Region 1 gets a vacation this week as all eight teams enjoy a bye. Elsewhere in the classification, Marist, Jefferson, Madison County, Salem, Gilmer and Troup will also be off until Week 9. The rest of the Week 8 slate will be packed with region matchups and three storylines in particular stand above the rest when it comes to the playoff picture.
1. Spalding at West Laurens
After falling 17-14 to Mary Persons in its region opener last Friday, Spalding faces a pivotal region matchup against a West Laurens team coming off a 46-14 win over Howard to open a clean region record. A second loss in this six-team region could fissure Spalding’s bid for a top 2 seed, which could be problematic with the first round pairings. Region 2 is paired up with Region 4 in the first round and the Jags don’t want to have to take a trip to an Eastside, Woodward Academy, Salem or North Clayton. West Laurens has a bye next week, before taking on Mary Persons on Oct. 21. A win over Spalding could ultimately make that matchup the path to the region title. Mary Persons has won 11 of its 13 all-time meetings against West Laurens, but a hot start and extra week to prepare for the Bulldogs would be a timely boost.
2. Region 7’s battle for playoff positioning begins
When it comes to a five-team region with four playoff spots, every game matters. Marist is off while the weekly serving of two Region 7 games that will take us into the postseason starts with Blessed Trinity at White County and West Hall at Chestatee. Blessed Trinity, Marist and West Hall each went 4-2 in non-region play, while Chestatee sits at 3-3. White County wears a 1-5 record, but don’t overlook the Warriors. Despite White County’s 1-5 record and 0-4 all-time record against Friday’s opponent Blessed Trinity, the Warriors do have a history of success that favors them for a playoff berth. White County has an 8-game winning streak over West Hall and a 7-game winning streak over Chestatee, which they will face in back-to-back weeks following a Week 8 bye. As for Chestatee and West Hall, the teams enter Friday’s matchup with an even 6-6 all-time series.
3. Stephens County at St. Pius
Stephens County and St. Pius meet for the first time in program history on Friday in what is sure to be a tense playoff-like atmosphere. The Golden Lions are winless at 0-5, but that was in non-region play and as frustrating as the season has been, a bye last Friday has St. Pius refreshed for an attempt at a restart. Stephens County has been dominant defensively in its last three games, holding Flowery Branch, Habersham Central and Hart County to a combined 20 points. This will be a great measuring stick for both the Indians’ dominant defense and the St. Pius struggling offense, which has been shutout twice and found the endzone just twice in its last four games.