It’s time to play for keeps.
The LaGrange Grangers and Troup Tigers have both played three games, and they’re a combined 1-5.
None of that matters now, though.
The games that will determine the playoff fate of the Grangers and the Tigers will be played over the next seven weeks, beginning this week with the opening of Region 5-AAAA competition.
Troup will open its region schedule at home against Alexander on Thursday, and LaGrange will be at Kinnett Stadium in Columbus Friday night to play Shaw.
There are eight teams in the region, and while four of them will be moving on to the state playoffs when the regular season ends, the other four teams will be putting their equipment away after the 10th game.
After this week’s games, “half the teams will be in first place, and half will be in last,” Troup head coach Lynn Kendall said. “Our region schedule is getting going, and that’s our second season, really. I’m looking forward to it.”
Troup finished with a 1-2 record in non-region play after beating Redan in its opener before falling to Callaway and Newnan.
LaGrange is 0-3 with losses to Newnan, Harris County and Thomson, and while the record is disappointing, head coach Donnie Branch said every thing a team does early in the season is leading toward the start of region play.
“Everything you do in the first three games is in preparation for region, and the playoffs,” Branch said. “This is glorified preseason. You try to win, but no matter what you do, it’s gone.”
It figures to be a dogfight for the region’s four playoff spots.
As expected, Sandy Creek and Carrollton have both been dominant so far.
Those two clubs both had lofty preseason rankings in Class AAAA, and they’ve backed that up with strong starts to the season.
Carrollton is 3-0, and it has outscored its opponents by an average score of 46-7.
Sandy Creek, which won its third state championship in four seasons a year ago, is 2-0-1, with the tie coming against Plant (Fla.).
After that game, the Patriots scored a combined 109 points against Newnan and East Coweta.
A handful of other teams in the region, while not as dominant as Sandy Creek and Carrollton, are also playing well.
Alexander, which won just two games all of last year, is off to a 2-1 start this season, and Shaw is also 2-1.
Columbus is 1-2, but it has made a drastic turnaround from a year ago.
The Blue Devils were 0-10 last season, and they were beaten by an average score of 46-7.
This year, Columbus was competitive in its two losses, and it beat Northside-Columbus 35-13 last week to end a 19-game losing streak.
Troup is also 1-2, while LaGrange and Fayette County (0-3) are the only region teams still in search of a win.
A year ago, Sandy Creek was the region champion, Carrollton was second, followed by LaGrange and Shaw.
Most of the teams were off last week, with only LaGrange and Columbus in action.
Here’s a look at what the region teams have done so far.
Sandy Creek 2-0-1
Fayette County 0-3