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Playoff picture becoming clearer

Lovejoy coach Al Hughes and his fourth-ranked Wildcats squad take on Luella in a key Region 2-AAAAAA game on Friday at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Lovejoy coach Al Hughes and his fourth-ranked Wildcats squad take on Luella in a key Region 2-AAAAAA game on Friday at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Coach Greg Manior’s Mundy’s Mill squad has had a short turnaround from last week’s win over Drew as the Tigers face Forest Park on Thursday night at Southern Crescent Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

JONESBORO — Slow starts and fast finishes seems to be the method that teams are using in the Southern Crescent.

This season is no exception, as several teams that got off to winless starts are now in the thick of the playoff hunt.

The last few games of the regular season will give a good indication of which teams can expect a shot at the postseason.

Here is a look at some of the top games in the area:

Forest Park vs. Mundy’s Mill: Forest Park enjoyed an bye week while the Tigers won a key subregion game against Drew on Friday. It will be a short week of recovery for Mundy’s Mill after a physical contest in a 30-14 win over Drew. Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith had his fourth straight game of at least 100 yards rushing, and comes into the Thursday evening contest with 630 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns. Mundy’s Mill needs the win to keep pace with Union Grove for the subregion title.

Luella vs. Lovejoy: This game could go a long way in deciding the region championship. Lovejoy, the defending Region 2-AAAAAA champion, is 3-0 in region play while Newton sits at 2-0 in the league standings. Luella enters the contest at 2-1 in the league standings after a big win over Rockdale. In its 28-14 win over Rockdale, Luella got 21 points from its defense. The Lions had two interceptions and a fumble recovery returned for touchdowns. For the third straight region game, the majority of Lovejoy starters didn’t play in the second half with its blowout win against Morrow.

Riverdale at Upson-Lee: In the next two weeks, Upson-Lee will know if it is a contender for the subregion championship as the Knights battle Riverdale this Friday and then travel to No. 3 Griffin for another matchup. Upson-Lee still controls its own destiny for the subregion title, while the Raiders must win out to better position themselves for the playoffs. Riverdale struggled in a 20-19 win over winless Spalding last week as a blocked extra-point attempt proved to be the difference. Senior Trey Sanders returned the opening second half kickoff 99 yards as the Raiders would take the lead for good.

Drew at Ola: Both teams need a win to stay in the playoff chase. After an 0-5 start, Ola has quickly put itself in a position to challenge for a subregion title, or at least a second place finish if it can win out. The Mustangs gave subregion co-leader Union Grove all it could handle before a 16-14 loss a couple of weeks ago. In the next two weeks, Ola will face Drew and Mundy’s Mill. Drew needs the win to remain in the subregion race.