High School Football
State playoff puzzle begins to take shape
by Chris Goltermann
(Insert Obamacare website joke here) Seriously, when it comes to confusion, there aren’t too many things that can rival trying to figure out playoff implications in high school football with just two weeks left in the regular season, especially without a crystal ball.
While eight games have certainly put some of the puzzle pieces into place, there’s still a lot that can happen from now until Nov. 8, when Team A in purple plays Team B in navy or Team C in royal blue plays Team D in black … get what we mean?
In some regions, the playoff picture is crystal clear. Others remain a bit foggier heading into this Friday’s games.
Here’s what we know — or in other cases … what we think we know — on a region-by-region and team-by-team basis.
Time to shake up the Magic 8-Ball.
WITHOUT A DOUBT
Langston Hughes (7-1, 3-0)
Games Remaining: vs. Tri-Cities (Friday), at Westlake (Nov. 8)
Comment: The Panthers are the first 3-AAAAAA team to the reach the three-win plateau and can lock up a second-straight region title with a victory on Friday at home against winless Tri-Cities AND a Newnan victory over Westlake. Barring a win by the Lions over Newnan, Hughes will need to win both of its remaining games, including a Nov. 7 regular-season finale at Westlake.
Newnan (5-3, 2-1)
Games Remaining: vs. Westlake (Friday), vs. East Coweta (Nov. 8)
Comment: Three teams are all knotted together in second place tied at 2-1, one game behind Langston Hughes, but for now, only the Cougars have clinched. That’s because Newnan now has wins over 0-3 Douglas County and Tri-Cities, neither of which could leapfrog the Cougars either in head-to-head or three-way tiebreaker scenarios.
Newnan could win a 3-AAAAAA title, though it would take winning out AND having Langston Hughes lose both of its last two games.
While bragging rights are always first and foremost when it comes to the annual Newnan/East Coweta game, this year’s contest is also likely to carry huge playoff implications that could include the difference between hosting a first-round game or having to travel to Camden County (7-1), Colquitt County (7-1) or Lowndes (7-2) to open the postseason.
East Coweta (4-4, 2-1)
Games Remaining: vs. Douglas County (Friday) at Newnan (Nov. 8)
Comment: Despite being unable to finish out last week’s 42-14 loss to Langston Hughes in a 7-point game that got out of hand in the fourth quarter, it’s as simple as this for East Coweta. Beat the Tigers at home and East Coweta clinches a state-playoff berth regardless what happens at Newnan.
Like the Cougars, however, the Indians have a chance to win a region title as well should they be able to win both remaining games AND having the Panthers lose both of theirs. Currently, East Coweta holds a tiebreaker over Westlake, with back-to-back wins to close the season clinching at least second-place in 3-AAAAAA and a first-round state playoff game at home against the No. 3 seed from 1-AAAAAA.
Westlake (5-3, 2-1)
Games Remaining: at Newnan (Friday), vs. Langston Hughes (Nov. 8)
Comment: The Lions have arguably the toughest road remaining, but can clinch a playoff berth without winning another game as long as East Coweta defeats Douglas County on Friday. Because the Indians have a head-to-head tiebreaker among the top four remaining teams — two of which still remain on the upcoming schedule — there’s the slightest chance that a Tigers’ victory could force a three-way tiebreaker between Douglas County, Westlake and East Coweta.
Stay with me here.
Westlake and East Coweta could lose their final two games to finish 2-3 and Douglas County could win its last two to also end the year at 2-3 in 3-AAAAAA. That would force a three-way tiebreaker determined by the region since all three teams would have finished 1-1 in head-to-head matchups. If it’s points allowed, Douglas County may still be on the outside looking in.
ASK AGAIN LATER
Douglas County (2-6, 0-3)
Games remaining: at East Coweta (Friday), vs. Tri-Cities (Nov. 8)
Comment: It simply comes down to the Tigers needing back-to-back victories to close the season to have a chance, starting with this week’s trip to East Coweta. Then Douglas County would need a Newnan win over East Coweta to force a possible head-to-head tiebreaker over the Indians.
DON’T COUNT ON IT
Tri-Cities (0-7-1, 0-3)
Games remaining: at Langston Hughes (Friday), at Douglas County (Nov. 8)
Comment: The Bulldogs have been eliminated from postseason contention following last week’s loss to Westlake.
(Editor’s Note: The region holds a Nov. 8 play-in game where the No. 1 finishers in each subregion host the No. 4 seed in the opposite division. Each second-place finisher will also hosts the No. 3 seed from the opposing subregion. The winners of all four games advance to the state playoff)
WITHOUT A DOUBT
Creekside (9-0, 4-0)
Games remaining: Nov. 8 Play-In Game vs. Ola
Comment: The Seminoles responded to the tragic loss of junior defender De’Antre Turman by reeling off nine unanswered victories to claim the subregion crown and can clinch the 4-AAAAA overall title by defeating Ola (2-6, 2-2), the No. 4 seed out of 4A-AAAAA next week at home following a bye.
