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Class A shakes out in final weeks

Class A Public Power Poll
School        Region    Record    Ranking
1. Marion County    4-A     9-0     15.42
2. Charlton County     2-A     8-1     14.24
3. Hawkinsville     4-A     9-1     14.06
4. Irwin County     2-A     7-1     13.83
5. Commerce     8-A     7-2     13.22
6. ECI        3-A     8-1     12.60
7. Claxton         3-A     6-3     12.39
8. Mt. Zion, Carroll     6-A     6-3     11.84
9. Dooly County     4-A     6-3     11.82
10. Lincoln County     7-A     6-3     11.23
11. Calhoun County     1-A     6-3     11.14
12. Greenville     4-A     5-4     11.11
13. Clinch County     2-A     5-4     11.07
14. Telfair County     2-A     6-3     11.05
15. Jenkins County     3-A     6-3     10.94
16. Atkinson County     2-A     5-4     10.77
18. Johnson County     3-A     5-4     10.26
26. Portal         3-A     2-7     8.22
28. Montgomery Co.    3-A     2-6     7.42
33. Treutlen     3-A     1-8     6.57
37. Wheeler County     3-A     1-8     5.99

    The NCAA Bowl Championship Series — comprised of its various polls and computer rankings — is now a thing of the past, but an equally confusing postseason selection algorithm is still alive and well in Georgia.
    While the top five classifications in GHSA fill out their playoff brackets by taking the top four teams from each of eight regions, Class A — now divided into public and private sub-classifications — is in its third season of selecting the 16 teams for each state playoff bracket via a power poll that doesn’t consider regions.
    Even as coaches and athletic directors have become a bit more comfortable with figuring out the complicated ratings system, there are so many balls up in the air until the final scores from the last week of the season are posted that it is nearly impossible to tell where a team will land until the final poll comes out.
    Following that, there is also a window to dispute rankings that has often delayed the state brackets from being set.
    But as for area teams involved in the process, the main goal is to get one final win to put their best foot forward before the final rankings come out.
    One team that desperately needs a win is Portal.
    The Panthers currently sit at 2-7 and would already be making offseason plans in most regions, but a win over a Class AAA team — which awards bonus power ranking points — earlier this season and the opportunity to beat another Class AAA team this week when Toombs County comes calling offers Portal the faintest sliver of hope.
    “We’re focused on winning against a pretty talented Toombs team,” Portal coach Jon Willoughby said. “Other than that, we’re big fans of all the other teams we’ve played. Any win they get can help us out.”
    Portal currently sits at 26th in the poll, but is just 2.5 points shy of the final playoff spot.
    “It’s too much to concern ourselves with right now,” Willoughby said. “All we can do is win and hope things turn out for us.”
    Claxton has stumbled against private school powers Calvary Day and Savannah Christian in its last two games. While losses never help, the high ratings of both schools have kept the Tigers sitting in the seventh spot in the public school rankings.
    No matter what happens in Claxton’s game at Johnson County this week, the Tigers are all but assured of a second consecutive trip to the state playoffs.
    Of course, a win could make the road a bit easier.
    “The big goal is to get one of those top eight spots,” Claxton coach Roderick Williams said. “That will get us a home game in the first round and that would be a first for Claxton since 2001. I think that would be big for us financially and for the support for our team. It would do a lot to keep our program rolling forward.”
    Like Claxton, Emanuel County Institute is headed for the postseason, but at their current spot at No. 6 no home game is guaranteed until the final poll comes out.
    One area team trying to hang on is Jenkins County.
    Despite a 6-3 record —the same as Claxton — the Eagles sit at No. 15 and might miss out on the postseason altogether without a win against Wheeler County this week. Jenkins County has played well and racked up wins, but poor records of its opponents has hurt the Eagles’ overall score while teams with worse records — but better opponents — are trying to advance.
    The final power poll of the season will be released Nov. 11. There will be a window for disputes and all issues will be resolved before the public and private school playoff brackets are released next week.
    The first round for both sub-classifications will begin Nov. 21.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.