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Teams take final step to postseason
Salem-Madison rematch highlights region playoffs

CONYERS - The Region 8-AAAA playoff matchups are set for Friday night.

Only three local squads - Salem, Eastside and Heritage - have a chance to earn Class AAAA playoff berths with victories on Friday.

Salem (8-1), which claimed the Region 8-AAAA subregion title with a 28-10 victory over Cedar Shoals, entertains Madison County (5-4, No. 4 seed from 8-AAAA North) in a rematch from last year's region playoffs this Friday at Reid Memorial Stadium.

Eastside (7-2, No. 3 seed from 8-AAAA South) will square off with Clarke Central (6-2-1, No. 2 seed from 8-AAAA North) on Friday in Athens at Billy Henderson Stadium.

Heritage (3-6), which claimed the No. 4 seed from 8-AAAA South with a 28-24 victory over Alcovy on Friday, faces the long bus ride to Mount Airy to meet Habersham (8-1), the 8-AAAA North subregion champion and the No. 7 team in the state rankings.

In the other local games, Alcovy (2-7, No. 6 seed from 8-AAAA South) hosts Winder-Barrow (4-5, No. 6 seed from 8-AAAA North) at Homer Sharp Stadium in Covington, while Rockdale (1-8, No. 6 seed from 8-AAAA South) travels to play Loganville (3-6, No. 5 seed from 8-AAAA North).

Cedar Shoals (8-1, No. 2 seed from 8-AAAA South) hosts Dacula (5-4, No. 3 seed from 8-AAAA North) in Athens with a Class AAAA playoff berth on the line. The other contest features Jackson County (0-9, the No. 7 seed from 8-AAAA North) hosting Class AAA power Hart County (8-1) in Jefferson.

Last year, 8-AAAA North swept all six playoff games and earned all of the Class AAAA state playoff berths from the region.

Madison County at Salem

Last year, Jack Orr's 40-yard field goal in the final minute lifted the Red Raiders to a 47-44 victory over the Seminoles in a shootout at Evans Memorial Stadium.

Quarterbacks dominated the game as Salem's Terrance Davis rushed for 109 yards and passed for 169 yards and two scores while Madison County's Jarrod Owens passed for 315 yards and four scores. Owens graduated this spring, and Davis' status for Friday night is up in the air after he tweaked his hamstring injury in the victory over Cedar Shoals.

Salem leads the all-time series between the schools 2-1.

Madison County is coached by former Heritage coach Randell Owens, who is only 1-4 in games played in Rockdale County since going to Madison County, including a 0-1 mark at Reid.

Eastside at Clarke Central

The Eagles nailed down the No. 3 seed from 8-AAAA South with a convincing 42-6 win over Rockdale on Saturday night. Eastside has won three straight games to post its first winning season since 2001.

The Eagles finished fourth in the subregion last year and lost their region playoff game 31-14 at Habersham Central.

Clarke Central was off last week and had already clinched the No. 2 seed from 8-AAAA North. The Gladiators lead the all-time series 4-0 with two victories in Athens.

The two squads have played four common opponents this season - Cedar Shoals, Heritage, Madison County and Loganville - compiling an identical 3-1 marks. Both teams lost to Cedar Shoals.

Last year, Clarke Central earned a Class AAAA berth by upsetting crosstown rival Cedar Shoals 17-14 in the region playoffs.

Heritage at Habersham Central

In reality, the Patriots started their playoffs last week with a 28-24 victory over Alcovy, which got them into a three-way tie with Alcovy and Rockdale in the final Region 8-AAAA South standings. Heritage claimed the No. 4 seed on a tiebreaker - its better overall record.

The Patriots have enjoyed their past two trips to Mount Airy, winning in 2002 and 2004. In fact, Heritage has won three of the past four meetings between the two schools. However, Habersham Central still leads the all-time series 7-3.

The Raiders are ranked No. 7 in Class AAAA in the Associated Press Georgia High School Football Poll.

Winder-Barrow at Alcovy

This game features the playoffs' only regular season rematch. Winder-Barrow beat Alcovy 23-7 back in Week 3 at Winder.

The Tigers have lost four straight since claiming their first subregion victory in school history against Rockdale.

Winder-Barrow is in the midst of a five-game losing streak after starting the season at 4-0. The Bulldoggs lead the all-time series 2-0.

Rockdale at Loganville

Rockdale enters the region playoff coming off a brutal stretch on its schedule. The Bulldogs played Salem, Cedar Shoals and Eastside on consecutive weeks and dropped all three games by a combined score 125-24.

Loganville has lost three of its last four games, with the losses coming to Madison County, Habersham Central and Dacula while the only victory was against Jackson County. In fact, the Red Devils have failed to win at home so far in four games this season.

Rockdale leads the all-time series 3-1. The Red Devils have scored only 19 points in four games against Rockdale.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: Region playoffs

Friday's 8-AAAA Schedule

Madison County at Salem (Reid Stadium), 7:30 p.m.

Eastside at Clarke Central, 7:30 p.m.

Heritage at Habersham Central, 7:30 p.m.

Winder-Barrow at Alcovy, 7:30 p.m.

Rockdale at Loganville, 7:30 p.m.

Dacula at Cedar Shoals, 7:30 p.m.

Hart County at Jackson County, 7:30 p.m.