Alright, Harris County. You have my attention.
Four straight losses to open the season, and now, all of the sudden, you’re 4-4 and control your own destiny in Region 1-AAAAA?
When did this happen?
Perhaps it was in the third overtime of a 37-31 win over Douglas County on Sept. 28. Wins like that can often turn seasons in the complete opposite direction.
Or maybe it was the following week, when the Tigers beat Bainbridge, a solid team, 21-17. Or maybe it’s just now coming to a head after Friday’s impressive 35-31 win over Lee County, which was on the cusp of a top-10 ranking in Class AAAAA in the Associated Press poll.
Whatever the case, Harris County went from a season of no hope to one with plenty of opportunities.
The Tigers face Hardaway on Friday at Kinnett Stadium. A win there would set up a final-week showdown for the region title when Harris County travels to Thomas County Central, one of the top teams in Class AAAAA.
It’s still a stretch to consider the possibility of the Tigers pulling the upset in that final week, but it was a stretch to consider them playoff contenders when they were 0-4, too.
Harris County has already proven it has a lot of fight left. Who’s to say it can’t finish off this incredible turnaround?
Central, Brookstone win big region games
Central is in the playoffs, and Brookstone has the inside track at a region title.
That’s all you really need to know from the two teams’ big showdowns last Friday.
Central’s close win over Smiths Station kept the Panthers on the outside looking in, though it should be noted that this season has been a great success for them.
As coach Mark Rose said before the game, the Panthers were playing for a chance at the playoffs in their final region game. You can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.
For Brookstone, two more wins will clinch the top spot in Region 4-A. It has games against Central-Talbotton and Greenville. After being somewhat slow to the table on offense to begin the season, the Cougars have turned things around on that side of the ball and scored 146 points in the last four games.
Glenwood won in a final tune-up for the playoffs last Friday. It will play in the first round of the AISA state playoffs on Friday as a 3-seed on the road against Fort Dale Academy.Tip of the cap to Spencer, which rallied against Chattahoochee County and scored a game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left on the clock.Shaw took a step toward the state playoff with a region win over Columbus, but it still has its work cut out for it. Shaw has a game against Fayette County and a potential win-and-in matchup with Troup in the final week of the season. A win in both would put Shaw in the playoffs and clinch its first winning season since 2007.Carver did what it was expected to do in its matchup with Central-Macon, winning 46-14. That game was just a final tune-up for the Region 2-AAA main event between the Tigers and Peach County this Friday. The winner of that game will clinch the region title.Despite its loss to Manchester, Kendrick can clinch its first playoff appearance since 1999 with wins over Jordan and Spencer in its final two games of the season. Spencer can do the same, which would be its first time since 1993. It’s path will be harder, however, as it travels to Heard County (8-0) on Friday.
Making the grade
Some notable performances from teams and individuals this week.
--Duncan Newton, Calvary Christian: Totaled 337 yards (282 rushing) and four touchdowns in a win over Creekside Christian.
--Dylan Denny, Isaiah Bettis, Chris Wooten, Glenwood: Denny rushed 13 times for 220 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Crenshaw. Bettis had four carries for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Wooten had 15 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown.
--Chandler Whittlesey, Shaw: Completed 16 of 29 passes for 289 yards and two touchdown passes in just three quarters of play.
--Damarkus Robins, Spencer: Carried 17 times for 87 yards. He also scored on an 84-yard kickoff return and ran in the game-winning touchdown.
--Esaias Chapman, Harris County: Carried 33 times for 274 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Lee County. He also had two catches for 39 yards. Finished a very close second for this week’s selection for player of the week.
Think someone else belongs on this exclusive list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @leprepsports.
Here's a look at the area's power rankings. I'll list my top 5 each week. Spirited, but civil, debate is encouraged in the comments.
Carver is playing well right now, but all that really matters this week is what it does against the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Peach County. That game will determine the Region 2-AAA champion.
It’s been an interesting season for the Red Devils. A single play is the difference between the top seed in the region and No. 4. The important thing, though, is that they are officially in the playoffs. And they may be one of the most dangerous 4-seeds in the entire state.
The Cougars picked up a big win over Marion County and now have the inside track at a region championship. The team has developed a formidable offensive attack led by running back Madison McCluskey, who seems to put up huge numbers every week.
The Gators will start the playoffs this week as a 3-seed. It’s not the best place to be, but it’s a good place, nonetheless.
Shaw is another team that has had an interesting, up-and-down season. Despite everything, though, the Raiders can get into the playoffs with wins in their final two games against Fayette County and Troup. Those are both winnable games.
T-5. Harris County
Harris County has won four straight games and has a great shot at a 1- or 2-seed in Region 1-AAAAA. It is undefeated in the region and has games against Hardaway and Thomas County Central. The latter game could determine the region championship.
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