Around the state, many regions are beginning to take shape as teams jockey for position for the postseason. But for a few area teams, this week marks the beginning of their march in their respective regions as they chance a spot in the playoffs.
Warner Robins has raced out to a 6-0 record and is ranked fourth in GHSA Class 5A. In the process, the Demons traveled to Peach County and handed the Trojans their only defeat and vanquished county rivals Northside and Houston County.
The Demons open Region 1-5A play Friday by traveling to Thomas County Central. Despite the great start, head coach Mike Chastain wants his team to stay singularly focused.
“We don’t care about what’s happened until now; our whole goal is what’s happening next.” Chastain said. “We try to dominate the next day, the next practice, the next whatever. Our whole mantra is to dominate the next task at hand.”
Veterans also opens Region 1-5A play this week, hosting Bainbridge on Friday. The Warhawks are 2-4 and have lost three straight games to Houston County, Howard and Perry.
Northside is ranked fourth in Class 6A. The Eagles open Region 1-6A play against defending Class 6A champion Valdosta.
There are only five teams in the region, meaning each game is meaningful in the playoff chase.
“There’s no margin for error whatsoever,” Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler said. “There are five good teams in this region, and when you get this late in the year, everybody’s gone through a pretty physical non-region schedule, so it’s like you go into the toughest part of your schedule, but you already have people banged up.”
Perry has been much improved in Class 4A. The Panthers’ only loss is to Peach County. Perry opens Region 2-4A play against Howard on Thursday.
Northside, Warner Robins, Veterans and Perry are the final four teams to open region play in the area. From here on out, each game could be a playoff eliminator, and that’s what makes region play so special.
“When you play teams like Valdosta and Lee (County) and Coffee, and Houston (County), you’ve got to be laser focused, and you’ve got to get good reps in practice,” Kinsler noted. “You’ve gotta start preparing your kids to play physical four-quarter football. It’s a grind week in and week out.”