Pope

Joe Stellmach and Pope will try to beat region champion Allatoona on Friday and qualify for the playoffs.

Game: Allatoona (8-0, 7-0) at Pope (4-3, 4-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

All-time series: First meeting

Prediction: Allatoona 21, Pope 10

Pope has a 4-1 Region 6AAAAAA mark going into the final week of the regular season, but securing a playoff berth may not be as easy as the record indicates.

Missing two straight weeks due to coronavirus concerns and not having region games against Kell and Kennesaw Mountain may end up costing the Greyhounds.

Coach Tab Griffin said Pope could qualify for the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs as the region’s No. 3 team if the Greyhounds can upset Allatoona at home Friday.

The Buccaneers, ranked No. 4 in the classification, has already clinched the region and is one game away from having a perfect regular season. Allatoona also has one of the best defenses in the state.

Should the Greyhounds not beat Allatoona, they could still qualify if they lose by two points or less, Griffin said. If they were to lose by a field goal or more, they would be eliminated.

That would leave Kennesaw Mountain with a chance to qualify for the postseason for the first time with a victory over Osborne, which is still seeking its first region win.

Pope, which may still be trying to find its footing after not playing for two weeks, is treating this game as if it is the first round of the playoffs.

“Our kids, they know who we’re playing,” Griffin said. “They know Allatoona is good. Every game is a playoff game now. All the kids are excited. This is not a David and Goliath-type thing, we have a chance. Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win.”

Pope returned to action last week and shut out Osborne with a 54-0 victory.

Running back Joe Stellmach, who continues to be the bell cow for Pope’s offense, scored four touchdowns against the Cardinals while rushing for 115 yards.

The Greyhounds have running backs who can back him up, including Jasper Merriman and Joel Brock. Both scored touchdowns against Osborne with Merriman’s coming on a 64-yarder.

Defensively, Pope held Osborne to 130 yards.

“We had a good game against Osborne,” Griffin said. “We had a lot of young kids get playing time, which is good. Obviously this week is going to be a different animal.”

Having Josh Cohen back at full strength from injury should help. Griffin said Cohen will bring speed at the wide receiver position.

Allatoona, meanwhile, is looking to carry its momentum over into the postseason with a victory.

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