The 2022 regular season finale is upon us and everything has been settled for all but two Northeast Georgia-area teams coming into Friday night’s action.
Lumpkin County is the only area team in the Georgia High School Association still trying to determine its playoff fate. Lakeview Academy in the GIAA is also trying to maintain a playoff spot in its final game.
The Indians play host to West Hall in Dahlonega on Friday as one of four teams in Region 7-3A trying to secure one of the final three playoff spots. Lumpkin County (7-2, 4-2 Region 7-3A) is a heavy favorite over the reeling Spartans (1-8, 0-5 Region 7-3A), who have lost seven straight. A win for the Indians, and a Wesleyan loss to Pickens, would give them the No. 2 seed. However, a loss could knock them out of the playoffs
Lakeview Academy in the GIAA sits 10th in the power rankings (the top 10 teamsmake the playoffs) so a win over Loganville Christian would most likely keep them in the playoff race. A loss, however, could deal their playoff chances a severe blow depending on the rest of the GIAA outcomes this week.
PLAYOFF BOUND: As for the rest of the Northeast Georgia area teams covered by AccessWDUN and Friday Game Night, 10 other teams already have punched their playoff tickets.
Buford (Class 7A), Gainesville and North Forsyth in Class 6A, Jefferson (Class 5A), Dawson County (Class 3A), East Jackson and Union County in Class 2A, and Rabun County and Commerce in Class Class A Division 1 all have clinched playoff spots in the GHSA playoffs. Lanier Christian in GAPPS also has clinched a playoff spot.
Buford (Region 8-7A), Gainesville (Region 8-6A), Jefferson (Region 8-5A), Dawson County (Region 7-3A), and Rabun County (Region 8-A Division 1) all won their region titles last week and will enter the playoffs as No. 1 seeds.
PERFECT (REGULAR) SEASONS: Two area teams -- Buford and Gainesville -- have a chance tonight to complete what is usually a rare feat: a perfect regular season. (We're counting seasons where teams played 9 or more regular season games.)
The Wolves (9-0, 4-0 Region 8-7A) will go for their first undefeated regular season since 2014. The Red Elephants (9-0, 5-0 Region 8-6A) are looking for their first unbeaten regular season since 2009.
For Buford, it would be the 15th time in its history to complete a perfect regular season, all coming since 1995. That year marked the arrival of Dexter Wood from Marietta, who transformed the Wolves into what has been arguably the state’s most successful program since then.
For Gainesville, it would be the 10th unbeaten regular season. It would be the fifth time since 2002, which marked the beginning of the Bruce Miller era, who had four such teams. The Red Elephants’ first unbeaten regular season with at least 10 regular season games was in 1947.
PREDICTIONS BEFORE THE FACT(S): Before the season, AccessWDUN and Friday Game Night, with help from a dozen of our fellow media types, predicted the eight GHSA regions that house the over two dozen area teams we cover in our annual Kickoff magazine. There are still two teams left that could make the playoffs but even if things do not go well for Lumpkin County and Lakeview Academy, we did pretty well in our preseason prognostications.
We successfully picked six of the eight region champions. Not counting Region 8-A D1, which only has four teams, we also correctly picked 24 of the 28 playoff teams -- that’s 85.7 percent accuracy!
We missed on the order of finish in several regions (we can’t always be perfect!) but in half of the eight regions we picked the top two teams correctly and in three we got the top three finishers successfully.
As always, there are more than a few interesting lines this week involving Northeast Georgia area teams.
No way! Really?
Banks County (-2) vs. Providence Christian
Based on where the two teams are at the moment, it’s really surprising that the Leopards, even at home, are favored.
If this had been early in the year, we wouldn’t have batted an eye. The Leopards were rolling to a program-best start (4-0).
But now they have lost five straight and have given up the most points in Region 8-2A (209, 52.25 ppg). The Storm is averaging 26.75 ppg in region play and 32.5 ppg over their last 6 games.
Providence is used to offensive shootouts, which does not play well into the hands of the Leopards.
Shocking line of the week
Cherokee Christian (-23) vs. Lanier Christian
The people who run the Maxwell computer may want to look behind it to see if it has sprung a gasket. It also may need ANOTHER upgrade!
