With one week left to play in the regular season, the playoff picture is getting clearer. Except of course in Region 8-AAAA and Region 7-AAA, where the teams that make the postseason could come down to a mathematical equation.
It’s not so much that all of the playoff teams from Region 7-AAA will be decided on the final Friday, but the No. 4 seed is yet to be determined.
Gainesville, Flowery Branch and North Hall all know the playoffs are on the horizon, but three teams are fighting for the final spot.
Creekview, White County and Chestatee still have a shot at the postseason, with the Grizzlies having the best chance to make it, and the War Eagles having a slim chance.
If Creekview beats Chestatee on Friday then the Grizzlies are in. If Chestatee wins, math comes into play.
Prior to this season, the coaches of Region 7-AAA decided on a new tiebreaker system. If head-to-head outcomes cannot determine the playoff team, then a point system will come into the formula with each team awarded a maximum of 13 points for each subregion win and a maximum of 13 points deducted for each loss.
Confused? Here’s how it works.
As of today, Creekview has a total of 42 points (13 awarded for each blowout win over White County, Gilmer, Pickens and Lumpkin, and 10 subtracted for the loss to North Hall); White County has a total of 23 points (39 for wins over Chestatee, Lumpkin County and Pickens, 16 subtracted for losses to Creekview and North Hall); and Chestatee has 13 points (39 for wins over Pickens, Lumpkin and Gilmer, and 26 subtracted for the losses to North Hall and White County). With such a low point total, Chestatee will need to beat Creekview and have White County lose to a winless Gilmer team.
For White County to make the playoffs, it would need to beat Gilmer by more than 13 points and have Chestatee beat Creekview by seven points or more. Creekview can either beat Chestatee or lose by five points or less and make the playoffs. If Creekview loses by six, its point total will be tied with White County’s and an additional tiebreaker will come into play: Same class opponents. And with a 6-4 record, the Warriors would get in.
Need more? Well, Region 8-AAAA breaks down like this.
With 8-1 records, Clarke Central and Loganville are both in, but five teams — Apalachee (6-3), Heritage (5-4), Cedar Shoals (5-4), Salem (5-4), and Habersham Central (6-4) — are still in the running for the final two spots. The Raiders are off this week and must watch the remaining four playoff contenders go head-to-head as Apalachee plays at Salem, and Heritage plays host to Cedar Shoals.
If the Patriots beat Cedar Shoals, then Habersham will make the playoffs since the Raiders beat Heritage earlier this season. If Cedar Shoals wins, then Habersham Central’s fate will be in the hands of the Seminoles of Salem. If Salem beats Appalachee, then Habersham Central will join Cedar Shoals, Loganville and Clarke Central in the playoffs. If Apalachee and Cedar Shoals win, then the Wildcats and Jaguars will make the playoffs.
If both Heritage and Salem win, then Habersham Central, Loganville, Clarke Central, and Heritage will make the postseason since the Patriots beat the Seminoles earlier this year.
Diving into the numbers
The No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAA won’t be the only seed determined Friday. Sixth-ranked Gainesville and Flowery Branch go head-to-head at City Park on Friday to determine the region champion and the top-seed heading into the playoffs.
The game features the top-two offenses and defenses in the region, with the Red Elephants averaging 39 points per game while surrendering only eight, and the Falcons scoring 36 points per game and giving up 11. But the similarities don’t end there.
Over the last six games (with five similar opponents) the Red Elephants and Falcons have each won by an average of 32 points per game, rushed for more than 225 yards per game and passed for more than 100 yards per game.
Need more numbers?
From Sept. 28 on, Gainesville has averaged 243.6 yards rushing and 197 yards passing, while Flowery Branch has averaged 228.5 yards on the ground and 109.6 in the air. Both teams are getting it done on the defensive end too, with Flowery Branch holding its opponents to 124.3 yards rushing and 129.16 yards passing per game, and Gainesville giving up 126.83 yards passing and only 70 yards rushing a game.
The one disparity between the two teams is turnover differential. In the past six games, the Falcons have a plus-13 turnover margin, while the Red Elephants’ is just plus-1.