5. Mays at Douglas County, Oct. 5: Coach Johnny White has done a great job of revitalizing the Douglas County program. Coach White is 16-6 in his first two seasons with the Tigers snapping the program’s eight-year streak without a winning season upon his arrival. The one thing his team hasn’t been able to do yet is compete with the Mays Raiders. Douglas County has been outscored by Mays 90-3 the last two years but this year the Tigers get the Raiders at home.
Coach Niketa Battle has continued what his former boss Corey Jarvis started and that’s turning Mays into a state championship contender. The Raiders are 44-9 the last four seasons and last year won 11 straight until being stopped by eventual state champion Lee County in the quarterfinals.
Mays’ success has not gone unnoticed and this year Mays has been included in the Corky Kell Classic field and will play Norcross at Mercedes-Benz Stadium two Saturdays from now. Last year’s game between Mays and Douglas County decided the Region 5-6A title and I expect the same this year.
4. Glynn Academy at Brunswick, Oct. 19: This game will likely decide the Region 2-6A championship and perhaps just as big, bragging rights in the city of Brunswick. You can’t say enough about what Coach Rocky Hidalgo has done at Glynn Academy. He’s gone 41-13 in his four seasons with the Red Terrors and got them to the 2015 State Championship Game. Hidalgo’s teams have not won less than nine games in any of his four seasons there.
For perspective, Glynn Academy had had only one season with more than nine wins in the previous 51 seasons before his arrival. But what he did last year in the wake of the devastation left behind by Hurricane Irma might have been his best work yet. The fact they were even able to finish the season much less reach the state semifinals before losing a 42-38 shootout at eventual state champion Lee County was absolutely remarkable.
Sean Pender’s first season at Brunswick witnessed a 7-3 turnaround for a program that had not won that many games since 2010. Glynn won the bragging rights battle and the region title last year with a 26-13 victory. The Pirates rebounded from that to win three straight before falling to Northside-Warner Robins 24-21 in the first round of the playoffs.