High school football coaches all over the state prepare their teams for region play. They build their seasons around those games. They point to them and let their players and fans know how important they are even before the season begins.
The non-region games are nice, but things get serious once region play rolls around.
Thats what the teams in GHSA Region 2-AAAA are facing this week.
Region play got started Thursday night when Baldwin traveled to Macon to face Howard. The rest of the regions teams open their region schedules Friday.
Westside hosts Veterans, Mary Persons hosts Perry and West Laurens hosts Rutland, and all three games could have a big impact on the playoff chase. Actually, all the games in the region will have an impact because it looks like it will be a wild and interesting region all season.
Without Peach County in the mix -- the Trojans stayed in Class AAA while these other teams moved up a class -- the region doesnt have an overwhelming favorite. And there seem to be several solid teams that will be fighting it out for playoff spots.
The region got off to a strong start the first three weeks in non-region play, and that backs up the theory that this could be a wide-open race the whole way.
Westside, Mary Persons, Perry, Rutland and West Laurens are all 2-1 entering region play. Veterans is 1-2, while Baldwin improved to 2-2 with its win Thursday over winless Howard. And its not just the wins. Taking into account who these teams lost to shows that the region should be in for a solid season.
Westsides loss is to Northside, while Mary Persons lost to Jackson, and Perry lost to Peach County. Baldwins two losses are to Washington County and Peach County, and Veterans losses are to Northside and Warner Robins.
Thats a strong non-region schedule all the way around, and those games, even the losses, should make these teams better moving forward. They will be stronger for having played those games instead of settling for sure wins. And now that theyre into region play, they shouldnt face anything they havent seen before after playing those powerhouse teams.
All of that adds up to seven interesting and exciting weeks the rest of the regular season as these teams decide which four teams will represent this region in the playoffs.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org