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This week: Plenty of playoffs to go around
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Playoffs are aplenty this week, as four different high school sports kick off postseason play with region tournaments in golf and baseball along with state playoff games in soccer and tennis.

It was only last week that the boys’ soccer seedings for a congested Area 7-AAA were established. West Hall (14-3) clinched the top spot and a region title with last Tuesday’s in over Creekview (10-4), which takes the second seed. West Hall plays host to Franklin County on Friday. Gainesville (12-4) and Johnson (12-5) hit the road to open the playoffs. The third-seed Gainesville boys travel to Stephens County.

This season, Area 7-AAA opens the first round Friday against Area 8-AAA. While it may not be as tough a first round for the region as last year, when they faced three eventual state semi-finalists from Area 5-AAA, this year’s fourth seed, Johnson, will travel to 10th-ranked Oconee County (12-4), which swept Area 8-AAA and allowed only 11 goals all season.

On the girls’ side, third-ranked North Hall cruised to its fourth straight area title with an unbeaten record in Area 7-AAA. The Lady Trojans (13-3) look to make their second straight state semi-finals appearance when they play host to Eastside (10-4) in the first round of the state playoffs.

Fourth-seeded Flowery Branch (11-7) will travel to Oconee County in the first round. Other area teams in the playoffs this week are Area 8-AAAA champion Habersham Central boys (15-2), who are ranked third in Class AAAA, and Riverside Military (10-5), who finished second in Area 15-A/AA.

Tennis teams head to state

State playoff action in tennis also begins this week, with first-round games on Friday. Four area teams advanced to Region 7-AAA Tournament semifinals last week, earning a trip to the state playoffs. The Flowery Branch and Johnson girls and the Gainesville and West Hall boys will face Region 8-AAA in the first round.

The Lakeview Academy boys and girls team also advanced to the state playoffs after finishing in the top four of the Region 8-A Tournaments held last week in Athens. The No. 2-seeded boys will play host to St. Francis in the first round Tuesday, while the No. 3-seeded girls visit Wesleyan.

Region golf tourneys begin

Golf courses across Northeast Georgia will be busy this week, with region golf tournaments kicking off today, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Region 8-AA boys’ tee time comes first, beginning today at Chattahoochee Golf Course. The 7-AAA boys will play at Chattahoochee on Thursday, while the girls meet Wednesday at Big Canoe Golf Course in Jasper.

Class AAA’s top-ranked North Hall boys look to repeat as champions in Region 7-AAA, while Gainesville’s Camryn Cole looks to win her third straight individual region title.

Region 8-AA starts playoffs

Seedings out of Region 8-AA in the baseball state playoffs will be decided this week in the subregion tournament on Friday and Saturday.

The first round consists of a best-of-three series between the North and South teams, with the four winners playing in the final bracket on Saturday at Banks County High. The winners of Saturday’s first round play each other for the region title, while the losers play for the third and fourth seed in the state playoffs.

Dawson County (6-5, 5-2) and Jefferson (15-2, 10-1) enter the tournament as the top seeds from its respective subregions. Other area teams participating are Riverside Military (6-8, 5-4) and Banks County (13-6, 7-5).

Draft day is here

The week closes out with a pivotal day in the NFL offseason: The Draft, which begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The teams that suffered the most during the 2008-09 season finally get a chance to redeem its shortcomings with the coveted top picks in the first round. Those teams are led by the Detroit Lions, who pick first, followed by the St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and the Cleveland Browns, which rounds out the top five. The Atlanta Falcons pick 24th in the first round.

This year’s draft hits closer to home than usual, as two players from Georgia and one from Georgia Tech are projected to be taken early in the draft. Former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford could go as high as No. 1, while f Knowshon Moreno is expected to be taken in the late first round. Former Yellow Jacket defensive end Michael Johnson is also an early-round projection. The Draft will air on ESPN, Charter channel 32.

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