Heritage, Evans the teams to beat in Region 3 again this year

(Jason Getz / AJC)

A few weeks ago, it was mentioned here that Region 7 was perhaps the most wide-open region in Class AAAAAA.

If that’s the case, then Region 3 appears to be a very close second.

Greenbrier is 5-0, but that’s where it was last year at this point in the season before going 1-4 in region play and missing the playoffs. Lakeside-Evans is 0-5 against a brutal schedule but also was 0-5 last season before rebounding to earn a playoff berth.

Everybody else in Region 3 is either 3-2 or 3-3. That includes defending region champion Heritage-Conyers, runner-up Evans and third-place team Grovetown.

We continue our Tuesday series examining the playoff outlooks for every Class AAAAAA team as region play kicks off with a preview of Region 3.

Here’s a closer look at each of the teams, broken down by playoff likelihood, in alphabetical order within each group:

Safest bets

*Evans (3-2, 0-0): The Knights’ two losses weren’t bad ones – 35-23 against North Augusta, the No. 8-ranked team in South Carolina, and 49-48 in overtime against Washington County. They had little trouble in their other games, beating Laney, Glenn Hills and Baldwin by an average of 42.3 points. Third-year coach Lemuel Lackey appears to have Evans moving in the right direction.

*Grovetown (3-3, 1-0): The Warriors got the early lead in the region race with a 17-3 victory over Alcovy last week. They are hoping to build off last year’s playoff berth, which was the first in the history of a program that started in 2009. The non-region part of their schedule went about as expected, with the exception of a hard-to-explain 35-14 loss to North Oconee, a 1-5 team in Class AAAA.

*Heritage-Conyers (3-2, 0-0): The Patriots finished tied for first place with Evans last season but got the region title with their 42-23 victory over the Knights. The Patriots bring a two-game losing streak into their region opener on Friday, but their 3-2 record is a game better than it was at this point a year ago. The computer Maxwell Ratings project Heritage as the region winner again this year.

In the hunt

*Alcovy (3-3, 0-1): A couple of region victories might be enough to get the Tigers into the postseason for the first time since 2013, but that will be a tough task for a team that has just one region win since that playoff berth. Still, Alcovy was more competitive in a 17-3 region loss to Grovetown last week than a year ago, when it was outscored 163-21 in region play and lost to Grovetown 34-0.

*Greenbrier (5-0, 0-0): The Wolfpack was 5-0 heading into region play last year, but a 7-0 loss to Lakeside-Evans in the region opener began a four-game losing streak that kept it out of the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year. Greenbrier can draw hope from the fact that this year’s five victories have been more lopsided (a 31.2 average margin of victory, compared to 19.4 points a year ago).

*Lakeside-Evans (0-5, 0-0): The Panthers are averaging just 4.8 points per game, but that number as well as the team’s 0-5 record are probably misleading because the five teams they have played – North Augusta (S.C.), Jefferson County, Burke County, Richmond Hill and Bradwell Institute – are a combined 28-0 this season. Lakeside was 0-5 at this point last year, too, but finished in fourth place.

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Next week: Region 1-AAAAAA


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