Teams once thought to be in charge of their championship hopes saw mixed results, while others with shaky results through the first half the season are putting themselves in position to contend for their respective region titles.
No better case for a switch can be made following the outcome of the North Cobb-McEachern game.
The second-ranked Indians were 5-0 in Region 4AAAAAA, while the eighth-ranked Warriors were 4-0. The winner would remain as the lone region unbeaten and have the inside track to the region championship at the end of the season.
After beating a ranked Hillgrove team the previous week, North Cobb answered the bell once again with a 28-26 triumph over McEachern, shaking up the region standings in the process.
“Any time you can compete with a program like McEachern’s, you know you’re heading in the right direction,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “They’ve won back-to-back region championships and have had a lot of success. They’re the team that all of the other teams in our region compare themselves to, so to get a win over them was big for us.
“We’ve improved every week and I’m excited about the effort our kids have given over the past couple of weeks. (Friday) night was one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of.”
Another change at the top occurred in Region 5AAAAAA.
Lassiter was a team with questions after slipping to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in region play. But the Trojans have since won back-to-back games over Walton and Milton — teams once ahead of them in the region standings — and received good news when Etowah lost to Cherokee to slip to 3-1 in the region.
With three games remaining on the schedule, including the regular season finale against Etowah, Lassiter has gone from a team with questions to a team in control of its region championship race.
“After the Woodstock (loss), the players really took a stock of where they were,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “If we were going to turn our season around, we would have to be better focused on what we’re doing on the field. I feel like that’s happening.
“We’re coaching the same way, but the credit goes to the kids for hanging in there and understanding why we’re playing better. They’re more focused and not turning the ball over.”
Like Lassiter, Pope also had its share of problems early in the season.
The Greyhounds were 1-4 entering play in Region 7AAAAA’s southern half. However, they’ve done well since region play began and are now 2-0 with two games left, and in control of making a possible region championship game appearance.
It could come down to Nov. 1, when Pope hosts the subregion’s other co-leader, Kell
“These last two wins have been extremely gratifying,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said of the Greyhounds’ victories over Osborne and Sprayberry. “We were off last week, and at the end of practice, I talked to the kids about what we wanted to accomplish and play for. It’s not about how you start, but how you finish.
“We’ve had our hands full these last two games and we can’t give up. The kids have responded. I don’t think we’ve played our best football yet.”
Allatoona played its best football early, with three shutout victories in four games. Then, the Buccaneers lost to South Paulding in overtime, which derailed their region championship hopes.
But South Paulding then fell to North Paulding, making the region race even murkier, with East Paulding also in the mix.
“We could be the region champion, or out of the playoffs all together depending on tiebreaks at the end of the season,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said. “Our region is a mess. Right now, there are five teams eligible for four playoff spots with three games left, and our final two are against North (Paulding) and East (Paulding).
In Region 6A (B), Mount Paran Christian (6-1, 3-0) will host Mount Pisgah Christian (7-0, 3-0) on Friday for the outright subregion lead.