North Cobb (7-1, 6-0), ranked No. 6 in the Georgia Sports Writers Association poll released Tuesday, is atop the region, while ninth-ranked McEachern (7-1, 5-1) and No. 10 Hillgrove (7-1, 5-1) are tied for second.
The remaining ranked teams are primarily from Gwinnett County or south of Atlanta. Colquitt County heads the list at No. 1, followed by Lovejoy and Camden County. Gwinnett powers Norcross and Collins Hill round out the top five, and North Gwinnett and Archer are No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.
North Cobb is currently in good shape to win just the fourth region title of the program’s 55-year history, having already beaten Hillgrove and McEachern. The Warriors, however, are expecting a test from their upcoming opponent, Marietta, which also has an opportunity to seal one of the four postseason spots out of the region.
“Any time you’re mentioned in the same sentence with Hillgrove and McEachern, you hope your kids realize that the hard work is paying off,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said.
McEachern was sitting at No. 2 in the polls prior to its 28-26 loss to North Cobb. The Indians fell five spots to No. 7 a week later, then dropped to No. 9 despite sitting idle last week.
McEachern coach Kyle Hockman went back to the basics with his players and used the week off to get ready for a tough stretch — Friday at Harrison and Hillgrove at home — to end the regular season.
“When you end up believing in the hype, you tend to forget why you’re there,” Hockman said. “It’s not a noticeable thing. In fact, you don’t notice it at all until you have a negative result.”
Hillgrove jumped back into the top 10 after not getting ranked last week. The Hawks overcame a four-point halftime deficit to beat Harrison 40-24 by holding the Hoyas scoreless in the second half.
In Class AAAAA, Kell stayed put at No. 3 behind Northside-Warner Robins and Tucker, and Allatoona was 10th for a second straight week.
Kell is currently going through its east Cobb portion of its 7AAAAA (B) schedule. The Longhorns (8-0, 3-0) will travel to Pope on Friday after beating Sprayberry 55-7 last week, in hopes of maintaining their undefeated record going into next week’s play-in game against the No. 4 team from the region’s northern half.
In the next two weeks, Allatoona (7-1, 7-1) will host two of Region 5AAAAA’s top teams — No. 9 North Paulding and East Paulding — to end the regular season.
In Class A, Mount Paran Christian dropped two spots to No. 10 after losing a 28-24 heartbreaker to the new No. 8, Mount Pisgah Christian.
The Eagles (6-2, 3-1) will attempt to bounce back from their disappointing Region 6A (B) loss — in which they led by 10 in the fourth quarter — with a trip Friday to Walker.