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7A preview: Three winners Friday will be alone at the top of their region

Three games in Class AAAAAAA this week are for first place and match teams that are unbeaten in region play.

Those are Westlake-Newnan (R2), South Forsyth-North Forsyth (R5) and Brookwood-Parkview (R7). Westlake and South Forsyth are comfortably favored in their games, while Brookwood-Parkview is closer to a tossup.

Three other games match undefeated teams vs. one-loss teams in region play. Those are Colquitt County-Tift County (R1), North Paulding-McEachern (R3), Walton-Lassiter (R4).

Here is a region-by-region look at the key games in the high class this week. All mention of a point spreads is courtesy of the computer Maxwell Ratings.

Region 1 – Tift County (7-1, 0-1) plays at Colquitt County (7-1, 1-0) in the only game between Top 10 teams this week. It’s the first time these two have played as ranked teams since 1984, when Tift was a defending state champion. The Maxwell Ratings favor Colquitt by one point. It’s the game of the week in Class AAAAAAA. In the other R1 game, No. 1 Lowndes (8-0, 1-0) plays at Camden County (3-4, 0-1).

Region 2 – Westlake (4-3, 2-0) plays at Newnan (3-4, 2-0) in a game between the only teams without a loss in region play. Westlake, favored by 13 points, almost certainly will be the No. 1 seed with a win. Westlake is the defending champion and has victories over the next-closest contenders (East Coweta, Pebblebrook). Newnan has played neither so would have more hoeing to do under first-year coach Chip Walker. Newnan was 3-7 last season and missed the playoffs. Pebblebrook (3-4, 1-1) plays at East Coweta (5-2, 1-1), and Campbell (2-5, 0-2) plays at Wheeler (2-5, 0-1) in a must-win game for both.

Region 3 – North Paulding (6-1, 1-1) plays at McEachern (5-2, 2-0) in the region’s top game. McEachern has beaten North Paulding easily each of the past three seasons (the only times they’ve ever played). This one should be closer as North Paulding, which plays excellent defense, is confident that it has its best team since its region championship team of 2013. McEachern is only an eight-point favorite this time. North Cobb (4-3, 0-2) plays at Marietta (6-1, 2-0) in the other key game. Despite the teams’ disparate records, the game could go either way. Marietta is favored by five, per Maxwell. Marietta had a huge win last week over Hillgrove (4-3, 1-1). North Cobb spent three weeks ranked earlier this season (as high as No. 5 after beating Harrison) but needs to beat Marietta or Hillgrove next week to get in the playoffs. Hillgrove (4-3, 1-1) should win at home Friday against Kennesaw Mountain (4-3, 0-2).

Region 4 – Walton (7-0, 2-0) can take another step toward a region title with a victory at home against East Cobb neighbor Lassiter (5-2, 1-1). Walton is favored by 21, probably too much given the nature of this rivalry. But Walton, ranked No. 3, is clearly the team to beat. Also critical is Roswell (2-5, 1-1) at Etowah (3-4, 1-1). Roswell, the defending champion, will be in serious danger of missing the playoffs if it doesn’t pick up that win. Roswell is favored by 16. Woodstock (4-3, 1-1) should win at home against Cherokee (0-7, 0-2).

Region 5 – South Forsyth (6-1, 2-0) plays at North Forsyth (5-2, 2-0) for the region lead. Note that South Forsyth was forced to forfeit a non-region victory this week over the inadvertent use of an ineligible player. It’s only a cosmetic defect, however. South Forsyth is favored to win this one by 27 and should win the region title. The four playoff teams should be very clear after this week as Milton (5-2, 1-1) plays at Forsyth Central (0-7, 0-2), and West Forsyth (5-2, 1-1) plays at Lambert (2-5, 0-2).

Region 6 – The most interesting game is Mill Creek (6-2, 3-1) at Mountain View (6-2, 2-2). The teams are probably closer than season than last, when Mill Creek won 35-23, although Maxwell doesn’t agree. The computer favors Mill Creek by 19. Mountain View needs to win or settle for the No. 4 seed. Mill Creek needs the win to lock up the No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff game at home. North Gwinnett is the likely No. 1 seed, and Collins Hill is the likely No. 3.

Region 7 – Brookwood (5-2, 3-0) plays at Parkview (5-2, 3-0) for the region lead. This is probably the biggest Brookwood-Parkview game since 2005, which is the last time these teams finished 1-2 in their region. In other words, this is the first game between them since 2005 that will decide the champion head-to-head, assuming both can win out from here. Brookwood is an eight-point favorite. Also interesting will be Meadowcreek (6-1, 2-1) at Central Gwinnett (5-3, 2-2). Meadowcreek is chasing its first playoff berth since 1988 but still faces long odds despite the remarkable improvement the program has made. Central is favored by 23.

Region 8 – Grayson (6-1, 1-1) plays at Newton (5-2, 1-1) and is favored by 16. But note that Archer beat Grayson 6-3 last week, and Archer beat Newton only 20-19. South Gwinnett (2-5, 1-1) plays at Shiloh (1-6, 1-1) in a game that probably will determine the final playoff berth in this region.


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