St. Pius X at Grady
St Pius X will host the Grady Grey Knights to determine who will play for the Region Championship in the Region 5-AAA play-in game. Both teams enter the game with identical 6-1 overall records; Grady lost to Blessed Trinity and St. Pius X lost to Westminster. Golden Lions head coach Paul Standard is coaching his 10th year and sports a record of 81-31. His Lions won the 2009 region title and lost to eventual state champion Peach County in overtime in the quarterfinals. Grady is averaging 45 points per game and allowing five points per game; they beat North Springs last week 76-6. The Grey Knights are led defensively by Score 44 standout Damian Swann.
Stephenson at East Coweta
The No 9-ranked East Coweta Indians play host to the No. 5-ranked Stephenson Jaguars in a showdown of two undefeated teams that should determine the pecking order of Region 2-AAAAA. The talent-laden Jags are led by three Score 44 players (CB Jared Boyd, C Tarik Cook, S Kadetrix Marcus), and have been to the state playoffs every year since 2000. The Indians’ playoff appearances stretch back to 1997 with three region titles. Despite their postseason experience, neither team has won a state championship.
Etowah at Woodstock
The Woodstock Wolverines play host to the Etowah Eagles in neighborhood rivalry. The game also has region playoff ramifications for Region 5-AAAAA. Etowah, region champion in 2008, are on pace for the best record in school history and beat Marietta last week 36-29. Woodstock (6-1) enjoyed an open date to prepare for Etowah and has never won a region championship. Each school has won five games in the 10-year series, but Etowah has won four of the last six. Kell has accounted for each schools’ lone loss.
Washington County at Burke County
The Golden Hawks of Washington County play host to the Burke County Bears at “The House of Pain” in a game featuring Region 3S-AAA rivals that will determine who plays the Region 3N champion for the No. 1 seed. The game pits the Bears’ high-powered offense, which is averaging an impressive 45 points per game, against a Golden Hawk defense that has allowed only 45 points in the last five games. Washington County last won a region championship in 2006 and last won a state title in 1997. Burke County has three region championships but has no state titles or appearances.
Centennial at North Forsyth
This homecoming game for North Forsyth gained even greater importance last week when the Raiders upset region leader West Forsyth throwing playoff seeding up in the air for Region 6, Class 5A. West had led the region with an undefeated record, including a win over Centennial. Now, with three weeks to play, five teams are tied atop the region standings. The Raiders are trying to earn a playoff spot for the second consecutive year and are led offensively by QB Joey Vicary and WR Nick Saparona. The Knights of Centennial are coming off an upset victory of preseason favorite Roswell (17-14) two weeks ago and are trying to win the school’s first region title since 2001. This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Camden County at Jenkins
This game is essentially for the Region 3-AAAAA championship. No. 1 Camden Co. has dominated this region in recent years, winning nine straight region titles and 76 straight region games. The Wildcats have won all six in this series and have only given up six total points to Jenkins. The closest game between these two was a 45-6 Camden Co. win in 2006. However, the Warriors are a veteran team after returning 18 starters from the 2009 team that made the playoffs.
Calhoun at Dade County
No. 3 Calhoun faces a stiff test Friday night when they travel to undefeated Dade County for the two schools’ first meeting since 1954. The Yellow Jackets have won all five matchups. The 7-0 Wolverines have only given up points in two of their games this season, but gave up 43 in a game against Gordon Central. Meanwhile, Calhoun has just two shutouts, but has given up no more than 14 in any single game this year.
Darlington at Trion
The Class A No. 9 Tigers travel to 6-1 Trion in an important Region 7A game. Darlington leads the series 8-3, but has lost three of the last five including last season’s 21-14 defeat at home. The Tigers, the defending region champs, look to wrap up their sixth region title since 1996 while Trion will look for their 13th region title all time and first since 2003.
Grayson at South Gwinnett
The No. 7 Rams have won out since their season-opening loss to Kell. Grayson has a 23-game winning streak in Region 7-AAAAA and is in sole possession of first place thus far in 2010. South Gwinnett boasts prolific running backs Aaron Wimberly and Trevon Walker, who had 257 yards last week against Dacula. The Comets trail this series 5-3 and have lost the past four games. A win by Grayson would set up a showdown with Brookwood next week for the region title, which the Rams have won three straight times.
Contributors: Jay Thomason