Before we get into the individual matchups in Thursday's blog, there are big-picture storylines to look at as we set the stage for Week 7. In this 52-team classification, there are just six Friday nights of football left for 20 of the teams.
The regular season will end on November 4, and this is the point in the season when that reality really starts to settle in. By late Friday night, temperatures will dip below 60 degrees for the first time this season. During this subtle reminder that the playoffs are around the corner, there are four non-region matchups, 16 teams taking bye weeks and 16 total region games to take note of.
Region 1 is the only eight-team region in this classification, and once again will be the 'host with the most' when it comes to region matchups. Cairo sits at the top of the region at 2-0, while six teams enter the week log jammed with 1-1 region records. Westover (1-1) and Hardaway (1-1) kickoff the action Thursday night at Kinnett Stadium and are each coming off clutch victories to avoid 0-2 starts. Westover topped Carver-Columbus 23-20 last Thursday, while Hardaway held off Columbus 16-10 Friday night.
In Region 2, Perry takes on Class AAA Dougherty in a non-region filler game, while West Laurens at Howard and Spalding at Mary Persons open up region play. Mary Persons cruised to a perfect regular season record last year and Region 2 title, while Spalding put together a 9-1 regular season record in Region 4. Spalding and Mary Persons haven't occupied the same region since 2009 when Spalding scored a 21-0 victory to snap an 0-5 all-time previous drought against the Bulldogs.
Undefeated Thomson faces Clarkston in Region 3's non-region filler game and it will be the Bulldogs' first game since demolishing Pace Academy 38-10 back on Sept. 9. Burke County and Richmond Academy are off while Cross Creek faces Hephzibah in the region opener.
Region 5 will have more intriguing weeks ahead, while three games headline Friday. Winless Henry County (0-4) lost to Riverdale 50-0 on Sept. 16 before a bye this past Friday and will square off with Woodward Academy, which has outscored its last three opponents 154-6.
In Region 6, Heritage-Catoosa visits Southeast Whitfield with both teams looking to keep their region record unblemished. Ridgeland, which also won its region opener last week is on a bye.
Marist at Class AAAAAA Gainesville and White County at Class AAA Lumpkin County set up two cross classification matchups in the small five-team Region 7. The rest of the region is off this week.
North Oconee, Oconee County, St. Pius and Stephens County are all off in Region 8, but one major game centralizes the excitement. After starting 0-5 last year, Madison County is off to a 5-0 start this year and will put its undefeated record on the line against 4-1 Jefferson.
WEEK 7 SCHEDULE
Friday, Sept. 30
*Americus-Sumter at Cairo
*Shaw at Carver-Columbus (Columbus Memorial)
*Columbus at Northside-Columbus (Kinnett Stadium)
*Westover at Hardaway (Kinnett Stadium) (Thursday)
*West Laurens at Howard
*Spalding at Mary Persons
Dougherty at Perry
*Cross Creek at Hephzibah
Clarkston at Thomson
OFF-Burke County, Richmond Academy, Baldwin County
*Woodward Academy at Henry County
*Luella at Salem
OFF- Druid Hills, Eastside, North Clayton
*Central-Carroll at Cartersville
*Cedartown at LaGrange
*Troup at Sandy Creek
*Pickens at Gilmer
*Heritage-Catoosa at Southeast Whitfield
*LaFayette at Northwest Whitfield
Marist at Gainesville
White County at Lumpkin County
OFF-Blessed Trinity, Chestatee, West Hall
*Jefferson at Madison County
OFF- North Oconee, Oconee County, St. Pius, Stephens County