AA in brief: Playoff picture taking shape

We are a little less than two weeks away from the start of the AA state playoffs. While the latest rankings were released on Sunday, what’s more important is the playoff seeding that is nearly complete. We won’t know exactly what the playoff matchups will be until after Friday’s games, but below is a breakdown of the playoff picture to date. The top four teams from each region make it to the state tournament, meaning there will be 32 teams hoping to realize the ultimate goal of reaching the Georgia Dome and winning a championship.

(All records posted below are region records.)

Region 1

Current standings: 1) Fitzgerald (4-0), Thomasville (4-0); 2) Berrien (2-2), Brooks County (2-2)

Outlook: The winner of this week’s Thomasville at Fitzgerald game wins the region, with the loser taking second place. Berrien plays at Brooks County to decide third place, with the loser taking fourth and the region’s final playoff spot.

Region 2

Current standings: 1) Benedictine (6-0); 2) Vidalia (5-1); 3) Toombs County (4-2); 4) Swainsboro (3-3)

Outlook: Benedictine and Vidalia have clinched first and second, respectively. Toombs County and Swainsboro play for third place. If Toombs County loses, it takes fourth place. If Swainsboro loses it could fall into a tie with Jeff Davis and/or Bryan County if either of those teams win. But it’s not worth exploring those tiebreaker situations at the moment since Jeff Davis plays Benedictine and Bryan County plays Vidalia. That almost certainly means losses for Jeff Davis and Bryan County, meaning the Swainsboro at Toombs County game will, in all likelihood, determine third and fourth place.

Region 3

Current standings: 1) Washington County (5-0); 2) Southwest (4-1); 3) Dodge County (4-2); 4) Dublin (3-2)

Outlook: The top four for Region 3 is already set, regardless of how Friday’s league games play out. This is your playoff seeding for the region.

Region 4

Current standings: 1) Jefferson County (6-0), Screven County (6-0); 2) Laney (4-2); 3) Josey (3-3); 4) Glen Hills (2-4), Butler (2-4)

Outlook: Screven County plays at Jefferson County, with the winner taking first and the loser taking second. The winner of the Josey at Laney game takes third place, and if Josey wins, Laney takes fourth place. But if Laney wins, Josey falls into a tie with the winner of the Glen Hills at Butler game. From there, if Butler wins, Josey takes fourth place. But if Glen Hills wins, it takes fourth place and Josey’s season ends.

Region 5

Current standings: 1) Callaway (4-0); 2) Spencer (3-1), Heard County (3-1); 3) Lamar County (1-3), Temple (1-3)

Outlook: Callaway has already clinched the region. Heard County plays at Spencer,with the winner taking second place and the loser taking third. Temple plays at Lamar County, with the winner taking fourth place and the final playoff spot.

Region 6

Current standings: 1) Hapeville (5-0); 2) K.I.P.P. (4-1); 3) Douglass (4-2); 4) Washington (2-3), B.E.S.T. (2-4)

Outlook: K.I.P.P. plays at Hapeville, with the winner taking the region championship. If Hapeville loses, it takes second place. If K.I.P.P. loses, Douglass takes second and K.I.P.P. drops to third. Washington has locked up fourth place, win or lose, since it owns the tiebreaker over B.E.S.T.

Region 7

Current standings: 1) Pepperell (6-0); 2) Chattooga (5-1), Rockmart (5-1); 3) Model (4-2)

Outlook: Chattooga plays at Pepperell, with the winner taking first place. If Chattooga wins, Pepperell takes second. If Pepperell wins, Chattooga drops to third behind Rockmart if Rockmart beats Model.

If Model beats Rockmart and Chattooga loses, Rockmart, Chattooga and Model will all be 5-2. In that scenario, the three-way tiebreaker for Region 7 is most wins over non-region opponents, Model Blue Devils coach Gordon Powers confirmed to the AJC. Model has the most non-region wins with three, so the Blue Devils would take the No. 2 seed. With Model taking the three-way tie, third and fourth place is between Rockmart and Chattooga and is decided by their head-to-head matchup, which Rockmart won. That means Rockmart takes third place and Chattooga takes fourth.

Region 8

Current standings: 1) Rabun County (5-0); 2) Banks County (4-1), Elbert County (4-1); 3) Monticello (3-2)

Outlook: Rabun County has already clinched the region. Banks County plays at Elbert County to determine second place, with the loser, in all likelihood, taking third place and Monticello taking fourth. However, if by some miracle Monticello beats Rabun County, it would be 4-2, along with the loser of the Banks County-Elbert County game. In that improbable event, Monticello would take third place in the event of an Elbert County loss, or remain in fourth place in the event of a Banks County loss.

