I still think the best week of the high school football season is that first week.
There’s just something about all of the excitement and hopes of that first ball game that has built up for nine months.
But I think the final week of regular season this year is a pretty close rival. At this point in the year, most things have been decided like playoff teams, region champions and winning records.
That’s not the case this week. There are a slew of story lines that make this week just as exciting with Week 1.
Here’s what I have.
• Peachtree Ridge at North Gwinnett
How big is this game? A North win and a Collins Hill loss and the Bulldogs are region champs. A North loss and they are the No. 4 seed in the region. Talk about a dramatic difference in the playoff seeding.
• Grayson at Brookwood
This game has decided the region champion in the past. Now it could decide who misses the playoffs. The winner get an automatic berth in the playoffs. The loser can still get in, but needs a South Gwinnett loss.
• South Gwinnett at Parkview
A South Gwinnett victory and the Comets are in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. But they’ll have to win on the road in Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe’s farewell game. It won’t be an easy task for the Comets.
• Lovett at GAC
GAC hasn’t won a region title since 2001. The Spartans can post an undefeated season and capture the region crown with a win over Lovett. They have won by an average of 41 points this season and are ranked No. 3 in the state. Lovett is ranked No. 2.
• Collins Hill at Mill Creek
Mill Creek is out of the playoffs, but the Hawks can still shake things up in the region by beating Collins Hill. The last two years the game has been decided by three points or less. Collins Hill has a lot on the line by being tied for first place in the region.
• Buford at North Hall
Buford was forced to forfeit a pair of games last season and couldn’t win the region title. The Wolves can win the Region 7-AAA championship this week by beating North Hall. Buford has won by an average of 46 points a game this year.
So there you have it. Six ball games with major implications. They will definitely be worth the price of admission. Which one are you going to this week?
Petition to get Mill Creek in playoffs
There’s not much time left, but there’s got to be some way to get Mill Creek in the playoffs. They are too good of a team to not be playing an 11th game. I’m thinking a petition to make them a playoff team from the weak Region 6-AAAAAA might work. Mill Creek deserves a shot in the playoff before any of 6-AAAAAA's four schools. Sadly, I don’t think the GHSA will allow it.
Going into the season, I thought Mill Creek was the second-best team in the region behind Norcross. Of course, the Hawks don’t have anyone to blame but themselves. They lost a one-point game to Peachtree Ridge and let a 22-point fourth quarter lead slip against North Gwinnett.
The quality of competition in Region 7 this year is unmatched. Another thing that hurt Mill Creek is not one of the ‘Big Five’ had a down year. Peachtree Ridge was that team last year, so the four playoff teams made sense. This season they were all really good, which meant one really good playoff-caliber team was left out.
A month ago, South Gwinnett looked like it was on it way to a losing season. The Comets dropped their third straight game and were 1-4. Since then they’ve turned things around. South has won three of its last four and is now a win away from making the state playoffs.
So what’s the difference? Maturity. South came into the year with only a handful of returning starters. They are playing a lot of young kids and it’s taken them time to grow up. Those players have matured and now they are on the cusp of making the playoffs when no one thought they would this year.