ASK AGAIN LATER
Northgate (4-4, 1-2), Whitewater (5-3, 1-2), McIntosh (6-2, 1-2), Starr’s Mill (3-5, 1-2)
Games remaining: Northgate at McIntosh, Starr’s Mill at Whitewater (Friday), Region Play-In on Nov. 8
Comment: This is where the subregion is an absolute toss-up. While Creekside went undefeated in 4B-AAAAA, the remaining four schools — Northgate, Whitewater, McIntosh and Starr’s Mill — have all gone 1-1 against one another so far, creating a logjam for second place in the standings.
While Northgate travels to McIntosh, Starr’s Mill heads to Whitewater. The two winners will finish second and third depending on the result of their head-to-head game during the year.
Here are the scenarios for second through fifth place with a win this Friday for each of the four teams:
Northgate win, Starr’s Mill win — 2. Northgate, 3. Starr’s Mill, 4. McIntosh, 5. Whitewater
Northgate win, Whitewater win — 2. Whitewater, 3. Northgate, 4. Starr’s Mill, 5. McIntosh
McIntosh win, Starr’s Mill win — 2. Starr’s Mill, 3. McIntosh, 4. Whitewater, 5. Northgate
McIntosh win, Whitewater win — 2. McIntosh, 3. Whitewater, 4. Northgate, 5. Starr’s Mill
Whitewater win, Northgate win — 2. Whitewater, 3. Northgate, 4. Starr’s Mill, 5. McIntosh
Whitewater win, McIntosh win — 2. McIntosh, 3. Whitewater, 4. Northgate, 5. Starr’s Mill
Starr’s Mill win, Northgate win — 2. Northgate, 3. Starr’s Mill, 4. McIntosh, 5. Whitewater
Starr’s Mill, McIntosh win — 2. Starr’s Mill, 3. McIntosh, 4. Whitewater, 5. Northgate
GISA REGION 2-AAA
WITHOUT A DOUBT
Stratford Academy (6-2, 3-0)
Games Remaining: Friday vs. Mount de Sales, Nov. 8 at Westminster-Augusta
Comment: The Eagles have already clinched a state-playoff berth for the fifth consecutive year and need a victory on Friday to wrap up the program’s ninth region title in school history.
Mount de Sales (3-5, 3-0)
Games Remaining: Friday at Stratford Academy, Nov. 8 vs. Tattnall Square
Comment: The Cavaliers clinched a berth with last week’s 20-3 win over Trinity at home while now holding head-to-head tiebreakers over the Lions, Heritage School and Westminster-Augusta, all of whom are 0-3 in the region.
Tattnall Square (6-2, 2-1)
Games Remaining: Friday vs. The Heritage School, Nov. 8 at Mount de Sales
Comment: The Trojans can clinch a state playoff berth with a victory this week over The Heritage School at home despite suffering its first region loss last week to Stratford in a 14-13 defeat. Tattnall already holds tiebreakers over Trinity Christian and Westminster-Augusta.
The Trojans can finish no worse than a tie for the final state playoff berth with Trinity Christian and The Heritage School should Tattnall lose its remaining two games and Trinity Christian win both of its last two.
ASK AGAIN LATER
The Heritage School (3-5, 1-2)
Games Remaining: Friday at Tattnall Square, Nov. 8 vs. Trinity Christian
Comment: The Hawks have to win at least one of its remaining two games to have a chance of returning to the state playoffs. Heritage can finish as high as third with victories in both of its last two games to hold tiebreakers over the Trojans and Lions.
Heritage, however, can beat Tattnall Square and still miss the playoffs IF Trinity wins both of its final games and Tattnall wins its finale against Mount de Sales.
Trinity Christian (4-4, 0-3)
Games Remaining: Friday vs. Westminster-Augusta, Nov. 8 at The Heritage School
Comment: A loss this week by the Lions would create a must-win scenario for Trinity in the regular-season finale at The Heritage School but ONLY if the Hawks lose on Friday at Tattnall.
A Trinity loss coupled by a Heritage victory over Tattnall this week would eliminate the Lions from playoff contention.
Like the Hawks, Trinity can also clinch a state-playoff berth with wins in its final two games but can’t finish higher than fourth-place in the region.
Westminster Augusta (6-3, 0-3)
Games remaining: Friday at Trinity Christian, Nov. 8 vs. Stratford Academy
Comment: It all comes down to this week for the Wildcats in a must-win situation against Trinity. In order to gain a possible head-to-head or three-way tiebreaker scenario, Westminster must defeat Trinity this week. That’s because an upset over Stratford on Nov. 8 could set up a three-way finish for fourth with Heritage School and Trinity among 1-3 teams. But the Wildcats would be out due to head-to-head losses to both the Hawks and Lions.
One wild scenario would have Westminster, Heritage and Trinity in a three-way tiebreaker for fourth place IF Westminster beats Trinity on Friday AND Trinity defeats Heritage on Nov. 8 following a Hawks loss to Tattnall.
Everybody got that …