CONYERS - Four class AAAA state tournament berths are up for grabs today as the top eight teams from Region 8-AAAA face off for the chance to compete in soccer's second season.
On the boys' side, Salem and Heritage finished No. 1 and No. 2 in 8-AAAA South play and will host games tonight in Rockdale County.
The Salem boys will play host to Clarke Central today at 5:30 p.m. at Reid Memorial Stadium.
"All I really know about Clarke is that they're the No. 4 seed from the North. We haven't played them (Clarke) this year, but I do know that they beat Heritage 1-0," Salem boys coach Sean DeWeese said. "All four teams from the North are pretty good and I think Clarke will give us a good fight. We just have to keep doing what we've been doing."
Heritage boys coach Mike Beshiri finds himself in a similar position as DeWeese, having not played his opponent, Cedar Shoals, this year either.
"They (Cedar) are the No. 3 seed from the North part of our region. We have not played them prior to this match," he said. "I think they beat Clarke Central, but I am not sure, nor is it really relevant. The team that steps on the field to play will win. The Heritage team that lost to Clarke at the beginning of the season is a much different team now. I hope we want to play Friday evening."
Meanwhile, the Alcovy boys will make the school's postseason debut on the soccer field when the Tigers travel to take on Habersham Central.
But Alcovy boys coach Mike Ebel knows it will not be an easy task.
"They (Habersham) are a very good team. They're the sixth-ranked team in the state," he said. "They've scored around 73 goals this year and only given up around 13. It's definitely going to be a challenge, but it's a challenge the guys are looking forward to."
On the girls side, Salem earned the No. 1 seed and will play host to Cedar Shoals at 7:30 at Reid.
Salem girls coach Heather Richardson said the team will need to play well if they expect to advance to the next round of the region playoffs.
"We are expecting a very good matchup. Ultimately, this is the game that decides who goes to the state playoffs," she said. "We need to make sure that we're on top of our game."
The Heritage girls claimed the No. 3 seed and will be on the road at Winder-Barrow.
"It's going to be a tough draw. We're going to have to play well to advance," Heritage girls coach Chad Suddeth said. "Still, I feel that our girls are motivated. They missed the state playoffs last year for the first time in a few years. This game will decide who goes to state and who goes home."
Another team making its school's postseason debut on the soccer field is the Eastside Lady Eagles.
The Lady Eagles, coached by Libba Willcox, will hit the field today on the road at Dacula.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
SideBar: Region 8-AAAA soccer playoffs
What: Region 8-AAAA soccer playoffs
· Salem vs. Clarke Central at 5:30 (Reid)
· Heritage vs. Cedar Shoals at 6 (Evans)
· Loganville vs. Dacula (at Dacula)
· Alcovy vs. Habersham Central (at Habersham Central)
· Salem vs. Cedar Shoals at 7:30 (Reid)
· Loganville vs. Habersham Central (at Loganville)
· Heritage vs. Winder-Barrow at 6 (at Winder-Barrow)
· Eastside vs. Dacula (at Dacula)