By Brian Howard
It's that time of year again, and this time, there are only three high school football teams from Clayton and Henry counties playing this Friday in the opening round of the state playoffs.
Eagle's Landing Christian, Union Grove and Riverdale each advanced to the next stage, with a chance at winning a state crown.
The Eagle's Landing Christian Academy Chargers finished its second year playing in the Georgia High School Association with positive results.
The Chargers went 7-3 throughout the season and were in position to earn their first Region 5-A championship last Friday at home against Landmark Christian. But ELCA couldn't get much going and fell to the War Eagles, 26-9, halting a four-game winning streak.
Despite the loss Friday, ELCA, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-A, gets a chance to play host in a Class A playoff game this Friday against Gordon Lee, the No. 3 seed from Region 6-A.
The Trojans went 5-5 this season. A win by ELCA would be the first playoff win for the school in the two years in the GHSA.
Riverdale experienced the best of its season early, running off seven straight wins to open the season, but have gone 1-2 in its past three games. Perhaps the turning point for the Raiders season came early with a 37-34 victory against a Lovejoy team that has constantly given Riverdale fits in the past.
The Raiders (8-2) had a chance to play host to a playoff game if they had beaten Stephenson Saturday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium. Riverdale would have earned the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AAAAA, but the Raiders fell to the Jaguars, 23-13, sending Riverdale (No. 3 seed) on the road to Valdosta for the fourth time in the past five years.
Valdosta went 6-4, and are coming off a 24-14 victory over Colquitt County.
In 2001, Valdosta beat the Raiders, 17-6, ending Riverdale's season at 9-2. In 2002, Riverdale fell to the Wildcats, 7-0, ending the season at 6-4.
Union Grove went 8-2 and are coming off a 34-26 victory on Oct. 21 to Mundy's Mill. Union Grove earned the No. 3 seed in Region 4-AAAAA and will travel to Glynn Academy Friday in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Terrors went 7-3 and enter the playoff contest Friday off a 17-12 victory over Brunswick.