With the regular season now in the rearview mirror, 32 teams in each of the state’s six classifications will begin play in the state playoffs this weekend.
Among the local teams, Callaway and LaGrange have made it through to state, while Troup came up short.
Callaway heads to state as the top seed out of Region 4-AAA, and LaGrange will be the third seed from Region 5-AAAA.
Callaway (9-1) will be at home Friday night against Tatnall County (5-5), the fourth-place team from Region 1-AAA.
LaGrange (5-5), meanwhile, will travel to Gainesville Friday night to take on Chestatee (8-2), the second-place team from Region 8-AAAA.
Callaway embarks on its state journey on a roll.
Since a season-opening loss to Heard County, Callaway has ripped off nine consecutive wins, including Friday’s regular-season ending 41-14 win over Rockmart.
That win gave the Cavaliers a 7-0 record in region play and the undisputed region championship.
“It was a great win,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said afterward. “Getting that region championship, I’m proud for the Callaway community and our football team.”
The Yellow Jackets were within 11 late in the first half when sophomore cornerback Terry Godwin came up with a remarkable one-handed interception and raced about 50 yards for a touchdown.
Touchdown runs by Eddie Culpepper, Wilson Lindsey, quarterback Tez Parks highlighted the offensive effort.
“It was a great job,” Wiggins said. “We had a little adversity, and we handled that well. From an offensive, and defensive, and special-teams standpoint, I feel like we executed pretty well when we had to.”
Next up is a Tatnall County team that has had an up-and-down season.
The Warriors haven’t won more than two games in a row, but they also haven’t lost back-to-back games all season.
Tatnall County closed the regular season with a 34-14 loss to Johnson-Savannah in a showdown for the third seed.
LaGrange heads to state after falling to Carrollton 41-14 in its final regular-season game.
Had the Grangers won, they would have been the region’s number two seed and they would have been at home this week.
Quarterback Zach Giddens threw a pair of touchdown passes to Dee Gates in the first half, and the Grangers were within shouting distance at the half, down 27-14.
The Trojans used their powerful running game to pull away in the second half, though.
The Grangers completed the regular season with a 5-5 record, although four of those losses came to teams that either won their region or finished second.
Two of the losses came to teams ranked first in the state, Sandy Creek in Class AAAA, and Thomson in Class AAA.
Chestatee is another tough opponent.
The War Eagles are 8-2, and they’re 8-1 since a season-opening loss to North Hall.
Chestatee concluded its regular season with a 48-7 win over Madison County.
While Carrollton gets it done with its explosive running game, LaGrange head coach Donnie Branch said Chestatee is more of a passing offense, which offers a more favorable matchup for LaGrange’s defense.
“We’re playing a new team with a completely different style,” Branch said. “They’re really good on offense, but it’s a completely different type of scheme. So, football’s a game of matchups.”
Regardless, Branch knows his team will have to play better than it did against Carrollton to make a nice run at state.
“It’s a game where you don’t even show the film,” Branch said. “If you show the film, you kick two or three guys off the team.”
In GISA football, the Dawson Street Christian School Wildcats finished second in Region 1-A, and they’ll be at home Friday in the first round of the playoffs against Crisp Academy.
The teams will play at 7:30 p.m. in Hogansville.