Houston County is in trouble.
The team that was ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA two weeks ago is in serious danger of missing the playoffs after losing to Lee County and Coffee in its first two Region 1 games. The Bears currently sit in last place in the five-team region, and only four will reach the postseason.
Making matters worse, the Bears’ final two games of the regular season are against No. 2 Northside-Warner Robins (Oct. 28) and No. 1 Valdosta (Nov. 4). Houston County has to win one of those games, and might need to win them both, to reach the playoffs.
Houston County remains the highest-scoring team in Class AAAAAA, averaging 42.3 points. But they are allowing 31 points per game overall and 48.5 in region games. The Bears will have to turn that around if they want their season to continue past the first weekend in November.
Barring a couple of upsets, Valdosta, Northside, Coffee and Lee County are likely to be the region’s playoff teams.
Here’s how the races are shaping up in the other Class AAAAAA regions heading into Week 10:
*Region 2: Hurricane Matthew put the region behind schedule, as only two region games have been played. Glynn Academy and Richmond Hill got the victories, so they have a leg up in a five-team region where one or two wins is enough to get you into the postseason. We’ll know more after this week, when Glynn Academy meets Richmond Hill and Brunswick plays Effingham County.
*Region 3: Evans, Heritage-Conyers and Lakeside-Evans are 2-0 in region play and likely will battle it out for the top three seeds over the next three weekends. The fourth spot probably will go to Grovetown or Greenbrier, which have two region losses each. Their game on Oct. 28 could determine that playoff berth. Alcovy is 0-3 in the region and all but out of the race.
*Region 4: Tucker (4-0 in the region), Lovejoy (4-1) and Stephenson (3-1) have all but wrapped up playoff berths. Tucker will win the region if it wins its last three games, but Stephenson could create a three-way tie for first if it beats the Tigers in the regular-season finale. Drew or Mt. Zion-Jonesboro probably takes the other spot. They are both 2-2, but Drew won their meeting 23-13 on Sept. 16.
*Region 5: Alexander (5-0), Mays (5-0), Northgate (4-1) and Hughes (4-2) are in good shape, and all can clinch playoff berths with victories this week. Douglas County (3-3) and Creekside (2-3) are still mathematically alive, but they’re going to need a lot of help, especially considering they already lost to Northgate and Hughes. Alexander and Mays play on Oct. 28, possibly for the region title.
*Region 6: Dalton and Harrison are 4-0 in region play, and they meet this week in Dalton in a game that probably decides the region championship. Allatoona (3-1) could earn a share of first place if Dalton wins this week and loses to Allatoona on Nov. 4. Sequoyah is 3-1 but faces a rough final three weeks. The Chiefs’ possible playoff berth could come down to the Sprayberry game in the finale.
*Region 7: Centennial, Johns Creek and Cambridge are 5-1 in region play and could be headed for a three-way tie for first place, considering that each went 1-1 against the others. Alpharetta (3-2) plays Cambridge this week, and Johns Creek will be rooting for the Raiders because they could knock Cambridge out of the tie, and Johns Creek holds the tiebreaker over Centennial.
*Region 8: Lanier (2-0) and Dacula (2-0) are tied for first place, and both can clinch playoff berths this week. The winner of Friday’s game between Winder-Barrow (1-1) and Gainesville (1-1) also will be in good shape. The loser of that game will be left to battle it out with Habersham Central (0-2) and Apalachee (0-2), which are long shots at this point.