Forsyth Central at Lambert
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m. at The Horn.
Records, rankings: Central is 6-3 and unranked in Class 7A; Lambert is 3-6 and unranked in Class 7A.
Series history: Lambert leads the series, 4-0.
Last meeting: Lambert won 34-19 in 2017.
What to know: This final week of region play is like last year’s in that the playoff race is effectively over. Last year, North, South, West and Milton had already clinched spots at this point, and the season-ending matchup between the Bulldogs and Longhorns was solely for pride. There’s much more riding on it this year for Central, though, which locked up a trip to the postseason with its thrilling win at home over South last Friday.
Strangely enough, the Bulldogs can’t really control their own destiny here: A win would give them their best shot at the No. 3 seed, but they would also need South to lose to West or beat the Wolverines by fewer than nine points. If Central wins and the War Eagles beat West by nine points or more, South would take the No. 2 seed by virtue of the three-way tiebreaker and West would get the No. 3 over Central due to its head-to-head advantage. A loss to Lambert could also give the Bulldogs a chance at the No. 3, but only if South loses, too. So while a victory over the Longhorns would certainly be celebrated as another milestone in a season full of them, the Bulldogs will have to look to the night’s other inter-county matchup to find out their postseason fate.
West Forsyth at South Forsyth
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m. at War Eagle Stadium in Cumming.
Records, rankings: West is 4-5 and unranked in Class 7A; South is 5-4 and unranked in Class 7A.
Series history: West leads the series, 4-2.
Last meeting: South won 28-14 in 2017.
What to know: This is Friday’s most consequential game, and not just for the two teams involved. If South (2-3 in region play) beats West (3-2 in region play) by nine or more points and Central beats Lambert by any margin, the War Eagles would win the point differential-based tiebreaker of the subsequent three-way tie, get the No. 2 playoff seed, and bump Central down to the No. 4. Even if the War Eagles don’t win by enough and still lose out in seeding to West, the Bulldogs would be bumped into the No. 4 and subjected to a brutal first-round matchup against Grayson. If the Wolverines win, though, none of that happens, and Central gets the No. 3 even if the Bulldogs lose to Lambert. That seems to be the most likely outcome, judging by the Wolverines’ and War Eagles’ recent runs of form, and it would also be the least headache-inducing.
North Forsyth vs. Milton
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Raider Valley.
Records, rankings: North is 3-6 and unranked in Class 7A; Milton is 7-2 and ranked No. 10 in Class 7A.
Series history: Milton leads the series, 3-1.
Last meeting: Milton won 49-17 in 2017.
What to know: The most celebrated consequence of Central’s win over South last week was that it put the Bulldogs in the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and just a year after they went 0-10, no less. But it also officially doomed North’s playoff chances. The Raiders would have technically still been in the race with a Bulldogs loss, but their destiny would come down to the result of the Central/Lambert game, even if North were to spring an upset win over Milton. As it stands, then, North is done after Friday, and they still need to play the Eagles, who have scored 163 points and allowed just 31 against region opponents. It won’t be easy.
Denmark at Flowery Branch
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m. in Flowery Branch.
Records, rankings: Denmark is 5-4 and unranked in Class 4A; Flowery Branch is 7-2 and ranked No. 9 in Class 4A.
Series history: This is the teams’ first-ever meeting.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first-ever meeting.
What to know: The ideal scenario for the Danes here would just be to win: If they do that, they’re in the playoffs. But given that Flowery Branch has consistently been ranked as a top-10 team in the state this year and took powerhouse Blessed Trinity to overtime, that looks like a distant possibility. Another welcome outcome would be for Chestatee to beat West Hall, which would put the Danes in by virtue of their win over White County. That also looks unlikely, as West Hall can score and Chestatee’s defense is truly a desperate unit, averaging 55 points per game. But that’s what the Danes will have to count on, as the region’s three-way tiebreaker rules would leave them out of the playoff picture.
Pinecrest Academy at Trion
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m. in Trion
Records, rankings: Pinecrest 4-5 and unranked in Class 1A; Trion is 6-3 and unranked in Class 1A.
Series history: Trion leads the series, 3-1.
Last meeting: Pinecrest won 27-24 in 2015.
What to know: Pinecrest is in a tough spot right now, in terms of its postseason hopes. The Paladins’ loss to Mount Paran last week was a close one, but it still dropped them to 25th in the Class 1A-Private power rankings, a spot away from making the playoffs. And this week’s game, Pinecrest’s last chance to win and boost their ranking, is against a very solid Trion team. This matchup is tough to judge, as the Paladins and Bulldogs don’t share any common opponents, but Trion’s three losses have come against 7-2 Darlington, 8-1 Mt. Zion and 8-1 North Cobb Christian.