Which region is the strongest in Class AAAAA? That’s a subject that’s often discussed throughout the year and is most commonly answered by how many teams are remaining at the end of the first round of the playoffs. Generally speaking, the better regions will have more teams advance to the second round.
Because the classifications have been so watered down by repeated expansions, the fourth playoff qualifier is usually not competitive. That was true this year in AAAAA, as only one No. 4 team came really close to a win.
A look at the playoff survivors shows this:
- All 10 teams in the state rankings survived their first round.
- All No. 1 seeds won their first-round games by an average of 27.3 points.
- No region swept another in the first round, but three regions won three of their four playoff games.
Region 7: Continues to be the gold standard of regions for quality and depth. The three teams – who were really co-champions since they beat each other – all won easily. No. 4-ranked Rome (the top seed via tiebreaker) scored a 56-0 win over Miller County, the most lopsided victory on the opening night. No. 3 Carrollton had little trouble in a 48-20 win over Lithonia. No. 5 Kell had to go on the road to play an emotionally charged Southwest DeKalb club and won 31-22.
Region 8: No. 1-ranked Buford and No. 9-ranked Loganville won with ease. The surprise here was Clarke Central, which beat Carver on Saturday to win its first playoff game since 2011. Clarke Central, under first-year coach David Perno, appears to be well on its way to restoring the program. In the 35-32 win over Carver, the Gladiators got a 100-yard pick-six from Zay Brown and a 38-yard fumble recovery and return from Byron Spraggins. The offense kicked in with touchdown runs from Jonathan Sewell and NaDarrius Smith, as well as a 33-yard pass from Jack Mangel to Rico Arnold.
Region 4: This league may have more solid teams than any other in the state. No. 2 Stockbridge, No. 7 Woodland and Jones County, which spent three weeks in the rankings at the start of the season, all won with ease. Ola, the No. 4 seed from the region, proved to be a handful for Ware County before losing by a touchdown.
Region 3: The two top seeds survived — No. 10 Griffin and region champion Starr’s Mill. Griffin’s offensive juggernaut continued to roll. The Bears won 56-49 and have scored 506 points this year. They’ve scored more than 50 points in six games.
Region 2: Thomas County Central and Bainbridge survive and both could be dangerous teams. TCC has an outstanding running back and Bainbridge may have the best running back in the classification.
Region 6: Grady is the lone team standing and the Gray Knights are another team that scores a lot of points.
Region 2: Ware County has the legacy and the tradition that really helps this time of year. Plus the Gators are very tough and intimidating at home. The Gators played a difficult non-region schedule to offset a lightweight region schedule.
Region 5: Arabia Mountain is the only team standing here. The Rams are the only one of five first-time playoff participants who are still standing. It’s all about defense here and Arabia Mountain will get a huge test against Griffin and its record-setting quarterback Tylan Morton.