Even though the high school sports season is winding down for the fall, the next five weeks that make up the football playoffs are some of the most closely followed by fans.
Locally, five programs that are for the most part regulars to the postseason are ready to begin their runs to a possible state title.
In Class AAA, Gainesville (9-1) and White County (8-2) both qualified for the playoffs out of Region 8-AAA. Last Friday, the Red Elephants defeated the Warriors for the region title, and thus the top seed to the postseason.
Gainesville plays host to Haralson County (3-7) on Friday at City Park.
Gainesville was a state finalist last season, while Haralson County has not won a playoff game in school history.
Meanwhile, No. 2 seed White County (8-2) plays host to LaGrange (5-5) in the first round matchup on Friday at Warrior Stadium in Cleveland. The Warriors are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
In Class AA, it should come as no surprise that second-ranked Buford (9-1) is considered a favorite to make a deep run in the playoffs as it goes for its fourth consecutive state title. The Wolves open the playoffs against Hart County (6-3-1), a No. 4 seed out of the tough Region 8-AA.
In 2008 and 2009, the Wolves knocked off Calhoun in the Georgia Dome for a state championship.
In Class A, Commerce is in the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season. In this coach Steve Savage’s final year before retirement, the third-seeded Tigers (5-5) visit No. 2 seed Bremen (9-1).
In Class AAAA, one of the state's powers, Flowery Branch (9-1), plays host to Southwest-Dekalb (8-2) on Friday at Falcon Field. The Falcons lost out on the region championship to No. 1 seed Clarke Central (10-0) last Friday, but look to continue their string on deep runs in the playoffs.
Flowery Branch was a Class AAA state finalist in 2008 and semifinalist in 2009.
ATLANTA FALCONS: After an exciting 27-21 win against Tampa Bay on Sunday, the NFC South leading Falcons (6-2) only four days to prepare to play the Baltimore Ravens (6-2) on Thursday at the Georgia Dome. This game marks Atlanta’s first appearance on the NFL Network since 2007.
ATLANTA HAWKS: The Hawks lost Phoenix to fall to 7-1 and will play the Magic in Orlando today at 7:30 p.m. before playing host to Milwaukee on Wednesday and Utah on Friday.