While Tennessee begins its high school football postseason tonight, Georgia teams still have two regular-season games to play. As might be expected, much is yet to be decided in northwest Georgia's four regions.
Nowhere is the picture cloudier than in Region 6-A, where the public/private school split for the postseason is causing coaches sleepless nights. Trion coach Justin Brown spent a few hours Thursday in front of his blackboard, not working on schemes for tonight's big game against Christian Heritage but jotting down playoff scenarios for his Bulldogs.
"Well, if nothing else, it's exciting," said Brown, referring to the power-ranking system that will fill the 16-team private and public school brackets. "The scenarios I've worked through have us getting as high as No. 8 and hosting a first-round game or, if we go 0-2, being out. Basically, we just have to take care of our own business."
Nothing is clear-cut. As of now, Gordon Lee, which lost to Trion last week, is ranked higher than the Bulldogs. But the Trojans still need to win to improve their rating.
"They're in the same boat we are," Brown said. "Neither one of us can win the region, so now it's all about getting style points. If we both go 2-0 we're in, 1-1 and we're on the bubble, and 0-2 and we're out."
Scenarios in the other classes involving area teams are at least a little less fuzzy:
* Region 7-AAAA: Ridgeland has secured the top spot in its subregion and will host the championship game next week, likely against River Ridge, which needs a win tonight against Pickens County to win the other subregion.
Dalton has clinched one of the other three playoff play-in games from the B subregion, while Northwest Whitfield needs to defeat LaFayette to get the third spot. If Southeast Whitfield beats Dalton and LaFayette downs Northwest, Southeast is in and Northwest is out.
* Region 5-AAA: Cartersville will clinch the region championship with one win in its final two games, while Gordon Central can clinch the second spot with a win. From there it gets a little murky as three teams -- Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Ringgold and Adairsville -- remain alive for the other two playoff berths.
Each of the three controls its own destiny, but LFO is in the best shape having already defeated Adairsville. The Warriors, who host Ringgold tonight, can still get the No. 2 spot, and they will get in with a win either tonight or next week against one-win Sonoraville.
Ringgold has to win tonight or upset No. 5-ranked Cartersville next week and get help. The likelihood of a three-way tie is strong if Ringgold downs LFO and Adairsville falls to Gordon Central tonight. In that case, Ringgold would earn the No. 3 spot based on tiebreaker rules and LFO would get the No. 4 spot via its win over Adairsville.
* Region 7-AA: Top-ranked Calhoun can clinch its 12th consecutive region title with a win tonight against surprising Model, but from there it's anybody's guess.
In fact, two teams that started a combined 0-9 can still make the playoffs. While Pepperell and Model (each 4-1 in league play) appear to be in good shape with one more win, the fourth spot is up for grabs. The winner of tonight's Dade County/Chattooga game is still alive despite dreadful starts.
"If we win out and Armuchee beats Coosa, we could even move up to No. 3," Dade coach Bradley Warren said. "If we win out, from what I've seen, we're either in or we'll force a three-way tie, which would be settled with a mini playoff on Monday night. Chattooga is in the same boat. There's still a lot to play for."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...