CONYERS - With three weeks left in the regular season, all six area high school football teams are alive in their region playoff races.
This week could be critical for the teams and their playoff hopes.
Salem's 21-20 overtime win over Cedar Shoals and Loganville's 17-12 victory over Apalachee were the key games Friday that shook up the 8-AAAA standings
Clarke Central and Loganville are tied for first place at 6-1. Apalachee is third at 5-2 and Cedar Shoals is fourth at 5-3.
Rockdale and Salem are both only a half game behind Cedar Shoals in fifth at 4-3. Habersham Central is next at 4-4, and even Heritage at 3-4 still has a chance.
There are three key games on this week's schedule in 8-AAAA.
On the local scene, Rockdale entertains Habersham Central in a must-win game for both squads. If the Bulldogs win, they'll be 5-3 with games left at Loganville next week and at home against Monroe Area in the final week.
A fifth loss probably dashes Habersham Central's playoff hopes.
With a 3-4 record, Heritage has no margin for error the final three weeks. So the Patriots will need to pull off the upset Friday night against Apalachee in order to keep their playoff chances alive. A Heritage win also helps Rockdale and Salem.
The other key contest in 8-AAAA is the Classic City Showdown, which sends Clarke Central to Cedar Shoals in Athens. A Clarke Central victory bolsters the playoff hopes of the local schools.
As for Salem, the Seminoles need a victory at Winder-Barrow (1-6) to keep pace in the race. The Seminoles close out the season with a road game at Habersham Central and home game against Apalachee.
Eastside is now in a four-way tie for first-place in
8-AAA at 3-1 with Franklin County, Stephens County and Hart County.
The Eagles host Oconee County, who is fifth at 2-2, on Saturday night.
The other key contest pits Franklin County against Stephens County in Toccoa. That means, at the most, there will be only three teams tied at 4-1 next week, if Eastside and Hart County (hosting Morgan County) also prevail.
Interestingly enough, Franklin County closes out its season with games against Stephens County, Hart County and Eastside.
Alcovy is in a three-way tie for fourth place at 3-2 with Griffin and Dutchtown in 4-AAAA.
North Clayton leads the region with a 5-0 record, followed by Jonesboro at 4-1 and Mount Zion at 4-2.
Alcovy faces Mount Zion at Tara Stadium in Jonesboro on Friday. A victory pushes the Tigers past Mount Zion in the standings.
The other key game in Region 4-AAAA on Friday night is Griffin at Jonesboro. A Griffin victory coupled with an Alcovy win gives the region a three-way tie for second place.
Newton is now tied with Luella at 2-2 for fourth place in 2-AAAAA after beating Greenbrier 28-14 last Friday in Evans.
Union Grove leads at 4-0, followed by Stephenson and M.L. King at 3-1.
Newton and Luella meet in the regular season finale on Nov. 7, so they'll both need to keep pace with each other over the next two weeks.
Newton entertains Douglass (1-3) on Friday night, while Luella travels to Redan (1-3).
The big game in 2-AAAAA this week is Union Grove hosting Stephenson.