This week, Region 1-AAAA will take the spotlight as it is the classification’s first region to open up its conference play. These eight teams provided weekly twists in last year’s playoff picture with upsets and incredible finishes. Already, the storylines in 2017 look to be unfolding more unforeseen results.
In 2016, Cairo claimed the region crown and produced an 11-2 season with a perfect 7-0 region mark. Carver-Columbus grabbed a No. 2 seed after posting a 5-2 region record and Northside-Columbus’ 24-7 win over Americus-Sumter gave the Patriots their edge for the No. 3 seed even though both schools posted a 4-3 region record. Westover and Hardway were outside the bubble at 3-4, Columbus went 2-5 and Shaw ended up in the basement with a 1-9 season and 0-7 region record.
This season, things already look much different. Shaw, for example, joins Cairo, Hardaway, Americus-Sumter and Columbus as the region’s five teams that enter this week with 1-2 records. Even more notable is Carver-Columbus’ 0-3 start that includes a 28-18 loss to Class AA Spencer, a team they had defeated handily in each of their previous eight meetings.
Westover has looked solid with a 2-1 start and its 40-13 win over Dougherty last Friday night was the most points scored by the Patriots since 2012’s 8-4 squad posted a 41-32 win over the Trojans of Dougherty. Still, it has been the Patriots of Northside-Columbus that enter region play with the most to prove. Northside-Columbus is not only 3-0 for the first time since 2011, but this year’s Patriots have a chance to send Carver-Columbus to 0-4 while moving their record to 4-0 this Friday. A victory would be made even more historic because Northside-Columbus has lost all seven of its meetings with the rival Tigers.
Columbus and Shaw will open the week in a Thursday night clash and a loss for either team would make it that much tougher to gain enough ground against the favorites of Region 1. Americus-Sumter at Westover is another critical game and Hardaway should gauge what defending region champion Cairo is made of. Here is Region 1 the schedule.
Thursday, Sept. 14
Columbus vs. Shaw
Friday, Sept. 15
Northside-Columbus vs. Carver-Columbus (K)
Americus-Sumter at Westover
Hardaway at Cairo