With a combined 1-9 record at the halfway mark of the season, Woodstock and River Ridge looked in danger of letting their seasons slip away.
Since then, each team has rattled off three straight wins at the most important time of the season.
Woodstock (3-5, 3-2) now holds a pivotal tiebreaker over archrival Etowah, which they beat 14-7 on Friday at the Wolverine Den, for the fourth and final playoff spot in Region 5AAAAAA.
Though the Wolverines’ resurgence may come as a surprise to some, that’s not the case for Woodstock coach Brent Budde.
“Early on, when we were 0-5, everyone was doubting this team,” he said. “I knew, and this team knew, what kind of character we had. They kept believing, working hard and improving every week. It’s because of out improvements that we won (Friday).”
If the Wolverines defeat Wheeler next Friday and Etowah (5-3, 3-2) loses at Walton, Woodstock will be guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs for the first time in two years.
After defeating Gilmer 24-21, River Ridge is now 3-0 in Region 7AAAA (A) and has sole possession of first place. The Knights, who are 4-4 overall, need only to win next week at Pickens to clinch the program a state playoff berth in its first year of postseason eligibility.
For all the excitement of what River Ridge may have to come, it could have disappeared had Brock Harris not connected for a 23-yard field goal as time expired Friday.
“It was a very nerve-racking situation,” River Ridge coach Robert Braucht said of the Knights’ last-second win. “I hated it, but it’s great for the kids, because it showed them how to persevere. For them to come through in a circumstance like that was huge.”
After defeating Forsyth Central 47-14, Creekview (7-1, 4-0) cemented its spot as the top-seeded team in Region 7AAAAA’s northern subregion and will host the fourth-seeded team from the other half of the region in two weeks for a shot at the state playoffs.
“It feels great to be the top seed in the subregion,” Creekview coach Al Morrell said. “We are very excited by the opportunity we have. We can’t wait to move forward and have the chance to make it back to the playoffs.”
Hot on Creekview’s heels in the subregion is Sequoyah (5-3, 3-1), which defeated Northview 58-48 to guarantee the second seed for the region play-in game.
Accounting for more than half of Sequoyah’s total yards was running back Blake Ingleton, who rushed for a career-high 388 yards on 34 carries and scored five touchdowns.
Sequoyah and Northview combined for 106 points, which made their contest Friday the highest-scoring game that any team from the county has been involved in all year. It was eight points more than when Creekview beat Northview 56-42 two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Cherokee’s losing streak increased to six as it lost 34-6 at Roswell to drop to 1-7 and 0-5 in Region 5AAAAAA.