This Friday night could really answer a lot of questions and should clear up a cloudy playoff picture for a couple of Columbia County's high school football teams.
There will be matchups of major importance between Harlem and Jefferson County, Greenbrier and Lakeside, and, Augusta Christian and Tattnall Square Academy.
First, at Harlem:
The Bulldogs are a legitimate contender for a Region 3-AAA title, but with Washington County and Westside remaining on the schedule, Harlem must finish strong to have a chance.
Friday's home-game with Jefferson County comes first, though. Jefferson County surprised some folks last week by beating Laney 34-12. Keep in mind that the Warriors lost to Richmond Academy 32-14 earlier this season, and Harlem soundly whipped the Musketeers last Friday.
The bottom line is this - if Harlem stops Jefferson's Gary Farmer (which I think the Dogs will do), the Warriors will have no chance.
While a region championship sounds good, the important thing is to finish either No. 1 or 2 in the final region standings, because the top two teams will be at home for the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs - that would be a real treat for Harlem's fans.
Panthers and Pack
Lakeside has a playoff-caliber team, and getting by Greenbrier in Friday's Region 3-AAAA battle at the Brierpatch could go a long way toward cementing a playoff spot for the Panthers.
It seems likely that Lakeside, Hephzibah and Burke County are in the running for the final two playoff slots in the region, but one of the three will be left out, because Statesboro and Thomson are locks.
If Lakeside beats Greenbrier, the Panthers would stand at 4-1 in the region. With Burke County (4-1 in the region) visiting Thomson this week, Lakeside could move into third place alone, one game behind Thomson and Statesboro.
That scenario all changes if an upset or two occurs. Burke is capable of pulling out a win at the Brickyard, and the Pack certainly will be up for the Panthers.
Test for Lions
This week will be the true measuring stick for the Augusta Christian Lions.
AC squares off with Tattnall Square Academy in a Region 2-AAA game at Pride Valley. The feature attraction will be two of the best offenses in the Georgia Independent School Association.
Tattnall's Justin Massey is coming off a monster performance against George Walton. The junior fullback rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Also, tailback Sean Miller and quarterback Tripp Smith give the Macon powerhouse a balanced attack.
The Trojans average about 330 yards of total offense and 34 points per game.
There are some great games to chose from, and some tough picks for a prognosticator. Here's my take:
Evans at Forest Park - These two teams are struggling in Region 4-AAAAA. Give the Knights the nod in a tight matchup. Evans 24, Forest Park 16.
Lakeside at Greenbrier - The Pack is still alive in the playoff race, at least mathematically, while a Lakeside win positions the Panthers for a third straight trip to the state playoffs. Lakeside 17, Greenbrier 13.
Jefferson County at Harlem - The Warriors are coming off an upset over Laney, but that win was at home. Jefferson won't be as fortunate on the road, and Harlem is for real. Harlem 27, Jefferson County 14.
Tattnall Square at Augusta Christian - The Trojans were state runners-up in 2000, and AC has never beaten the GISA powerhouse. But there's always a first time, and the Lions are hot. Augusta Christian 28, Tattnall Square 27.
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