Among the 14 games, seven came down to the final few minutes — or even seconds — to decide the winner.
Most notable was McEachern’s 29-28 victory over Marietta in a Region 4AAAAAA game at Walter Cantrell Stadium. The Blue Devils led 14-0 at halftime, only to see the Indians pull to within one with 30 seconds left on the clock.
A 2-point conversion put McEachern ahead, and Marietta wasn’t able to drive downfield to attempt a potential game-winning field goal, giving the win to the Indians. The last time McEachern played Marietta to a one-point margin was in 1993, when the Indians won 14-13.
“All of this energy and excitement and perseverance was because it’s a region game,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said following the game. “It’s a step in the process. Guys get up to compete in region games, and teams want to get better and better each week to get a shot at the playoffs. The energy is enhanced for games like this.”
Week 4 was special for that reason as all 14 games had region implications in some way.
The Region 7AAAAA schedule consisted of crossover games between the two subregions, with the outcomes significant toward region seeding.
Kell came back to beat Creekview 33-29 on the road. The Longhorns faced fourth-and-12 from the Creekview 43-yard line as it trailed 29-26 midway through the fourth quarter. Kell managed to convert for first down, and then went on to score the go-ahead touchdown with 5:31 left in the game.
Creekview’s final drive left it with fourth down inside Kell’s 30 with 40 seconds on the clock, but Brendan Langley intercepted Hayden Hall’s desperation throw at the 2-yard line to preserve the Longhorns’ win.
Sprayberry held off Forsyth Central for a 31-28 victory. The Bulldogs failed to convert a 48-yard field goal on their final drive, giving the Yellow Jackets the road win.
Walker continued its undefeated start with a 21-14 victory in a Region 6A crossover game with Mount Zion-Carroll at Robertson Field. The Eagles failed to convert on fourth down during their final possession, allowing the Wolverines to get the victory.
“I think there are lots of reasons for these close games,” Kell coach Derek Cook said. “The younger kids have been getting in games, and that helps their development, and they’re playing better. Injuries may help even things out for one team over the other. Plus, beginning region schedules gets kids a little bit more excited for games than usual.
“There are a variety of different things that could contribute for each game, but they all have the same kind of results.”
Harrison also held on for a seven-point win with its 20-13 home victory over Region 4AAAAAA foe Pebblebrook. Drevon Jones caught the game-winning touchdown with 4:06 remaining, and he sealed the victory with an interception at 2½ minutes later, moving the Hoyas to 2-0 in region play for the first time since 2008.
Wheeler’s spotless start to the season was derailed by Etowah, which won the teams’ Region 5AAAAAA opener 31-27. The Eagles rallied in the final minute, using a 12-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds remaining to post the victory.
South Cobb also continued its series of down-to-the-wire finishes — its third in four games this year — as Carlos Saldana nailed a 27-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Eagles to a 42-39 win over Campbell in a Region 4AAAAAA home game. The Eagles took possession of the ball after recovering a Spartans fumble at the South Cobb 30-yard line with 37 seconds on the clock.
South Cobb coach Ed Koester believed the reason for the close games this week was due to several factors, including parity, preparation and the will to win.
“There is a great parity in a lot of these regions,” he said. “There are good coaches and good players and everybody is reaching their potential after preparing for 52 weeks.
“Over the summer and spring practices, the games and preparation from the previous year, and the work all year in the weight room, just has these kids ready for those moments. At this time of the year, especially when region play factors into it, kids feel they have a chance to make the playoffs and they play harder to win.”