Herald High School Writer Mike Phillips
It’s the last week of the regular season and first week of the playoffs for a couple of area GISA AA teams this week.
Like always, it got here in a hurry.
A lot has already been decided in GISA. Deerfield has wrapped up the GISA Region 1-AAA title and home field throughout the playoffs and should cap off a big season with a win against its biggest rival Southland in Americus tonight. Southland, which got off to such great start this season, will be left out of the playoffs. The Raiders, whose head coach Tim Goodin predicted a region title before the year began, were 5-0 at one point in the season, but a loss tonight will leave them at 1-4 in the region with the lone 1-AAA win coming against Tiftarea.
PREDICTIONS: DWS 45, Southland 14
SGA AND WESTWOOD OPEN PLAYOFFS THIS WEEKEND: There are more Class AA schools in GISA this year, so those teams play an extra round of playoffs, and that’s why Westwood and SGA begin the playoffs this weekend. SGA, the No. 3 seed out of Region 2-AA, will have a tough time on the road against No. 2 seeded Gatewood tonight in the playoffs, but I still look for the Warriors — who won three of their final five games — to pull off the upset.
Westwood, meanwhile, won’t be upsetting anybody Saturday night when the Wildcats open the Class AA playoffs at home with a big win against Briarwood. Westwood made the move this offseason from Class A, where the Wonders won 26 games and two state titles in a row, to AA in 2012, and they barely slowed down despite a rash of injuries.
They’re 8-2, and the losses came to Class AAA Stratford on the road and to Valwood — the top-ranked team in AA — also on the road. They know all about streaks at Westwood, and they will begin a run Saturday, one that will take them to the state title game, where I think they will beat Valwood in the rematch and win another state crown. Stay tuned.
PREDICTIONS: SGA 28, Gatewood 24; Westwood 35, Briarwood 14.
There are some interesting endings winding down in GHSA, where they are going to have to make some changes to the power-rating rule in Class A before next season. We could have a three-way tie for first place in Region 1-A with only one team qualifying for the playoffs.
Seminole can nail down the GHSA Region 1-A title with a win against Mitchell County in Camilla tonight, but if Mitchell wins there will be tons to talk about.
Mitchell could create a three-way tie at the top with Seminole, Mitchell and Miller with a win tonight. In that scenario, Miller would win the region based on the first tiebreaker — record against all Class A opponents. Because of the power-rating format that only guarantees that the region champ advances to the playoffs, there is a possibility that Seminole and Mitchell could literally tie for first place in the region and be left out of the playoffs.
There’s a still a chance all three could make it to the playoffs, but no one will know until all the results are in this weekend and the final power ratings come out, because part of the formula is based on what your opponents’ overall record is.
So — for instance — Mitchell has to hope Albany High beats Westover on Saturday, and Seminole and Miller need to cheer for Early County against Cook tonight.
Crazy? You bet it is. And it’s got to change.
PREDICTION: Seminole 21, Mitchell 14
A WRAP ON REGION 1-AAAA? NOT QUITE: We know that Cairo has won the Region 1-AAAA title and that Westover is the runner-up and will host a playoff game for the first time in its history next week — no matter what the Patriots do Saturday night against city rival Albany High. Westover not only wants to go out with a win and momentum headed into the playoffs, but a victory against Albany High would give the Patriots the city title and a sweep against Monroe, Dougherty and the Indians.
But there’s a lot left to be decided in that region, where Worth County, Americus-Sumter and Crisp County all have a chance to grab a playoff berth tonight as the No. 4 seed.
Worth County can nail down that playoff berth with a win against Monroe at Hugh Mills tonight, and the Rams are catching Monroe at the right time just a week after a bitter and frustrating loss to Cairo. The Tornadoes have already made the playoffs and know they will be on the road, and it might be tough to come back after losing to Cairo against a Worth team (3-3) that is playing for its life tonight.
Worth could actually win the No. 3 spot with a victory against Monroe because both teams would end up 4-3 in the region and Worth would own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Worth could still get in the playoffs even if Monroe wins, but Crisp County (2-4) would have to beat Americus-Sumter (2-4) on the road. In that scenario, Worth and Crisp would finish tied at 3-4 and Worth would get the berth because the Rams beat Crisp earlier in the season, 10-6.
The final scenario is this: If Monroe beats Worth and Americus-Sumter beats Crisp, then Americus and Worth would be tied for the last playoff spot and Americus would win the tiebreaker based on its 40-14 win against Worth earlier this year.
PREDICTIONS: Monroe 28, Worth 14; Americus-Sumter 21, Crisp County 14; Westover 30, Albany High 28
HUGE GAME IN BAINBRIDGE: There’s a lot on the line tonight in Bainbridge, where the Bearcats host Lee County in a game that will not only decide the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds in Region 1-AAAAA but will decide who finishes the season ranked No. 1 in The Herald Fab 5 poll.
This is a classic showdown between two different philosophies: Lee runs a wide-open offense, and Bainbridge runs the Veer as well as anyone. The Bearcats are tough, disciplined and can pound the ground with anyone. And no one hits harder than the Bainbridge defense, which held region champs Cairo and Thomas County Central to 14 points each in regulation this season.
But Lee County gets the nod here because the Trojans can score in so many ways. This game should be for the No. 2 seed in the region, but both Bainbridge and Lee lost heartbreakers in the last minute to Harris County on the road. In both cases, they were coming off a close loss to TCC, which is ranked No. 4 in the state, and had a letdown on the road.
Had those games not been in Harris County, Bainbridge and Lee would be playing for the No. 2 seed tonight. There’s enough on the line any way. It’s a tough one to call, but the guess here is Lee finds a way to get into the end zone enough to get the win.
PREDICTION: Lee County 30, Bainbridge 28
BEST OF THE REST:
Cook 21, Early County 20
Crisp Academy 28, Randolph Southern 20
Terrell County 24, Randolph-Clay 18
Calhoun County 21,
Stewart County 0
Thomasville 35, Pelham 14
Cairo 28, Dougherty 14