Three Friday nights remain in the Georgia prep football regular season, and there is still a good bit to be decided in the five northwest Georgia area regions. Most of that, however, will have to wait until the final two weeks.
By far the biggest game on the slate tonight will take place in Jasper, where Region 6-AAAA heavyweights Pickens and Ridgeland will settle the region championship. Host Pickens, 8-0 (4-0 6-AAAA) for the first time in school history, and 2017 league champion Ridgeland (5-2, 3-0) are peaking at the right time, and both coaches expect a battle.
"It's going to be a special atmosphere," Pickens coach Chris Parker said. "We beat them the last time here, but they beat us pretty good last year at their place. Our players are well aware of how good they are."
Ridgeland has found its stride after losing its first two games, and first-year coach Cortney Braswell said a big part of it is eliminating mistakes and big plays defensively.
"They are very good," Braswell said of the Dragons. "Coach Parker and those guys have done a phenomenal job. Offensively we have to limit their big plays and not get out-leveraged. We have to work really hard to make sure we are aligned, play sound football and not give up explosive plays."
Braswell also wants his offense to rise to the challenge, something it hasn't always done this season.
"We have struggled against really good opponents offensively," he said, "so can we stay on the field long enough to stay in it? It's like the clash of two polar opposites, our flash and dash to their 3 yards and a cloud of dust. It should be one for the ages, to be sure, with all that's on the line."
The biggest games in Region 6-AAA tonight are upstart Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (5-2, 4-1) hosting Sonoraville in a must-win game for the visiting Phoenix, and Ringgold trying to stay alive with a visit to another surprising team, Haralson County (6-1, 4-1).
"Every game is do or die with us right now," said Ringgold coach Robert Akins. "I'm not ready for the season to end, but we've got a chore ahead of us and I think the kids can do it, too. Hopefully, this will be a peak week for us."
Wins by LFO and Haralson would all but settle the top four teams and set up consecutive weeks that region kingpin Calhoun (7-0, 5-0) will have to hold off the two contenders. North Murray (5-3, 4-2) is off tonight but could move all the way to the No. 2 spot with wins over LFO and Sonoraville to end the regular season.
In Region 7-AA, Rockmart (7-0, 4-0) has all but clinched the championship, having won games against Pepperell (4-3, 3-1) and Chattooga (5-2, 3-1). Those two likely will decide the runner-up spot in Lindale on Nov. 2.
In subregion 6A-A, Christian Heritage (5-2, 2-2) and Trion (5-3, 2-3) have all but clinched postseason berths due to power ratings that have them in the private and public school top 10s, respectively. Each, however, can improve its positioning with a strong finish.
Christian Heritage has a prime shot to do just that tonight when the Lions host North Cobb Christian (6-1, 3-1). Trion has the night off. The two subregions will face off in crossover games Nov. 2.
Chiefs celebrate 1993
Before tonight's home game in Stevenson, Alabama, North Jackson High will welcome back the 1993 football team to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of its state championship.
All former players and coaches are invited to attend and are asked to meet at the field house prior to the game. The group, along with family members, will then be escorted to the field to be recognized.
The 1993 Chiefs finished 14-1, losing only to a team in a larger classification, and defeated perennial power Daleville on the road to win the Class 4A state title that season.
Pro wrestling event
Cleveland High School will host WWE Hall of Famer Hacksaw Jim Dugan and other professional wrestlers at the Halloween Scream on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at Raider Arena.
General admission tickets are $10 and floor seats are $15. All proceeds go to the Higher Calling Wrestling Club as a fundraiser. Tickets can be purchased online at Clevelandwrestlingtv.com and will be available at "will call" on the night of the event.
Gentry nears 400th
Murphy (North Carolina) High School coach David Gentry will be going for his 400th career win next Friday at home against Swain County. The 72-year-old Gentry collected his 399th career win last Friday with a 49-7 decision over Hayesville.
Gentry has been the head coach at Murphy since 1983, winning seven state titles, most recently in 2016.