By Doug Gorman
So much for playing out the string.
With the regular season coming to a close Friday night, several area high school football games will still have playoff implications.
Eagle's Landing Christian vs. Whitefield Academy:
This game is for all the marbles in Region 5-A. Both teams have identical 8-1 overall records and 7-0 region slates coming into the regular-season finale in McDonough. The good news is both teams have already clinched a spot in the playoffs and a home game, but a region championship is on the line in McDonough.
The Chargers lost the opening game of the season to Henry County, but have won eight straight heading into Friday's 7:30 kickoff. Whitefield's only loss of the year was to Athens Academy in a non-region game, but has since won seven games in a row. This will be the fifth meeting between the two teams, with ELCA holding a 3-1 edge.
Union Grove vs. M .L. King:
Stephenson has all but clinched the top spot in Region 2-AAAAA after beating both Union Grove and M.L. King, but heading into the last game of the regular season, all three teams own 5-1 region records. Stephenson closes out its regular season with a game against Douglass.
Friday night's game at Union Grove is for the No. 2 seed and right to play host to a first-round Region 2- AAAAA playoff game.
Luella vs Newton
The Luella and Newton game comes down to this-a victory over the Rams, and Luella makes the playoffs for the first time in school history. A loss could make things really interesting.
Luella comes into the game with a 3-3 record, but would sit in fourth place all alone with a victory against the Rams.
Should they lose, Luella would drop to 3-4 along with Newton. Douglass and Redan also come into Friday's season finale with 2-4 records. Douglass would have to pull off a major upset to go 3-4 as it plays Region 2-AAAAA front-runner Stephneson. Redan, which beat Luella, plays Greenbrier, which hasn't won a league game this year.
Jonesboro vs. Stockbridge:
The Jonesboro Cardinals control their own destiny coming into Friday night's game at Stockbridge. The Cardinals are 4-3 in Region 4-AAAA and are trying to secure the No. 4 seed in the league.
If Jonesboro wins, they will move to 5-3 overall. Then they will have to do some scoreboard watching. Alcovy, which is also 4-3 takes on Griffin. If Alcovy upsets the Bears, they move to 5-3. Alcovy beat Jonesboro earlier this year and would win the tiebreker against Cardinals.
Dutchtown is also 5-3 and plays Region 4-AAAA champion North Clayton.
Dutchtown beat Alcovy this year, but lost to Jonesboro. For the Bulldogs to make the playoffs, they would have to upset North Clayton, which is undefeated in the region and Jonesboro and Alcovy would both have to lose.
North Clayton has spent the past few weeks in the Region 4-AAAA driver's seat and ill be the No. 1 seed in the region even if the Bulldogs pull off the upset.
Riverdale vs Creekside:
Nick Davis is trying to guide the Raiders back to the playoffs for the first time since the team went 8-3 in 2005. Riverdale comes into the game at Creekside as one of three teams with a 5-3 record in Region 4-AAAAA, includng Creekside and Westlake, making tonight's game a must-win situation for the Raiders.
Westlake, which is also trying to get into the playoffs in the fourth spot, beat Creekside but lost to Riverdale.
Woodward vs. Woodland:
Simply put, Woodland has to win to make the playoffs for the first time in school history.
In just its second year of operation, Woodland coach Scott Schmitt's club is 5-4 overall and 5-2 in the region.
If Woodland beat Woodward Academy, the Wolf Pack close out the year at 6-4.
Should Woodland lose and Mary Persons win, there will be a three-way tie for the final two spots. A head-to-head tiebreaker will be moot since Woodland beat Mary Persons but lost to Eagle's Landing, which lost to Mary Persons.
The second tiebreaker will be records in AAA competition, according to Eagle's Landing coach Joe Teknipp. Both Eagle's Landing and Mary Persons would finish with better records against AAA competition, thus eliminating Woodland from the playoffs. Mary Persons would finish third, based on its head-to-head record against Eagle's Landing, which would finish fourth.