  • For a look at the AA bracket, go here.
  • For a look at the latest Maxwell playoff projections, go here.
  • Next Tuesday, AA playoff predictions will be published to this blog space. The predictions are unique to the AA blog and separate from the Maxwell Projections.

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While the playoff picture takes precedence over the rankings, it’s still worth noting the polls. This week’s top 10 features two new teams with the exit of No. 6 Brooks County and No. 10 Heard County. In Week 11, Brooks County lost to Thomasville and while No. 10 Heard County beat Lamar County, it was a close game against an unimpressive team. It’s worth noting this is the second time this season that Heard County has been booted from the rankings despite a win.

New to this week’s rankings are two teams making their top 10 debuts: the Washington County Golden Hawks at No. 9 and the Thomasville Bulldogs at No. 10.

The Golden Hawks probably should have joined the rankings last week after Brooks County was blown out by Fitzgerald, but they’re in now. As noted above, they’re already the Region 3 champs and are on a six-game win streak heading into their finale against Dublin. They’re also coming off consecutive shutouts, beating Southwest 21-0 and Northeast 28-0. The only blemish on their record is a 38-0 loss to Burke County, AAAA’s No. 8-ranked team.

The Bulldogs enter the rankings largely because of their undefeated record in Region 1, which includes last week’s win over injury-plagued Brooks County. As noted in Saturday’s blog, if the Bulldogs pull off the improbable this week by beating No. 2 Fitzgerald and winning the region championship, it will be one of the biggest story lines of the year, regardless of classification. If that doesn’t happen, however, the Bulldogs will finish the regular season with four losses and, most likely, their stay in the polls will have been short-lived.

Aside from the final two spots, the remainder of the rankings remain the same.

Here’s a glimpse at the updated rankings, with the previous week’s rankings in parenthesis:

1. (1) Benedictine (8-0)
2. (2) Fitzgerald (7-1)
3. (3) Jefferson County (8-0)
4. (4) Callaway (8-0)
5. (5) Rabun County (7-0)
6. (6) Brooks County (6-2)
7. (7) Vidalia (6-2)
8. (8) Screven County (7-1)
9. (9) Pepperell (6-1)
10. (10) Heard County (6-2)
Out: No. 6 Brooks County (6-3), No. 10 Heard County (6-3)

In brief:

  • Callaway running back D.J. Atkins, Jefferson County quarterbacks Jaden Jenkins and Chardell Hales, Model quarterback/linebacker Kyler Eldridge, Rockmart defensive end Quincy Allen, South Atlanta quarterback Jalen Thompson and Thomasville receiver/defensive back Charlie Thomas all earned Top Performances honors from GHSF Daily, while Dodge County earned “Lines of distinction” honors.
  • Check out the season stats for AA according to MaxPreps.
  • During Fitzgerald’s win on Friday, Purple Hurricane running back and AJC Super 11 selection JD King surpassed 5,000 rushing yards for his career.
  • Check out highlights of Fitzgerald’s win over Early County.
  • WSAV recently ran a segment on Benedictine and “The Process.”
  • Spencer’s Jaharee Mons was recently profiled by WTVM.
  • Here’s some vintage highlights from what is believed to be the first-ever matchup between Pepperell and Armuchee, which took place in 1964.
  • Here are highlights from this year’s Armuchee-Pepperell game.
  • The K.I.P.P. Warriors will play for the Region 6 championship this week and they’re tired of being counted out. They’re enjoying their first winning season in program history, which dates back to 2013.
  • Here’s Callaway coach Pete Wiggins being honored on Friday following his 100th career victory.
  • Pepperell is gunning for a Region 7 championship, but on Friday they won the unofficial Floyd County championship by beating Armuchee last week.
  • From Toombs Now’s coverage of Vidalia at Toombs County: the Locker Room Show, Sights and Sounds and game highlights.
  • The Region 6 title game, K.I.P.P. at Hapeville, is up for WSB-TV Sport Zone’s Game of the Week. You can vote by retweeting this tweet.
  • Here’s a story about Berrien clinching playoff spot from the Valdosta Daily Times.
  • Two AA schools, Benedictine and Fitzgerald, cracked the MaxPreps small school national football rankings. It features 25 teams and Benedictine is No. 8 and Fitzgerald is No. 13.
  • Some members of the Fitzgerald football team were on enemy turf recently, standing on the field where Benedictine plays its home games. They were visiting Savannah State.

Follow the AJC’s Class AA coverage on Twitter.

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