Just SHOCKING to say the least.
Lanier Christian leads GAPPS in scoring with 410 points (51.25 ppg) and only once -- in a game where they were missing several key players due to injury -- have they been held UNDER 42 points. They have only been held under 30 twice over their past 21 games.
It’s a classic matchup of a dynamic offense vs. a solid defense. Cherokee Christian has given up just 24 points (8.0 ppg) in GAPPS region play. Something will have to give.
Even if the Warriors can hold down the Lightning to half of their average they would have to score nearly 50. That is doubtful against a LCA defense that is giving up just 14.3 ppg and more than 21 just once this season.
Scattered, smothered...and will cover!
We had a stellar week last week going 4-1 in our COVER picks last week, moving us to 18-7 overall for the season. That puts back up to a 72% winning percentage.
As always, it was a challenge with several key games and several toss-up lines to match. However, once again we have braved taking one of the biggest lines of the week, this time involving Lumpkin County. The Indians showdown at home with West Hall is a huge one in Region 7-3A as four teams are battling for the final three playoff spots.
-- Lumpkin County (-43) vs. West Hall at The Burial Grounds: The Indians are sure to be seething after last week’s lackluster performance in the biggest game of the year (a 38-10 loss to rival Dawson County). That loss cost them a shot at their first-ever region title. But they can still finish second in the region with a win and a Wesleyan loss. A loss, however, could knock them out of the playoffs. It’s a huge mismatch on paper and look for the Indians to come out blazing in an effort to leave little doubt that they are playoff worthy. Also, Lumpkin County is still 6th in Class 3A in scoring (317, 35.2 ppg). West Hall is in the bottom seven in 3A in defense giving up 36.7 ppg. That’s enough for us to take the INDIANS TO COVER THE 43 POINTS!
-- North Forsyth (-25) at Apalachee: We’re 2-0 when taking the Raiders, like last week. We like to look good so we’ll stick with them this week as well. The Raiders still possess one of the better defenses in Class 6A and the Wildcats have scored the 3rd-fewest points in 6A (84, 9.3 ppg). It’s the perfect recipe to take a line that probably should be higher. RAIDERS TO COVER THE 25 POINTS!
-- Flowery Branch vs. Heritage, Conyers (+37): We have yet to win a game with either of these teams but something will have to give this week. Let’s hope we go in the right direction. Both teams have struggled but this is a battle to stay out of last place so both teams should pull out all the stops. This also seems to be a huge line given the fact that the Falcons have not scored more than 39 in any game this season. With that in mind, even if they match their season-high all the Patriots may need is a field goal. The Falcons should win but we will definitely take the 5 TDs-plus in points for the PATRIOTS TO COVER!
-- Walnut Grove vs. Chestatee (+21): After last week’s performance by Chestatee, Walnut Grove, which have a chance to clinch the No. 2 seed in Region 8-5A, better not look past the War Eagles. Chestatee knocked out East Forsyth last week and they could severely damage the Warriors playoff seeding with another upset win. Chestatee has averaged 30.6 ppg over its past 3 games behind So. QB Josh Kermode (2,099 yards, 15 TD), which puts him 2nd in Class 4A and 16th in the state overall. Walnut Grove has given up 21.7 ppg in region play. Based on those two stats, we’re going to take CHESTATEE TO COVER!
AREA TOP PERFORMERS: Rabun County’s Jaden Gibson, already the state’s all-time leading receiver in yards (4,750) and touchdown catches (54), has all but locked up the season receiving title.
The senior wide receiver now has 1,576 yards this season, more than 500 yards better than second place Cayden Lee of Kennesaw Mountain, who leads Class 7A with 1,101 yards. The Wildcats are off this week as they prepare for the Class A Division 1 playoffs.
Gibson’s teammate Keegan Stover leads the state in passing with 2,942 yards. Stover leads Tate Morris of McIntosh (2,693) by just 249 yards. Prince Avenue Christian’s Aaron Philo (2,643) is also close behind in third.
Union County’s Caiden Tanner was second in Class 2A with 1,922 yards before last night’s game with Fellowship Christian.
Commerce’s Jaiden Daniels dropped to 14th overall in the state in rushing with 1,465 yards after last week’s regular season finale with Rabun County.