The beautiful part of this time of the high school football season is that a couple of big football games have such a drastic impact on an entire region.
It happens every year and gives the best football teams the opportunity to control their own playoff fate. Huge end-of-the-season games are inevitable, regardless of whether a team is in a subdivided region or plays a straight region schedule.
Last Friday, there were two games that gave local programs the inside track on winning a region championship. On Friday, West Hall and Monroe Area (both 2-1 in Region 8-AAA South) will play, giving the winner a much better shot at qualifying for the playoffs on Nov. 4
Last Friday, Flowery Branch (7-0, 7-0 Region 8-AAAA) pulled off a 21-13 road win against Heritage (7-1, 7-1) to grab a serious edge in winning the program’s first region title. Early in the season, this game wouldn’t carry nearly the same magnitude. But after both played half a dozen games to move into the Associated Press’ Top 10, you have an instant classic on your hands.
Flowery Branch has one more bump in the road left to claim that elusive region championship. The next two weeks are home games against Loganville (4-3) and Salem (4-4), before a regular season finale against Clarke Central (6-1) on Nov. 4 in Athens.
Also, Gainesville (6-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAA South) went a long way to sewing up its fourth straight region crown with a 41-21 win against Monroe Area (2-1 in the South subregion).
The Red Elephants are now the only undefeated program in the South subregion. They have Walnut Grove and West Hall remaining on their schedule to secure the spot in the region title game on Nov. 4.
As long as Gainesville can get past West Hall (2-5, 2-1) on Oct. 28, it will play host to the North subregion winner for the region title.
For me, I’d rather watch one of these late-season matches against the top teams in any given region
It brings out the best in both teams and certainly can give their playoff seeding a huge boost.
East Hall (4-3, 2-1 Region 8-AA North) also has itself in position for a postseason berth, but took a step back with a loss to Fannin County (4-3, 1-2). Before last Friday’s loss, the Vikings were a serious contender for the subregion title, but now is faced with games against tough Dawson County(3-4, 2-1) and Banks County (5-2, 3-0) if they are to make it to the postseason.