Blood, sweat, and tiers

Region 2-AAAAA football predictions


Daniel Stackhouse

The famous victory bell stands at Panther Stadium. Its sound being chimed after every single win. This season, Starr’s Mill will face a region filled with stiff competition, with over half of the region fighting fiercely for the region crown. For Starr’s Mill, a region title this year would tie the record for region championships won within the county. From hopefuls, wildcards, and powerhouses, this is The Prowler’s Region 2-AAAAA football tier list.

Many doubted we would make it this far into fall sports, but here we are. It’s time for region play. Over the first five weeks of the football season, we have seen region 2-AAAAA develop into one of the more interesting regions after the re-classification. 

The Region 2-AAAAA tier list in its entirety. Though Starr’s Mill is the major frontrunner, the teams all vying for the playoffs are also making their case to take the king’s crown. Region play begins tomorrow. (Made with Tiermaker)

Using a blend of each team’s records and scores, along with some other factors, produced the following predictions. The games still need to be played, and anything can happen. With this in mind, let us start from the bottom and rise to the top.

  1. McIntosh Chiefs

Region record prediction: 0-6; host Starr’s Mill on Nov. 13

0-4. Need I say more? McIntosh is looking to be the weakest team among the region. They have had struggles developing a winning culture and this is just shaping to be another season of them struggling to find any success. In non-region play, only one of their games was decided by less than a score, and that was against a 1-3 Hampton team.

It is highly unlikely that they will be able to match up with the competition that they will face this season. If they want to have a chance they need to win early to get some momentum. Their first three games are on the road against Griffin, Whitewater, and Northside. McIntosh probably has the best chance of winning against the latter two.

If they cannot get at least two wins on their three-week road trip, they will have no momentum to back them up for the rest of the year, which is the only way they could possibly state their case. Otherwise, they will be at the bottom this year.

  1. Whitewater Wildcats

Region record prediction: 1-5; travel to Starr’s Mill on Nov. 6

If they want to prove they are in the running for the playoffs, they have to win over Northside in game one and McIntosh in game three.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

In this tier, these teams do have a chance to at least make the playoffs, but it is going to take a lot more work. Whitewater started the season on the rocks, being demolished by Newnan 42-17. However, each of their other games have been decided by three points or less.

Whitewater has been pretty competitive all things considered. However, their lack of high quality non-region play could hold them back. If they want to prove they are in the running for the playoffs, they have to win over Northside in game one and McIntosh in game three.

Note that the team is currently quarantining and their first three games have already been postponed and rescheduled. They will fact a test of endurance with three games over 10 days

Getting through the higher tiers of competition will be key. Going through this romp with a new coach could cause even more trouble for them. Winning at home against Northgate would be a statement win for Whitewater, but outside of the three potential wins, it is hard to see them winning against anybody else, putting them on the outside once again.

  1. Northside Columbus Patriots

Region record prediction: 2-4; host Starr’s Mill on Nov. 20

Northside is currently going through a transfer period after a 1-9 season last year and acquiring a new coach this year. On paper, they look pretty good, scoring an average of 38 points per game in four games. However, the teams they have played have bad records. The only team they have played with a winning record was LaGrange, who they lost to 35-28.

What cannot be determined is what their dominating performances really mean. Having played weaker teams, they may not be able to keep up within the region. Combining the fact that they are under a first year coach, their non-region success could easily mean nothing with the competition the next four teams have been playing and their non-region success.

  1. Northgate Vikings

Region record prediction: 3-3; host Starr’s Mill on Oct. 16

Despite losing badly against East Coweta, who are a powerful team in their own right, the experience of playing and being exposed by them should be valuable.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

This is where the competition for the region really starts getting stiff. Historically, Northgate has always been competitive despite being mediocre these past few years. They are riding with a second year head coach and started the season 2-2.

Even though their record is .500, they proved that they are at the very least a highly competitive team. They began with a tight 28-24 loss to Sandy Creek, another nail-biting 41-40 win over Locust Grove, a solid win in Villa Rica, and got rocked by East Coweta 49-17. That proves that for at least three of these games they were either in it or ahead.

Despite losing badly against East Coweta, who are a powerful team in their own right, the experience of playing and being exposed by them should be valuable. They also have another bye because of the COVID fiasco in Whitewater, so that time could be valuable to refining a couple of things before they play Starr’s Mill at home on Oct. 16.

