Halloween turned into a nightmare for Columbia County's high school football teams.
Last Friday night was a scary holiday on the gridiron, where the local prep squads failed to post a single victory.
Greenbrier held its own against Thomson, but the Wolfpack was still stuck with a 27-21 defeat at the Brierpatch. In the three other games featuring Columbia County teams, the combined score was 103-3, with Augusta Christian, Evans and Lakeside all coming up on the losing end.
The Harlem Bulldogs were spared on Halloween night - the Dogs had a bye last week, and will return to action at 7:30 p.m. this Friday for a Region 3-AAA contest against Westside at ARC Stadium.
Greenbrier came up agonizingly short last week in its battle with Region 3-AAAA power Thomson, and now the Wolfpack jumps right back into another pressure-packed situation.
The Pack (7-2, 5-2 in region play) travels to play Region 3-AAAA foe Statesboro (5-2-1, 4-1) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Unless Greenbrier wins the regular-season finale on the road, the team might miss out on the Class AAAA state playoffs in 2003.
"The playoff race in our region is all up in the air right now," Pack coach Mickey Derrick said. "There are probably seven teams fighting for four spots."
The fight is decidedly unfair because of Region 3-AAAA's unbalanced schedule.
If Greenbrier wins at Statesboro this week, the Pack will finish with two region defeats. Butler, meanwhile, has dropped only one region game with two remaining (against Hephzibah and Jones County), but the Bulldogs did not have to play Thomson and Statesboro, which are probably the two strongest teams in Region 3-AAAA.
Baldwin has lost twice in region play, and still must face Thomson. Baldwin lost to Butler, but did not play Greenbrier this season.
The race for the top four spots in the region is far from decided, but the way things are shaping up, Greenbrier could get left out.
It is conceivable that the Pack could finish one game back of Butler, a team Greenbrier beat this season. That one-game difference might keep the Pack on the sideline this postseason, which would be a very bitter pill to swallow, considering Butler got a break by not facing Thomson and Statesboro.
"I wouldn't necessarily say it's unfair," Derrick said. "Butler just got to be the lucky ones. These are the cards we were dealt, and we just have to deal with it. Our kids certainly deserve to go to the playoffs, and hopefully we'll get there."
Of course, Butler could lose its final two region games, and Hephzibah could cap its region slate with a pair of victories. That would leave the Dogs and Rebels with three defeats apiece. Glenn Hills currently has three region losses, but the Spartans will be a decided underdog in the 2003 finale against Statesboro.
Assuming Thomson and Statesboro have playoff berths all but secured, that leaves Baldwin, Butler, Glenn Hills, Hephzibah and Greenbrier scrambling for the other two playoff slots.
There is a distinct possibility Baldwin, Butler, Hephzibah and Greenbrier could all finish with three region losses.
If that scenario plays out, a tiebreaker would be used to set the final two playoff entrants from Region 3-AAAA. The first tie-breaker is head-to-head, but that's out because the four teams did not all play one another.
That leads to the second tiebreaker - region wins of opponents that your team has defeated.
Derrick hopes the Pack will clear things up by taking care of business this week in Statesboro. Beating the Blue Devils should be enough to clinch a playoff berth for Greenbrier.
"We don't worry much about the other things, but we can control what happens this Friday night," Derrick said. "It's going to be a big challenge, but our kids are looking forward to it. We're playing with more enthusiasm and intensity than we ever have. We're hoping to go down to Statesboro and take care of business."
There are no complicated equations for the Lakeside and Evans football teams.
The Panthers are out of the playoff hunt in Region 3-AAAA. Lakeside lost its homecoming game 14-3 to Hephzibah last week, as the Panthers fell to 3-5 for the season.
Evans, meanwhile, suffered a 56-0 shellacking to Stephenson last week at Blanchard Stadium, but the Knights can still earn a trip to the Class AAAA state playoffs by posting wins in their final two games.
The Knights travel to Redan for a Region 7-AAAA contest this Friday at 7:30 p.m., then close with a home game against region opponent Douglass on Nov. 14.
Evans goes into this week's game with a 3-5 record (3-3 in Region 7-AAAA).
Any loss by the Knights at this point could dash their postseason prospects. Douglass knocked off region front-runner Southwest DeKalb last week, so Evans will have a tough time winning the season finale.
Lakeside, on the other hand, travels to play Cross Creek this Friday, and the Panthers will be have a good shot at snapping their five-game losing streak.
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