The top 10 in Class AAAA has been more consistent than any of the other seven classifications, however, that doesn’t give any indication to the parity and surprising storylines we’ve seen unfold throughout the first nine weeks of the season. Here are my top 3 most surprising storylines entering week 10.
1. Organized Chaos or pure madness: When looking at the Region 1 standings entering Week 10, there’s really no better way to describe it. Cairo heads the eight-team region at 4-0, while Shaw occupies the basement at 0-4. Six teams (Hardaway, Northside-Columbus, Westover, Americus-Sumter, Carver-Columbus and Columbus) are all locked at 2-2 with just three weeks left. Cairo has beaten Hardaway, Shaw, Americus-Sumter and Carver-Columbus, while Westover, Columbus and Northside-Columbus have lost two region games without playing the red-hot Syrupmakers. Each week seems to get crazier in this region and Friday night will no doubt make the playoff race even more interesting.
2. Title contending Thomson: Defending champion Cartersville and Woodward Academy were consensus favorites entering the season, but Thomson has proved to be amongst the top tier of Class AAAA with a dominant 7-0 start. The Bulldogs have pounded the football for a 306.7 rushing yards per game average, while senior Michael Thomas continues an all-state pace. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound back has already surpassed his rushing total from last season (820 yards) with 938 yards through seven games. He has run in 11 of the team’s 28 rushing touchdowns while averaging an incredible 8.8 yards per carry. But don’t just think it is Thomas able to do all the work. As a team, the Bulldogs are averaging 9.2 rushing yards per game this season. Sophomore Bubba Murray has been a spark to the backfield as well, taking his 44 carries for 397 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
3. The good, the bad & the just plain ugly: There are five winless teams in Class AAAA entering Week 10 and three of them were playoff teams just a year ago. Central-Carroll has compiled 30 wins over the past three seasons, but sits at 0-8 entering its bye with Troup and Sandy Creek still to come. North Oconee (0-7) snuck into the playoffs with a 5-5 record last season, and winless St. Pius (0-7) are coming off a 10-3 quarterfinal run. As disappointing as the season has been for both North Oconee and St. Pius, they both still control their playoff destiny. In the six-team Region 8 race, three teams sit at 2-0, while North Oconee and St. Pius join Madison County at 0-2. At least one of those 0-2 teams is going to make the postseason and St. Pius or North Oconee could even mathematically do it with a 2-8 record if both teams beat Madison County and go winless the rest of the way. An even crazier scenario would be if Madison County, and a one-win St. Pius team and a one-win North Oconee team find themselves in a three-way tie.