In their position, winning against the teams right above them is paramount. They will play Harris County and Griffin both on the road within three weeks. If they can rack up those wins and take care of the lesser teams in the region, their ticket to the playoffs will be punched without a doubt, and could possibly overtake the teams above them

  1. Griffin Bears

Region record prediction: 4-2; travel to Starr’s Mill on Oct. 30

Taking away who Griffin has lost to in non-region play, their 1-3 play looks really bad. Then you pull back the curtain and realize their losses were to Lowndes, a perennial AAAAAAA powerhouse, Peach County, one of the best teams in AAA, and Lovejoy, the hottest team in AAAAAA.

Athleticism has always been on Griffin’s side.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

That is some really stout competition, and I would argue they had the toughest non-region schedule across every team in the region. But of course, those losses were complete blowouts. The Bears being outscored by an average of nearly 33 points does seem alarming. Regardless, playing these teams may have been a strategy for building them up. Oh, and they beat Spalding, too.

Athleticism has always been on Griffin’s side. It is coaching that has always seemed to be their weakness. Even if coaching has held them back, their athletic ability brought them all the way to the elite eight last year. If they want to go further this year or win this region, both sides need to mesh together and the coaches need to help carry the athleticism to heights they would not otherwise be able to achieve on their own.

For Griffin, getting past the other teams in the top four are key. I have no doubt they will crush McIntosh, Whitewater, and maybe even Northside, but it is the top four that could keep them from the ground. But of course, Starr’s Mill is always a pivotal game in the season, and getting past them when they face each other on Oct. 30 could be the jolt they need to win the region.

  1. Harris County Tigers

Region record prediction: 5-1; travel to Starr’s Mill on Oct. 9

This is a team that is the closest to making the two-way power struggle between Starr’s Mill and Griffin into a three-way struggle.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

Harris County may be the closest team to having everything it takes to snatch the crown from the Panthers. What many may not know is that they are coming from a region that housed Warner Robins and Veterans, two of the most competitive schools in the entire state. The Tigers get to take that experience into a whole new region.

Starting this season, they put together a 3-0 start, albeit against some mediocre opponents, but did nab a win against  3-1 Upson-Lee team. Then they travelled to Newnan, and actually hung with them for a good chunk of the game, even leading at half. Newnan did end up running away with it 34-21, but if hanging tough with a difficult AAAAAAA opponent is not an indicator that Harris County is some stiff competition, then I do not know what is.

Similarly to Starr’s Mill, Harris County’s biggest tests are going to be within the top three. As previously mentioned, they will be traveling to Starr’s Mill tomorrow hungry for destruction. They will play at Griffin on Nov. 13, which will be an important game to see where they are going to be in the season.

This is a team that is the closest to making the two-way power struggle between Starr’s Mill and Griffin into a three-way struggle. They should be able to handle the bottom four of the region just fine. Now Harris County has a chance to step into their own and claim a new region for themselves if they play their cards right, or at the very least make a strong case when the postseason comes around.

  1. Starr’s Mill Panthers

Region record prediction: 6-0

Call it home team bias or whatever you want to call it, but there is no denying it. Looking at the defense, I could not see it coming out any other way. This team has limited opponents to 10.5 points, and the only team to score more than three touchdowns was East Coweta in a game that went into overtime.

Looking at the defense, I could not see it coming out any other way.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

On the other side of the ball, they are getting work done to improve, and they have already shown signs of dominance. Even after falling short against East Coweta, not once, but twice this season they did exactly what they needed to do to help the team edge out opponents with a win. All the while playing playoff caliber teams. Even with a greener offense, if they can do what they need to do in tandem with that incredible defense, seeing them win the region is a no brainer.

Yet if they want to win this region they have to take on the challenges that are on their tails. I think they have more than a good chance against the bottom four teams of the region. Instead it is the teams right below them that will probably end up being the biggest challenge.

Game one of region they are set to play Harris County this Friday, a team that is coming with a vengeance, not only from their 34-21 loss to Newnan last week, but to also redeem themselves for their playoff bout last season. The Griffin game will probably decide the flow of the region like it always does. Everyone in Panther Nation has their eyes on their team, being recently ranked no. 9 on the AJC rankings. Now, their road to valor, and five-straight region championships, begins for real.

The new additions from the region realignments have made this region much more diverse. Starr’s Mill and Griffin will need to keep on their toes more so than they have in the past. Do not be confused though, when the dust settles on this season, anything could happen. 

Check each week for game summaries and analysis.

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