One day you’re ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state. The next, you’re tied for last place in your region.
That’s life in the state’s highest-rated region (1-AAAAAA), which has four of its five teams ranked in the top five in Class AAAAAA and opened region play Friday. Top-ranked Houston County was crushed by No. 3 Lee County 55-29 in a game that had a running clock in the fourth quarter. No. 2 Northside-Warner Robins came up short in a 14-6 loss to No. 5 Valdosta.
Houston County (6-1, 0-1) turned an early 15-0 deficit into a 22-15 lead, but the Trojans (6-0, 1-0) scored the next 40 points to seize control. Lee County did it by making life miserable for state passing leader Jake Fromm, who was intercepted four times and lost two fumbles, according to the Albany Herald. On one play, AJC Super 11 selection Aubrey Solomon sacked Fromm, forcing a fumble which he recovered and returned 20 yards for a touchdown.
Northside (6-1, 0-1) outgained Valdosta 340-124, according to the Valdosta Daily Times, but never got into the end zone. Valdosta (6-1, 1-0) scored two first-half touchdowns, on a fumble recovery in the end zone and a 1-yard run by quarterback Hunter Holt. Northside got inside the Valdosta 5-yard line in the fourth quarter but missed a field goal.
Unranked Coffee (4-2, 0-0) gets into the act next weekend when it opens region play at home against Houston County. Lee County will travel to Northside, and Valdosta has the week off.
Here are some of the other big stories in Class AAAAA from Week 8:
– The top four teams in Region 7 have begun to pull away from the pack. Centennial, Johns Creek, Cambridge and Alpharetta have one loss each in region play, although Alpharetta has one fewer victory. The only other team with a realistic shot of grabbing a playoff spot is fifth-place Chattahoochee (2-3 in the region). The Cougars essentially would need to win the remainder of their games, including at home against Alpharetta in the finale, and hope that the Raiders lose one of their other three games.
– The top four teams in Region 5 also have created some separation from the rest. Alexander (4-0 in region), Mays (4-0), Hughes (4-1) and Northgate (4-1) won their games Friday by an average score of 52-7, the closest being Alexander’s 43-13 win over Tri-Cities. Fifth-place Creekside is 2-2 in the region, and its playoff fate will be determined in the next two weeks when it plays Mays and Alexander. A loss in either game will put the Seminoles in a bad spot; a loss in both games all but eliminates them.
– The only Class AAAAAA region that was affected by Hurricane Matthew was Region 2, where both scheduled games had to be postponed. No make-up date has been announced for Effingham County’s game at Glynn Academy, but it is likely to be played Monday or Tuesday. Brunswick’s game at Bradwell Institute will be made up on Oct. 24 (a Monday). That should make for an interesting eight days for Brunswick, which has also has games against Effingham County on Oct. 21 and Richmond Hill on Oct. 28.
– So much for non-region games. Greenbrier, which was 5-0 at the halfway point for only the second time in school history (first since 1997), opened region play Thursday with a 7-0 loss to previously winless Lakeside-Evans in a game moved up a day to avoid problems with the weather. The computer Maxwell Ratings had listed Greenbrier as a six-point favorite. Maxwell also had Greenbrier as the region’s fourth-best team and Lakeside as missing the playoffs, so this will be a difficult loss for the Wolfpack to overcome.