Avery Smith Riverwood

Quarterback Avery Smith (4) will lead the way for Riverwood in the Class AAAAAA state football playoffs.

A large number of local teams will be among those competing for state championships as the Georgia High School Association state football playoffs get underway with first-round games Nov. 12.

All team records listed don’t include the final regular season games scheduled for Nov. 5.

Marist (4-0 overall and 3-1 in Region 4AAAA) begins its quest to defend its Class AAAA championship. The War Eagles — the No. 1 ranked team in the state in AAAA — clinch the 4AAAA title with a win over Mays in their regular-season finale Nov. 5.

“We’ve continued to improve this season, particularly in the last three weeks or so,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “We’re becoming more consistent on offense. We’re getting out of the gate faster in games, which has been a little bit of a problem for us earlier in the season – but the last few weeks, we’ve done a better job of that. Defense, we’re learning our responsibilities and our assignments better. We’re fitting gaps better. We’re doing a better job recognizing pass routes and matching up with receivers and not giving up the big play.”

Another local team that has a region title sewed up is Holy Innocents’ (8-1, 3-0), the sixth-ranked team in Class A Private which won the 5A Private crown for the second time in three years and is now the No. 1 seed from that region in the Class A Private playoffs.

“With the exception of week three (a 49-0 loss to defending A Private champion Prince Avenue Christian Sept. 10), which was an opportunity for us to wake up a little bit, we’ve gotten a little bit better each week,” Holy Innocents’ coach Todd Winter said. “People know or people don’t know, we’re a very young football team.”

“We have 69 on the roster and we have only nine seniors,” Winter said. “We start two seniors on offense and four on defense and we’re starting nine sophomores. So, we’re a really young football team and I think what has happened is that each week, we’ve gotten a little bit better and that’s what’s going to happen when you’re a young football team, unlike the (region champion) ’19 team, which was a veteran team.”

Riverwood (8-1, 5-1) is on the cusp of winning the 7AAAAAA title — which would be its second region crown in three years — going into its last regular season game at Chattahoochee Nov. 5. The Raiders, the eighth-ranked team in AAAAAA, were in a three-way tie for first place with Cambridge and Johns Creek.

Woodward Academy (9-0, 6-0) — ranked third in AAAAA — tries to secure the 3AAAAA crown by beating Creekside, while St. Pius X (7-2, 5-0) — the seventh-ranked team in AAAAA — is in position to clinch the 5AAAAA title with a win over Decatur.

Pace Academy (5-4, 3-2) can clinch the No. 3 seed from 6AA with a win over KIPP Atlanta in its final regular season game, which would make Lovett (7-3, 6-2) the fourth seed from that region. A Pace loss would make Lovett the third seed and the Knights the No. 4 seed.

In Class A Private, seventh-ranked Wesleyan and Mount Vernon (both 6-3 overall and 2-1 in the region) are tied for second place in Region 5A Private behind Holy Innocents. The two teams play each other Nov. 5, with the winner getting the second seed for the state playoffs and the loser the No. 3 seed.

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