We talk so much about rankings, records, stats, etc., but none of that matters until you hit region play. While Stephens County was 17-1 and #2 in the state, it quickly found out that 8-AAAA was tougher than anything it had seen prior.
Same can be said for Habersham Central, who two years in a row has fared well in wins and losses until running into the extremely tough region competition. Dawson County played a bit of a tougher non-region slate, leading to a worse record prior to region that is misleading as to how good that team is.
Let’s look at the playoff bound teams, who are all facing immense pressure beginning tonight to chalk up a win or two in these final few games. (ALPHA order)
*NOTE: Class 1A teams Commerce and Tallulah Falls have a shot, but it’s all dependent on their 1A Power Ratings. Towns County and Union County are mathematically eliminated, as is Lumpkin County (but we show their situation anyway below).
Banks Co Leopards
RECORD: 12-12 (6-4 Region 8-AA)
GAMES LEFT: 5 (2 REGION)
Banks County is in a position where a win equals “they’re in” when playing two against Oglethorpe.
BEST CASE: The Leopards take two against Oglethorpe, and someone above them struggles, giving Banks an outside shot at a #2 seed as opposed to #4.
WORST CASE: Banks County slips against Oglethorpe twice, pushing them both to 6-6 in region play with Oglethorpe taking the playoff spot with the head-to-head win.
REGARDLESS: Banks can take care of business with a Friday night win. That would secure a state playoff spot, but they’d still like to win the next to put pressure on the teams above them in an attempt to get a better seeding.
PREDICTION: The Leopards win the first against Oglethorpe, putting an end to the drama. However, the teams above them won’t be beaten twice, meaning Banks County still winds up the #4 seed even if they beat Oglethorpe in both games.
Dawson Co Tigers
RECORD: 10-14 (6-8 Region 7-AAA)
GAMES LEFT: 4
Dawson needs a win in the worst way Friday night against East Hall. This is an official do-or-die attitude they need to take into this matchup. The finale is a three-game set against the reigning Class 3A State Champions, North Hall – and two are on the road.
BEST CASE: The Tigers take the rubber match against East Hall (7-7 in region), making them both 7-8 in region. The problem with this scenario is that East Hall (sitting in fourth place in the region) still would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker of two games to one. Then we need East Hall to struggle mightily against bottom-dweller Union County (1-12), losing two of three to the Panthers. Meanwhile, the Tigers would need to play their best ball against one of the best teams in the state and Georgia Tech-signee Reese Olson (North Hall), taking the series.
WORST CASE: Dawson loses to East Hall Friday night, essentially giving them no shot of the playoffs. The only way back after that is for last-place Union to sweep East Hall in three games, and Dawson sweep state powerhouse North Hall in three.
REGARDLESS: Friday night is EVERYTHING to Dawson County. Even with a win, they will need some help from Union County next week and will have to get up for the North Hall series to fight for a playoff spot.
PREDICTION: The Tigers make it interesting with a win over East Hall Friday. However, the Vikings take care of Union in their series next week, while the Trojans of North Hall take two out of three against Dawson County. Trust us, we would love to be wrong and WANT our Tigers to win!!
Habersham Central Raiders
RECORD: 11-11 (3-8 Region 8-AAAAAA)
GAMES LEFT: 4
This is it for Habersham. Game three on Friday against Lanier (7-4) will decide who wins the series, which has been a split so far. The Raiders finish off with a three-game set with Dacula.
BEST CASE: Habersham takes the series win over Lanier, moving them to 4-8 entering the final series with Dacula (4th place at 4-7). Gainesville beats Dacula Friday night as well, making both the Raiders and Dacula 4-8 going into the final series.
WORST CASE: Habersham loses to Lanier to go to 3-9 in region play, and Dacula edges Gainesville to improve to 5-7. Even then, if Habersham can sweep Dacula to close the year, the Raiders are in.
REGARDLESS: Friday night is huge. If the best case happens, that means whoever wins the final three-game series wins the fourth playoff spot.
PREDICTION: Habersham falls to Lanier on Friday in a narrow game, but Dacula loses to Gainesville also. That puts Hab at 3-9 and Dacula 4-8 going into the winner-take-all series. In that series, the Raiders power up one last time to win two games to just one for Dacula, leaving Habersham as the #4 seed in 8-AAAAAA with a 5-10 mark in region and Dacula a 5-10 mark, but the Raiders having the head-to-head tie-breaker.
Lumpkin Co Indians
RECORD: 10-13 (4-11 Region 7-AAA)
GAMES LEFT: 5 (3 REGION)
It’s impossible for these guys to make the playoffs, but that won’t stop them from trying to wreck it for someone else. Best case has to happen to tie for 4th, but they’d drop the head-to-head matchup for the tie-breaker.
