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Playoffs are certain for some, hopeful for others

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

With two games remaining in the high school football regular season, the playoff picture is starting to become clear for some teams, but foggy - and nerve-racking - for others.

Here is a look at the Southern Crescent teams that have either clinched a playoff spot or still have work to do:

Dutchtown

It seems injust that in the Bulldogs' best season in school history, they need a miraculous finish to make the playoffs.

Dutchtown (6-2, 4-2 Region 4-AAAA) ends the season with games against No. 1 Griffin and No. 6 North Clayton. So to grab the fourth playoff spot, the Bulldogs must win out and have Alcovy lose to either Forest Park or Griffin, or, preferrably, both in its final two games.

Eagle's Landing Christian

Sitting in second place at the moment, the Chargers (6-2, 5-1 Region 5-A) face a critical game in their season finale against Whitefield Academy.

That game could determine the second seed coming out of 5-A and be the difference between ELCA hosting a first round playoff game or going on the road.

Henry County

After graduating such talents as quarterback Drew Little (Georgia State) and Jamal Patterson (Stanford) among 26 seniors, the Warhawks faced a season of some uncertainty.

But here they are again, all but assured their third-straight playoff appearance.

The only work left to do for Henry County (5-3, 4-1 Region 4-AA) is to hold onto second place to secure a home game in the first round. With games left against bottom-dwellers Howard and Monticello, the Warhawks appear in good shape.

Lovejoy

There is hope still for the Wildcats (3-5, 3-4 Region 4-AAAAA) to return to the playoffs for the first time in two years, all thanks to their 15-14 victory over Creekside on October 16.

Now, Lovejoy finds itself in a tie for fifth with the Seminoles and one game behind two teams tied for fourth (Chapel Hill, Pebblebrook). A win against Chapel Hill this Friday is paramount for the Wildcats' faint postseason hopes.

Luella

A year removed from the Lions' first winning season and playoff appearance in school history, Luella (3-5, 2-3 Region 2-AAAAA) faces a unique situation - rooting for Union Grove this week.

If Union Grove defeats Newton on Friday and Luella handles Douglass this week, it sets up a winner-takes-all scenario in the Lions' final game against Newton on November 6.

Mt. Zion

The Bulldogs (7-2, 5-2 Region 4-AAAA) came up short against region powers Griffin and North Clayton, but they made statements nonetheless by thoroughly beating Alcovy (22-10) and Dutchtown (24-0). Those wins secured Mt. Zion's playoff spot.

A win against Ola on Thursday would secure third place for the Bulldogs and give them a more favorable match-up in the playoffs.

North Clayton

The playoffs were hardly in question for the Eagles (7-1, 5-1 Region 4-AAAA) when the season began. Whether they could repeat as region champions was the real question.

That seems less likely after North Clayton's 26-14 loss to No. 1 Griffin, though the Bears finish with games against two desperate teams in Alcovy and Dutchtown.

Regardless, North Clayton should host a first-round playoff game for the second year in a row.

Union Grove

The Wolverines (7-1, 4-1 Region 2-AAAAA) have already clinched a playoff berth, their second in a row under coach Steven Collins. Whether they'll begin the playoffs at home or on the road is still to be determined.

That will most likely come down to the season finale November 7 at M.L. King.

But before that, Union Grove must beat Newton, a much-improved team that played tough in losses to Stephenson (13-7, overtime), M.L. King (15-8) and Alcovy (17-8).

Woodland

Only two Henry County teams have reached the playoffs in just their second varsity season - Union Grove and Woodland. Even more impressive is that the Wolfpack (7-2, 6-1 Region 4-AAA) could secure a home playoff game in the first round.

Should Woodward Academy lose to Jackson this Friday, Woodland will clinch second-place with a win over the War Eagles in the season finale November 6. Woodward Academy beat Woodland last year, 41-0.