Monroe head football coach Charles Truitt and his Tornadoes kept their playoff hopes alive thanks to Friday’s win against Dougherty, but now face a must-win against city rival Westover on Friday to make the postseason. (Herald file photo)
Playoffs on Friday night?
That's how wild and confusing the Region 1-AAA race is. It will come down to the final night of the regular season to decide which teams land in the third and fourth spots -- and of course the top four reach the postseason.
The biggest game will be at Hugh Mills Stadium, where Monroe and Westover will meet not only to decide the city title, but in what is in essence a playoff game. One way or another, the loser will be out, and if Crisp County beats Worth County on Friday, then the winner of the Westover-Monroe game is in the playoffs.
Confused? Who isn't in this wild race?
OK, two teams are already in the playoffs. Cairo (5-0) and Americus-Sumter (4-1) are in the playoffs and play for the region title Friday in Cairo. Yes, Americus-Sumter can win the title, because if the Panthers win Friday they will be tied with Cairo at 4-1 in the region. But the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition, and Americus-Sumter can take care of that Friday.
That leaves four teams trying to squeeze into the final two spots, and those teams meet Friday.
Westover (2-3 in 1-AAA) and Monroe (2-3) meet at Hugh Mills, but they will be looking down the road in Sylvester, where Worth County (2-3) can created a bit of havoc with a win against Crisp County (3-2).
Crisp, which beat Americus-Sumter and has only lost to Westover and Cairo in the region, can nail down the No. 3 spot in the region and a playoff berth at 4-2 with a win. But if Worth beats Crisp, then Worth and Crisp have identical 3-3 records. The winner of the Westover and Monroe will also be 3-3.
So a win by Worth County would create a three-way tie, with two teams advancing to the playoffs.
If Worth beats Crisp and Westover wins, those teams would all be tied at 3-3, but Worth would win the first tiebreaker because Worth beat Westover already and Friday's win against Crisp would give the Rams a 2-0 record against the teams they are tied with. Worth would be in.
That would leave the last spot between Crisp and Westover, and Westover beat Crisp, 20-6, and would win that tiebreaker.
But hang on ... it gets a little crazy if Monroe beats Westover.
But if Monroe and Worth win it would mean, Monroe, Worth and Crisp are tied with 3-3 records. Those three teams all beat each other. Monroe beat Worth. Crisp beat Monroe, but Worth's beating Crisp on Friday would seal a deadlock.
"Crisp needs to beat Worth, and then the winner of our game is in,'' Monroe coach Charles Truitt, said. "(Westover and Monroe) will want Crisp to win. We have to cheer for Crisp so one of us will be in.
"But we have to win, and that's all we really need to think about. We have to win our game. If we take care of business then we'll see what happens (at the Worth-Crisp game).''
Everyone will know the scenario on Tuesday when all the coaches in Region 1-AAA have their regional meeting at Blackbeard's restaurant in Albany.
"We will talk about all the scenarios at that meeting,'' Truitt said.
But Monroe could be playing in three-way tiebreaker game the Monday following the season.
"We have a tiebreaker rule and those three teams could meet on Monday after the season is over and play each other,'' Americus-Sumter coach Michael Pollock said. "If Worth wins and Monroe wins they would all be tied with Crisp, and since they beat each other we could have a tiebreaker game. They flip a coin and two teams play two five-minute halves, and the winner plays the team that won the coin flip and sat out the first-round game.''
NO STOPPING FOR WILDCATS: Westwood's third season?
That's the way Westwood coach Ross Worsham looks at it.
"You've got your first season when you play the four non-region games,'' he said. "Then you've got the region schedule, and then you've got the playoffs. We're in the third season now.''
Westwood wrapped up the GISA Region 2-A title with a 54-7 win against Terrell Academy on Friday, finishing a perfect 10-0, and extending its two-year winning streak to 23 games dating back to last year.
"We got the job done,'' said Worsham's son, Mason, the team's quarterback who helped the Wildcats go 13-0 last year and win the GISA Class A state title. "Now we've got the playoffs. I think everyone's pretty excited.''
The Wildcats also have a bye week and home field throughout the three-game playoffs.
"I'm going to give them Monday off, and let them go hunting or fishing or whatever they want to do,'' Ross Worsham said. "And then get back to football. Then we'll find out who we're playing and start getting ready. This team is a little different from last year. We only had four seniors on last year's team. This year we've got nine. They've stayed hungry. We just have to keep hungry and stay humble.''
FUNNY STORY: Maybe the best moment on the field that didn't involve a play came in the Mitchell County-Calhoun County game last week after a penalty.
Calhoun County saw a big run wiped out by a holding penalty and the flag was late and well behind the play, which infuriated Calhoun's coaches. Every coach on the sideline was screaming at the officials about the call when Calhoun running back Willie Brown stepped out of the huddle and looked back at the Calhoun sideline.
"It's OK, coach,'' shouted Brown. "It's OK. It's OK. We'll be alright.''
Now that's leadership.