Area Duals get under way Friday around the state and five northeast Georgia area schools will be hosting the two-day events in their respective classifications.
Habersham Central in Region 8-6A, Johnson in Region 8-5A, West Hall in Region 7-4A, Jackson County in Area 6-3A, and Towns County in Area 6-A all will play host as the top two teams in each Region or Area Dual will advance to next week’s State Duals in Macon.
Three area programs will be looking to defend state titles as they enter the Area Duals -- Buford in Class 5A, North Hall in Class 3A, and Commerce in Class A. Jefferson, the defending Class 4A state champion, moved back down to Class 3A this season setting up a potential showdown with the Trojans.
Habersham Central in Region 8-6A advanced to the state bracket in 2017 and is hoping the home mat will be advantageous. Dacula and Lanier also will be expected to challenge for spots.
Buford should be a prohibitive favorite to not only win Region 8-5A but also repeat as state champion but Clarke Central should be a strong challenger in the Region Duals.
In Region 7-4A, Marist and Blessed Trinity earned the two spots in 2018 but look for Chestatee to make a bid for a spot in state this time around.
Class 3A is where the action will be for most area teams, which are split between Areas 5 and 6. Area 5 has Dawson County, Fannin County, Greater Atlanta Christian, Lovett, Lumpkin County, defending state champion North Hall, Pace Academy, and Westminster.
The Trojans should be a strong favorite to repeat as Area champs. North Hall has been one of the more dominant teams in the state so far knocking off four state champions in a variety of duals and traditional tournaments, including beating Jefferson earlier in the season. Look for Dawson County, Lumpkin County, GAC, and Westminster to battle for a spot as well.
Area 6 houses Jefferson, which has won 17 straight State Duals titles, as well as Jackson County, which advanced to the State Duals in 2018. Cherokee Bluff, East Hall, East Jackson, Franklin County, Hart County, Monroe Area, and Morgan County also are in Area 6.
East Hall, Hart County, Morgan County, and East Jackson will give Area 6-3A an abundance of depth and each should challenge for one of the top two spots.
In Area 6-2A, which will be held at Monticello, four-time defending state champion Social Circle is expected to repeat but look for Elbert County and 2013 Class 3A state champion Banks County to challenge for a spot as well.
Area 6-A has five-time defending state champion Commerce and the Tigers should be a prohibitive favorite to advance to the State Duals. Athens Academy, Athen Christian, George Walton, Greene County, Riverside Military Academy, Towns County, and Washington-Wilkes all will be challenging for a spot.