Region 8-AAAAA football coaches have been paying much closer attention to the 7-AAAAA standings this year than usual. And vice versa.
With those two regions going head-to-head in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 14, the coaches have tracked the other region's standings to see possible playoff matchups. But going into Friday's games, not much has been settled.
It's particularly interesting in 7-AAAAA, where Peachtree Ridge hosts North Gwinnett for the region championship. It would be the first region title for either school, but also would be the Lions' first-ever win over North.
"For us seniors, it's the biggest game ever for us," Peachtree Ridge noseguard Chris Carroll said. "We want to win region. We've never done that in school history, so it's the biggest game so far."
Peachtree Ridge can't slip any worse than a No. 2 seed for the playoffs, so its home playoff game is guaranteed, win or lose. The same isn't true for the Lions' opponent.
A North loss and a Collins Hill victory over Norcross on Friday would drop the Bulldogs into a tie for second place with Collins Hill. In the event of that tie, a coin toss between North and Collins Hill would determine the No. 2 seed.
If Norcross wins Friday, it would earn the No. 3 seed and drop Collins Hill to No. 4 in Region 7-AAAAA, a spot that both would like to avoid since it means a matchup with unbeaten 8-AAAAA champion Grayson.
Grayson is the only team locked into a playoff seed in its region, while the remaining three teams hinge on the outcome of Friday's Brookwood-Parkview game. The victor of the Five Forks-Trickum rivalry earns the No. 2 seed and a home playoff game.
A loss drops Brookwood to the No. 3 spot, but a Parkview loss likely would send the Panthers back to a No. 4 seed if favored Dacula wins at Meadowcreek.
But for Brookwood and Parkview, the stakes are clear in a rivalry with plenty of tradition.
"You want to get that home (playoff) game," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "It's so much easier to be at home and have your home environment. Then you don't have to travel across the county and all that."
In Class AA, Friday's Buford-Greater Atlanta Christian game has playoff implications. While No. 1 Buford has locked up the 6-AA title, GAC could clinch a playoff spot with an upset win. The Spartans also could sneak into the playoffs if Westminster defeats Blessed Trinity on Friday.
Staff writer Brandon Brigman contributed to this story.