0

GHSA region football playoff races get clearer

Don't go anywhere just yet.

There may be only one game left in the Southwest Georgia high school football regular season, but playoff spots, tiebreakers, points allowed (yes, points allowed) and a possible three-way showdown Monday in Region 1-AA are on the table this Friday as the season winds down to a furious ending.

It's so crazy this final week that Albany High coach Felton Williams just found out Wednesday that his team has a chance to get into the playoffs.

Region 1-AA

Williams got a call from AHS athletic director Archie Chatmon on Wednesday.

"He said, 'I've got some good news and some crazy news,' " Williams said. "He told me we have a chance to make the playoffs. I said, 'That's great!' "

Then Williams told his players.

"They were ecstatic,'' Williams said. "We were just trying to finish strong. Now we have chance at the playoffs.''

It usually takes four wins to get out of the tough Region 1-AA race, but because of some upsets, Albany can create a chance to get to the postseason with a win against Cook High on the road Friday.

If Albany High (1-4 in 1-AA) beats Cook High (2-3), and Brooks County (4-1) beats Early County (2-3) all three of those teams would finish with 2-4 records in the region, and would have beaten each other.

Early County can grab the playoff spot if the Bobcats beat Brooks and Albany beats Cook, because that would leave Albany and Early in a two-way tie for the fourth spot, and Early beat Albany High, 36-34, last week.

But if Albany, Early and Cook end in a three-way tie with 2-4 records for the fourth spot and playoff berth, the region rules state that the three teams will meet at a neutral site Monday to decide the winner. The three teams will flip coins and the winner will sit out, while the other two teams play an abbreviated game. The survivor of that game meets the coin-flip winner for the playoff berth.

"We know what we have to do,'' Williams said. "We have to win on Friday. I just told my team to step up and play a little harder, to give me a little extra effort.''

Region 1-A

The Region 1-A race is confusing at best, and could end in some eventual rule changes and controversy.

The top two spots are filled with Herald No. 1 Seminole County, which went unbeaten to win its first region title in 37 years, and Mitchell County, which has lost to only Seminole, in the runner-up spot.

But three teams -- Pelham, Miller County and Terrell County -- are trying to squeeze into the last two playoff berths.

Those three teams swapped wins. Terrell County beat Miller County, 20-19, Miller County beat Pelham, 20-8, and Pelham beat Terrell County, 28-20.

If all three teams win or lose on Friday, there would be a three-way tie -- sort of. Actually, Pelham would get the third spot, Terrell County would be fourth and Miller County will be left out of the playoffs.

That scenario would create chaos because of a bizarre tiebreaker for Pelham. Here's the problem: Baconton Charter is listed as a member of Region 1-A, but the Blazers don't play a full Region 1-A schedule. Baconton's program is just getting off the ground (the Blazers played their first varsity game last year) and the Blazers played only three region games this season instead of the full slate of seven. The Blazers played Randolph-Clay, Stewart County and Pelham.

Pelham won the game, 33-7, and technically has four wins against region opponents (if you count the win against Baconton) going into Friday's game against Calhoun (2-4). But Baconton didn't play against most of the teams in the region.

"Those are the rules,'' said Miller County coach Frank Killingsworth, who can only hope his team beats Stewart County and Mitchell beats Terrell County to get in the playoffs.

Terrell County and Miller are at 3-3, but didn't get the chance to play winless Baconton. If Terrell, Miller and Pelham all win or all lose, Pelham takes third place with a 5-3 record. Terrell and Miller would be 4-4, 1/2 game behind Pelham, which gets third based on its win against Baconton.

Terrell would get the fourth spot, because the Greenwave beat Miller, 20-19.

Region 1-AAA

Monroe meets Westover at Hugh Mills Stadium on Friday in what is basically a playoff game. If Westover wins, the Patriots are in the playoffs, and if Monroe wins, the Tornadoes are almost in the playoffs.

Confusing? Well, Monroe's fate could be played out at Worth County, where the Rams can force a three-way tie for the final two spots in the Region 1-AAA race with a win against Crisp County.

If Crisp wins and Monroe wins, those two grab the final two playoff spots with Crisp taking third by virtue of a 28-25 win against Monroe.

Even if Worth (2-3 in 1-AAA) beats Crisp (3-2) and Westover (2-3) wins, it forces a three-way tie with Worth, Crisp and Westover at 3-3. But the Patriots still get to the playoffs because the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition and Worth would have beaten both Westover and Crisp to claim the third spot. Westover would get the fourth spot by virtue of its 20-6 midseason win against Crisp County.

"We just have to win,'' Westover coach Octavia Jones said. "We know what the scenario is.''

If Monroe survives the quasi-playoff game at Hugh Mills and Worth wins to create a three-way tie between Worth, Crisp and Monroe at 3-3, it gets a bit crazy, because the second tiebreaker is head-to-head, and the three teams split with each other. Monroe beat Worth, Crisp beat Monroe and Worth would have the Friday night win against Crisp.

The third tiebreaker in the region is points allowed against the teams tied in the playoffs, and Monroe is in great shape.

The Tornadoes beat Worth, 27-6, and lost to Crisp, 28-25, allowing 34 points in two games. Crisp has already allowed 25 so if the Cougars give up 10 points, Monroe has the edge. Worth has already given up 27, so if the Rams give up eight points, Monroe has the edge.

"I didn't make the rule,'' Monroe coach Charles Truitt said Wednesday. "But I like it. It turned out to be in our favor.''

Truitt and the rest of the Region 1-AAA coaches found out about all the tiebreaking scenarios Tuesday at Blackbeard's restaurant in Albany, where they held a region meeting and discussed the list of tiebreakers and scenarios.

"You don't think about it in the regular season,'' Truitt said. "But you want to play hard every game and play good defense every game. But we have to take care of business and win against Westover. If we don't, then the points, the tiebreakers ... none of that matters.''