October 26, 2012

Chris Whitfield: Stretch run is here for area football squads

— Time flies when you’re having fun, and after tonight’s games, area fans are guaranteed only two more weeks of high school football. That could change as we move along here, but currently none of the seven teams in our coverage area are guaranteed to be playing past Game 10 this year.

However, Dalton is a win away from wrapping up a “meaningful” final game of the regular season on Nov. 9, when Sub-region 7B-4A teams host Sub-region 7A-4A teams in crossover matchups. The two sub-region winners are guaranteed 7-4A’s top two seeds for the state playoffs, while the No. 2 and 3 seeds from each sub-region will play 2 versus 3 matchups to determine the final two seeds for state.

That’s also important to the other two local teams in 7B-4A, because the winner of tonight’s Whitfield County Clash in Tunnel Hill between Southeast and Northwest all but locks up no worse than third place in the sub-region.

If Christian Heritage wins its final three games of the season, the Lions should earn one of the 16 private school berths in the Class A playoffs, but I left my Texas Instruments graphing calculator at home, so I can’t really be certain.

Although not mathematically eliminated, Murray County and Coahulla Creek are already in the “playing for pride” portion of the season.

Then there’s North Murray.

I’ve had a lot of fun with the Mountaineers and their fans this year, and they have taken the challenges I have thrown out to them with a determination to prove me wrong, which is exactly the way it was meant to be. North Murray has some quality players on its team, and the entire program should be very proud of the turnaround under first-year coach David Gann. The fact that we have been talking about the Mountaineers and the playoffs in the same conversation this year is an indication of a giant step forward.  

But the hopes of playoffs and of shaving my head, as promised earlier this year, are dim. North Murray would have to win its final three games and hope for a little help in order to be one of Region 5-3A’s state representatives at this point.

I don’t know about the teams in our coverage area, but I am in postseason form right now. Last week your Prep Pigskin Prognost-icator was a stellar 8-2 with only a couple games not involving local teams providing blemishes to my record.

For the year, your Guru of Gridiron Guessing would already have an NBA playoffs spot locked up with his 50-18 mark.

Bring on the action!

Game of the Week — Southeast at Northwest: This one should be a lot of fun for a number of reasons, and almost all of them favor Southeast.

First, no one expected a school with a first-year coach and little history of winning being in position to have an all-or-nothing game for a chance at a playoff spot. Second, the Raiders haven’t beaten the Bruins in two decades. Third, there is certainly more pressure on the Bruins to make the playoffs this year after near misses in the past two seasons.

That means Southeast can come out and play loosey-goosey and not have to worry about pressure. Heck, the Raiders are 2-5 overall, so who expects them play in a meaningful 10th game anyway? With all of that comes a lot of freedom for coach Sean Gray and his team, and you might want to prepare yourself for the Raiders to pull out all of the stops.

Fake punt? Why not. Onside kick when no one is expecting it? Sure. Double-reverse pass? Almost a given. Fumblerooski? I can see it. Hook-and-lateral? Maybe more than once.

Southeast should feel liberated.

Top-to-bottom, Northwest has more talent, more players and a better chance of making state since they have already beaten either of the teams they are likely to play in the region crossover game. But, by that same criteria, they should have beaten Dalton, too.

We know how that went.

Whit’s Pick: Northwest 35, Southeast 14

Heritage-Catoosa at Dalton: This is how you plan a homecoming. Pretty girls, dads in suits, orchestral band and a winless opponent.

Moon Pies two weeks in a row?

Whit’s Pick: Dalton 41, Heritage 0

Christian Heritage at South-west Atlanta Christian: The Lions have more cheerleaders than SACA has players.

The funny thing is that even with a win over the alma mater of Dwight Howard, Christian Heritage’s power rating in the GHSA’s new system for Class A private schools will go down.

Whit’s Pick: Christian Heritage 47, Southwest Atlanta Christian 8

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe at North Murray: All hope isn’t gone, but it will take some luck.

If you can get past LFO, there is still a chance.

Whit’s Pick: Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 38, North Murray 34

Coahulla Creek at Ringgold: The North Murray players will take all of the Colts out for pizza if Coahulla Creek pulls the upset.

OK, maybe not — but I guarantee Mountaineers coach David Gann would send Colts coach Jared Hamlin a than- you card.

Whit’s Pick: Ringgold 42, Coahulla Creek 28

Dade County at Murray County: A one-win Dade team is the Indians’ best hope for a win this season.

Whit’s Pick: Dade County 21, Murray County 20

Other games: Gilmer 17, River Ridge 14; Cedartown 30, Cass 21; Pickens 35, Johnson-Gainesville 14; Ridgeland 48, LaFayette 13; Gordon Central 42, Sonoraville 7; Cartersville 42, Adairsville 14; Calhoun 60, Armuchee 10; Pepperell 21, Chattooga 7.

Chris Whitfield is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at chriswhitfield@daltoncitizen.com.

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