Photo by Derrick Mahone / North Clayton coach Max Wiltz still has his team pointed in the direction of a possible playoff berth despite their 2-8 record. A win in Friday's play-in game at Stockbridge is needed for that to happen.
For several teams in the Southern Crescent, the season comes down to one final game.
A win this weekend will put them in next week’s playoffs while a loss ends the season.
“You got to win to advance,” Drew coach Jarrett Laws said. “You lose and you start to roll out the basketballs.”
The final week of the regular season has some interesting matchups that have playoff implications.
Lovejoy is the only team in the Southern Crescent that clinched a region title heading into this weekend games.
Here is a look at some key games that will decide playoff positioning and some region titles:
Eagle’s Landing (1-8, 1-3) at Griffin (8-1, 5-0)
This is a contrast of teams headed in opposite directions. The Golden Eagles entered the season with a lot of promise, but has fallen victim to some back luck. Eagle’s Landing has lost three games by a total of five points, but none might have been more crushing than a 35-34 defeated at Locust Grove in the closing seconds as it was trying to run out the clock. The Golden Eagles’ 26 points per game average is fourth-best in the region. But Eagle’s Landing is giving up a region-worst 39 points per game. A win by the sixth-ranked Bears gives them the region No. 2 seed if fifth-ranked Stockbridge defeats North Clayton for a second time this season.
Dutchtown (6-3, 2-2) vs. Jonesboro (8-1, 4-1)
Both teams entered the season with high expectations after returning several talent players. Dutchtown had hoped to finish higher than its No. 3 seed in the subregion, but losses to Stockbridge and Locust Grove put them in a position to travel for the play-in game. Both teams’ offenses feature future SEC players. The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Donovahn Jones, who has committed to Missouri while Jonesboro senior Cameron Sutton has committed to Tennessee. Unless either of the top seeds Griffin and Stockbridge loses, the winner can do no better than the No. 3 seed and will have to travel for first round of the playoffs.
Riverdale (6-3, 3-2) at Locust Grove (6-3, 2-2)
While Riverdale is trying to clinch its first playoff berth since 2005, Locust Grove is in the hunt for the school’s first-ever playoff since it opened in 2009. After going 4-6 last season with some close losses in Olten Downs’ first season at Riverdale, the Raiders were expected to challenge for a playoff spot. Locust Grove has been somewhat of a surprise after never winning more than two games in its previous two varsity seasons. The Raiders defense will be tested against Locust Grove’s offense, which features Keenan Wise and Cortez McDowell, who was recently offered by Georgia.
North Clayton (2-7, 2-3) at Stockbridge (8-1, 4-0)
For North Clayton to clinch its fifth straight playoff berth, the Eagles will have to knock off fifth-ranked Stockbridge. A win by Stockbridge would give the program its first region title in school history. The Tigers are also looking for their first-ever nine-win regular season in school history. North Clayton has won two of its last three games after starting the season with an 0-6 record.
McIntosh (5-4, 1-3) at Union Grove (8-1, 4-0)
The Wolverines clinched the Region 4-AAAAA, Div. B title with a come-from-behind win over Drew last week. For Union Grove to win the region title, it would need for Ola to upset Whitewater. Union Grove is guaranteed a home game in the first round of the playoffs with a win. The Wolverines will need another big game from fullback Derrick Craine, who had 310 yards rushing in the win against Drew.
Northgate (4-5, 2-2) at Mundy’s Mill (4-5, 4-1)
The Tigers had a big in-season turnaround to put themselves in position for a playoff berth. Mundy’s Mill started the season 0-4 before winning four of five subregion games. Much of the team’s success is credited to the emergence of running back Rodney Smith, who has 1,575 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns.
Drew (6-3, 3-2) at Creekside (6-3, 2-1)
The Titans had the Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A title in hand, but blew a 22-point lead to Union Grove to finish in third place. Creekside’s only subregion loss was to Whitewater (17-7) two weeks ago. The winner of this contest will likely have to travel for its first round playoff game.
Landmark Christian (7-2, 5-0) at ELCA (8-1, 5-0)
The winner clinches the Region 5-A championship. The top-ranked Chargers are seeking their third straight region championship. This is a rematch of last season’s Class A semifinals game, which Landmark won 14-7 to advance to its first state title game. During its regular season meeting last season, ELCA won 35-14 in the midst of a 12-game winning streak. Since a 24-19 loss to Washington County of Class AAA, ELCA has won eight straight games, which has included shutouts in four of its last five games. ELCA is currently No. 2 in the Georgia High School Association Power Rankings, which will help determine playoff seeding. Landmark is at No. 10 in the latest power rankings.