BEST CASE: With three games left against GAC (2nd place, 10-4 in region), the Indians pull off an improbable sweep, improving to 7-11 in region play. East Hall (4th place) would then need to drop Friday’s game against Dawson and all three against last-place Union. That would put Lumpkin at 7-11 and East Hall at 7-11…even in this event, Lumpkin dropped two of three already to East Hall, so they won’t be able to leapfrog them. In this Best Case scenario, they could help Dawson County out, however, and spoil the playoffs for East Hall…not sure they’d be thrilled, as the Lumpkin/Dawson rivalry is rich.
WORST CASE: The Indians lose all three to GAC, which really doesn’t change their fate.
REGARDLESS: These guys fight no matter what. It’d be nice to have an extra few games left to give them a chance, but Lumpkin will play its heart out and leave it on the field.
PREDICTION: GAC is just too good to get swept. We think Lumpkin can sneak one in on them though, and finish 5-13 in region play.
Rabun Co Wildcats
RECORD: 8-12 (7-3 Region 8-AA)
GAMES LEFT: 6 (2 REGION)
No pressure here for Rabun other than going out and having fun. They have locked up a spot, because even if they drop their final two region games and slide to 7-5, Oglethorpe (currently 4-6) could only get as good as 6-6, still leaving Rabun as the #4 seed if all goes wrong.
BEST CASE: Rabun takes down Social Circle in the final two games, locking up the top spot in 8-AA.
WORST CASE: The Cats fall to Social Circle in both games, Banks wins a couple, and Rabun is forced to be the #4-seed out of the region.
REGARDLESS: The Wildcats are in the playoffs! They need to still play to win, but do so with a focus of having fun and tuning up for a playoff run.
PREDICTION: Rabun splits the final two with Social Circle, and finish as the #2 seed in region 8-AA, as Elbert edges out both Rabun and Social Circle. The Cats will score more runs than SC, thus winning the tie-break for the #2 seed.
Stephens Co Indians
RECORD: 19-7 (5-6 Region 8-AAAA)
GAMES LEFT: 4
Nothing is guaranteed, which is crazy for a team so talented. They have a Friday night game at North Oconee in which a win would be HUGE to put them at 6-6 in region play. The Indians close with St. Pius in a three-game set, two at home. We like their chances, especially if they get the Friday night win. Even if they don’t, St. Pius (also 5-6 in region play) has the tough task Friday of facing Jefferson (9-2 in region).
BEST CASE: Stephens beats North Oconee to move to 6-6 in region, and St. Pius loses to Jefferson to fall to 5-7.
WORST CASE: Stephens loses and St. Pius wins, giving the latter sole possession of the final playoff spot.
REGARDLESS: The final three-game set is what matters. It’s not a do-or-die for the Indians Friday night, but a win combined with a St. Pius loss would mean Stephens just needs to take two out of three in the St. Pius series. If worst-case happens, the Indians will need a clean sweep of St. Pius to close the season.
PREDICTION: The Indians edge North Oconee on Friday, while Jefferson beats St. Pius. Stephens County then takes advantage of the third-worst team in the region (St. Pius) in terms of runs allowed, and the stellar pitching of Dawson Sorrells and Davis Swenson quiets a good lineup. The Indians take the final series two games to one and notch a playoff spot.
White Co Warriors
RECORD: 7-15 (1-8 Region 7-AAAA)
GAMES LEFT: 4 (3 REGION)
Here are the benefits of being in a five-team region with the top four going to state – there’s always a chance. The Warriors have a three-game series to wrap up the regular season against Marist, beginning next week. The first is on the road, and the last two at home.
BEST CASE: The Warriors play their best ball yet, sweeping Marist (4-3 in region), who also struggles against West Hall in two games. If all that happens, Marist would be 4-8 and White County also 4-8, winning a tie-break with Marist on head-to-head record. Plus there’s Chestatee, who at 2-8 is barely ahead of White County. If they lose their final two against Blessed Trinity (undefeated in region), White County would then only need to win two of three against Marist to get a spot.
WORST CASE: The Warriors don’t even play Friday, but Chestatee finds a way to win one over BT and Marist beats West Hall. Then White County has no way in.
REGARDLESS: The Warriors’ destiny is not entirely in their hands. They need help from West Hall and Blessed Trinity for sure. They will then need to sweep or at least take two from Marist to have a shot.
PREDICTION: What a tough road to go, but we predict Chestatee loses both to BT, closing with a 2-10 mark in region, and while Marist gets a couple more wins, White County will take one in the series to also finish 2-10, a tie for 4th. However, with Chestatee winning two out of three in the head-to-head this season, White County would be on the outside looking in.