As Class AAA high school football teams head into region play this week, here are top programs that appear to be playing to form:
Region 1: No. 4 Crisp County is 3-0 and a near shoe-in for a region-title repeat but the Cougars do not have their first region game until Oct. 13 against Monroe. So things could change between now and then for Crisp. Monroe, 1-2, is the closest competitor, if you focus solely on its record. But the Cougars won 28-14 last season.
Region 2: Liberty County won Region 2 last year, but the Panthers are 1-2 with losses to Bradwell Institute and Jenkins. Liberty faces its first region test Oct. 6 against Tattnall County, which will give us a better idea of the top team. Tattnall County and Pierce are 1-1. Due to threat of weather, last week’s games, Pierce vs. Richmond Hill and Tattnall vs. Beach, were cancelled.
Region 3: No. 7 Jenkins and Windsor Forest are the only undefeated teams left in the region with 3-0 records, but Jenkins is the team to watch. The Warriors defeated Windsor Forest 55-28 last year to clinch the region. Jenkins’ victory secured its first region title in 50 years. Region 3 starts region play Friday. Jenkins will face Johnson-Savannah, and Windsor will play Beach.
Region 4: No. 2 Peach County should not have any trouble locking up Region 4 again this season. The Trojans are 2-1 with a loss against Warner Robins on a last-second field goal. Pike County, also 2-1, lost 45-7 to Peach County last season. Region 4 will open region play Sept. 22. Peach will face Westside-Macon in its region opener.
Region 5: Defending champion and No. 1 Cedar Grove should be considered a given for the Region-5 title, but we thought that last season. Last year, Westminster defeated Cedar Grove 42-21 Sept. 23 and finished undefeated to take Region 5. This season, however, the Wildcats are 0-3 but considering they had four regular-season losses in 2015 and won the championship, you can’t count them out. Region 5 kicks off this week with Cedar Grove hosting No. 9 Lovett and Westminster hosting Redan.
Region 6 North: Murray County is 2-1 and faces North Murray on Sept. 29 to open region play. Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, North Murray and Ringgold are all 1-2.. Last season, LFO handled this side of the region before falling to Calhoun 48-0.
Region 6 South: No. 6 Calhoun locked up Region 6 last year and should have little trouble this season. The Yellow Jackets are 2-1 with a victory against Douglass and a 24-0 shutout of rival Dalton. The Yellow Jackets open region play against Haralson County on Sept. 29. Bremen is 3-0 and will pose a threat to the Yellow Jackets repeat. Sonoraville, previously ranked in the top-10, fell out of the rankings this week but could also make a region title run.
Region 7: No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian should handle Region 7, but it will not be without challengers. The Spartans are 2-1 with a loss to Valor Christian, Colo. and begin region play against Union County on Sept. 22. No. 5 Dawson County is 3-0 and could provide a tough test for the Spartans. Dawson County opens region play against North Hall on Sept. 29. GAC won last year’s game against Dawson, 42-7.
Region 8: Morgan County, which won Region 8 last season, is 2-1 this year and open region play Sept. 29 vs. East Jackson. No. 10 Monroe Area is a strong contender for the region title this season. The Purple Hurricanes have victories against Loganville, Social Circle and Walnut Grove. Monroe Area begins region play vs. Jackson County on Sept. 29.