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Little left unknown in Region 7-AAA
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Hear Francey Hakes, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, talk about "Project Safe Childhood."

Now is the point in the high school football season where we experience a little bit of a lull. Some teams are already gearing up for the playoffs and the opportunity to play host to first round opponents. Other teams are counting down the days until basketball season begins.

In Region 7-AAA, we’re seeing a scenario where North Hall (8-0, 3-0 Region 7A-AAA) and Flowery Branch (7-1, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA) have pretty well solidified the top spots. I can’t imagine a scenario where the Trojans aren’t going to emerge as the region champs and the Falcons will finish No. 2.

And to be honest, there aren’t really any compelling matchups left on the regular season schedule. The only exception is when Chestatee (6-2, 2-1) visits Lumpkin County (5-3, 2-1) on Friday. If the War Eagles lose, it will more than likely eliminate them from playoff contention.

Despite the lack of big games left on the regular season schedule, there are some big questions left to be answered. Here are the five big questions in my mind.

1). Who is going to be No. 2 in Region 7A-AAA for the playoffs? The contenders are: A) Chestatee B) White County and C) Lumpkin County. To qualify for the playoffs, the War Eagles need to win this week against Lumpkin County, and hope for the Indians to turn around and beat White County (5-3, 2-1) on Nov. 9. If Chestatee and White County finish tied for No. 2, then the Warriors are going to the playoffs. White County won head-to-head against Chestatee, and in my opinion is playing better in the second half of the season. At this point, I like White County’s chances.

2). Is Flowery Branch going to be seriously challenged in its final two games? Home-field advantage is something the folks at ‘The Branch’ want badly. It worked out well last season with a big first round win against a good Sandy Creek team. The Falcons finish up the schedule against Johnson (3-5, 1-1) and West Hall (2-6, 1-1). This should be pretty safe territory for Flowery Branch. The Falcons have shown an impressive balance on offense this season. Flowery Branch isn’t too shabby on defense either. The Falcons have only allowed more than 20-points twice this season (North Hall and Gainesville).

3). Is Gainesville (6-3, 2-1) a safe bet for the playoffs? Probably. The Red Elephants finish with West Hall in Oakwood on Friday. And working in Gainesville’s favor is they have a week to tune up for the playoffs with a Week 11 bye. Having two weeks to prepare for any game is a big advantage. Just look at how Georgia played in Jacksonville last Saturday if you don’t believe me.

4). Will East Hall (0-8, 0-3) win a game? The Vikings have a shot at pulling a ‘w’ with a trip to Gilmer on Nov. 9. A single victory after losing the first nine might not sound like much, but it would set the tone for what coach Bryan Gray wants to accomplish in the future over in Valhalla.

5). What are Johnson’s chances to make the playoffs? The Knights only shot of making the playoffs hinges on West Hall’s ability to defeat Gainesville. That’s a long shot at best. Even if that happens, the Knights would have to compound that with a win against Flowery Branch. I’m the first to admit that I’m surprised the Knights aren’t going to be playoff bound after predicting them as a team to beat at the start of the season.

Whatever the outcome, I hope we are finished with this silly subregion system for determining playoff qualifiers in Region 7-AAA. It compromises the ability to legitimately send the best four teams to the playoffs. And can’t we all agree we want to see this region fare well in the postseason?

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