With two weeks left in the regular season, not much is certain in Region 7-AAA.
North Hall and Flowery Branch are well-positioned to take the region’s top two seeds, and Gainesville’s win over Johnson on Friday gave the Red Elephants the inside track to subregion B’s second playoff spot, but at this point only Pickens and East Hall have been eliminated from postseason contention.
The waters are most muddied in the fight for No. 2 in subregion A. Chestatee, Lumpkin County and White County sit behind the Trojans (8-0, 3-0) with identical 2-1 subregion records.
With its win over Chestatee on Oct. 19, White County holds the keys to the entire scenario. Defeat Gilmer (2-6, 1-2) on Friday, then Lumpkin County in the regular season finale, and the Warriors will be back in the postseason for the first time since 2001.
In subregion A, Gainesville can lock up its eight consecutive playoff bid with a win Friday at West Hall (2-6, 1-1). Of note, Red Elephants coach Bruce Miller has never missed the postseason in his six-year tenure, or lost more than three games in the regular season.
Who needs to pass?
North Hall, which is ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press and GaSports.com Coaches Polls, rolled up 441 rushing yards in its 56-9 win over Lumpkin County on Friday, bringing their season total to 2,799 through eight games. That’s an average of 350 yards per game.
Four Trojans (Hunter Wolf, Bobby Epps, Fabian Jackson and Dylon Wolf) have now rushed for at least 300 yards this season. As a team, North Hall averages 8.4 yards per carry.
All those numbers don’t mean much, though, without this one — 47.8 points per game.
Who needs to run?
The Red Elephants had a (singular) rushing yard Friday night.
Clearly that was all they needed.
Led by quarterback Justin Fordham and receivers Gerald Ford and Tyler Adetona, Gainesville’s air show was on display again in the Red Elephants’ 34-18 win over Johnson.
A week after running back Kendrick Harris scored six rushing touchdowns, Gainesville relied on Fordham, who topped the 300-yard mark for the fifth time this season.
With 301 yards and four scores through the air Fordham brought his season totals to 2,653 yards and 30 touchdowns with only five interceptions.
His primary targets — Ford and Adetona — both topped the 1,000-yard plateau Friday.
Who needs a winning record?
A playoff spot will be on the line Friday night in Dawsonville when Banks County (3-5, 2-1 Region 8B-AA) treks west to meet Dawson County (3-5, 2-1).
Despite Justin Beasley’s third straight outing with more than 200 rushing yards, the Leopards fell to Fannin County, 42-28, Friday.
That leaves them tied with the Tigers for second in the subregion, while Fannin County has locked up a spot in the region title game.
Dawson County opened the season 0-4 and Banks County lost four straight after opening with a win, but both teams have been able to win when it counts.
12 in and row ... and counting?
The last time Jefferson defeated its biggest rival, Commerce, this year’s Dragon seniors were 5- and 6-year-olds.
The Dragons dropped the Tigers, 21-7, late in the 1995 season. One week later, Commerce’s string of 12 straight wins began with a 22-18 win in the Region 8-A playoffs.
As it so often does, this year’s game will have big-time implications on the 8-A playoff picture.
Jefferson (6-2, 2-0) enters the game tied with Athens Academy for first. The Dragons and Spartans will meet in the final week of the regular season.
Commerce, on the other hand, is coming off a 27-24 loss to Athens Academy. And while the Tigers’ playoff spot is secure, they need to stretch their winning streak over the Dragons to 13 if they hope to get a first-round playoff game at home.