll — is in position to secure a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
Last year’s No. 2 seed from the region, Dawson County, has a chance to make its season finale at Greater Atlanta Christian the de facto region championship game if it stays unbeaten over the next three weeks.
One classification up, another trio of local teams inhabit one of the toughest regions in Georgia.
All five schools in Region 7-4A have a winning record, led by No. 5 Blessed Trinity High and No. 6 Marist. But West Hall High has established itself as a contender after beating Chestatee High 28-14 last week, and White County High is off to a 5-2 start after winning one game last year.
The War Eagles and Warriors, who lost at Blessed Trinity to open region play, still have time to make up ground over the final month of the season and ensure they aren’t the only team from this brutal region left out of the postseason.
Gainesville, meanwhile, is eyeing yet another trip to the playoffs after starting Region 8-6A play with a wild 30-27 win against Habersham Central High last Friday.
The Red Elephants scored twice in the final two minutes to snap a four-game losing streak and hand the Raiders another close loss. Habersham Central has work to do in the region race, but it has plenty of potential with its five losses coming by a total of 14 points.