TIFTON — The last area team gets region started this week and every school is now fighting for the playoffs or better position in it.
Tiftarea Academy, the final school to face a conference opponent, hosts Brookwood Friday night in GISA Region 3-AAA. In 1-7A, Tift County has Camden County at Brodie Field. Region 1-AA battles have Worth County going to Berrien, Cook at Early County and No. 3 Thomasville at No. 2 Fitzgerald. Irwin County plays at Charlton County in Region 2-A. Turner County is off.
Brookwood has been a machine on offense in 2021, but only has two wins to show for it. One was last week against Southwest Georgia Academy, 49-27, the other the week before against Edmund Burke Academy. The Warriors’ difficulty has been on defense; they are being outscored 38-27 on average in each game.
Tiftarea’s one-game win streak was wiped out at Terrell Academy in its final non-region contest. The Eagles won, 49-20, employing a big and tall offense to keep the Panthers at bay. Dylan Harbort ran for two touchdowns and threw another to Cason Peavy. Harbort should hit 750 passing yards for the season this week.
The winner might be in the driver’s seat for 3-AAA as none of the teams have posted .500 records in non-region games. Valwood hosts Southland Academy in the other matchup.
The Blue Devils of Tift County kept Lowndes contained on the ground. That may be good news for the locals this Friday as Camden County prefers the ball in the hands of their running backs. The bad news is that the Wildcats gave Colquitt County quite a scare last week, not just taking the Packers to overtime, but leading in it on an Adonis Coyle field goal.
The Colquitt game did see Camden go to the air much more, Gray Loden throwing for 195 yards. Jamie Felix ran for 130 yards and two scores.
Tift debuted a new-look offense, with a new quarterback under center in Jackson Strickland. Strickland, who had played quarterback in junior varsity, gave the Devils a big burst, running for more than 100 yards and a touchdown.
Fitzgerald and Thomasville have the potential to be one of the state’s best games this week. Both are 7-1 overall, 3-0 in 1-AA. Oddly enough, both won by 28-13 scores last week, Fitzgerald over Worth County and Thomasville against Cook.
Thomasville got three touchdowns from Malik Harper and 238 yards on 23 carries in defeating the Hornets. Fitzgerald continued to find new ways to score, Georgia High School Football Daily reporting Donald Wilcox had two touchdowns for the Hurricane and E.J. Lightsey and Robert Brown scoring the others.
Fitzgerald has not lost a region game since Nov. 1, 2019.
Thomasville or Fitzgerald will almost assuredly finish 1-2 in Region 1-AA, depending on who wins Friday’s game. Seeds 2-4 have the potential to get quite messy, with Worth, Cook, Berrien and Early all in contention.
Berrien had a chance to make its case more solid last week, but dropped an overtime decision at Early County. Justin Cribb and Elijah Denson each threw touchdown passes in that contest, each throwing to the other. Early hit a two-point conversion for the 17-15 final.
Worth has been hit by bad luck and an extremely difficult schedule in recent weeks. They are 0-3 in the region, but have Berrien and Early remaining. In the loss to No. 2 Fitzgerald, Chip Cooper put on his usual clinic, running for plenty of yards and throwing with accuracy all over the field.
Video highlights show Owen Hancock and Deonte Fulton reeling in touchdown passes.
In Blakely, Cook tries to right the ship after difficult games at Berrien and Thomasville. The Hornets defeated Worth earlier in the season for their only region win. A last game against Fitzgerald means Early is its best chance to get into the state tournament. Early, which has Worth next week, likely feels the same about Cook. Both are 1-2 in 1-AA.
Irwin County is rolling, as usual, in Region 2-A. They are 3-0 in the conference and well-rested after a bye. Before going on break, the Indians trounced Atkinson County in an affair that saw Cody Soliday throw for touchdowns to four different receivers. Soliday is at 963 passing yards for the year.
Damarkas Lundy appears to be finding his feet as a running back, scoring twice against Atco.
Charlton, in contrast, has not had a pleasant few weeks. They started 5-0 and were ranked sixth by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. However, they are back out of the rankings because of losses to Turner County and Brooks County, the latter being 42-7 and now may need help even making state.
Turner, which rests this week, is 3-1 in 2-A after edging Lanier County last week.
They have their two toughest games on the slate remaining, however, at Brooks County and at Irwin County.