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Strap it on, whoop it up; 3AA play begins in earnest

So far the ride has been smooth and easy with very, very few bumps.
In fact, I can really think of but one real bump in the road so far. The drive is about to get a little tougher.
But, while the drive so far has been all about practice; about getting to this point ready to go with a full tank of gas and plenty of experience, Friday night the drive gets serious.
Now the destination is the postseason football playoffs and maybe a repeat as region champ.
Looking into the numbers (remember that numbers can be deceptive) this drive is going to be very, very bumpy.
Right now there are nine unbeaten teams in all of the GHSA Class AA.
Three of those nine reside in the friendly confines of Region 3AA. SCHS, Dublin, and East Laurens are folks we know. Then there are Fitzgerald from 1AA; Benedictine of 2AA; Pace Academy and Wesleyan of 6AA; Darlington of 7AA; and Union County of 8AA.
According to the Maxwell computers, Benedictine (75.6 percent) and Fitzgerald (45.1 percent) have the best chance of remaining unbeaten. Close to home Dublin has a 14.4 percent chance; we have a 3.8 percent chance, and East Laurens has a 0.0 percent chance.
Are we that good or are they that bad?
We have been asking that question since the 57-6 blowout of St. John’s back on Aug. 21. Are they asking that question in Dublin and East Dublin? In at least one of those places. they really should be asking that question. On Oct. 16, those teams meet at Falcon Field. Will it be 7-0 Dublin vs. 6-0 East Laurens in the de facto Region 3AA championship? If nothing else that would mean that East Laurens bested us the previous week in our own Hall of Fame Game. Naw!
Right now hope springs eternal for all seven teams in 3AA. Heck Harlem is coming off a resounding 41-7 whipping of Glascock and heads to Swainsboro this week with renewed vigor. Right now the slate is clean for everyone. Our 4-0 means as much as Harlem’s 1-3 when it comes to region standings.
So what do the numbers show?
Based on cumulative records against opponents played, the Maxwell ratings (boy the Georgia High School Football Daily makes all of this so much fun) say our Region 3AA is the fourth toughest of the eight in AA. We are behind 6, 1, and 2 in that order. What do our opponents look like in their own respective standings?
Swainsboro opponents have won 63 percent of their games and that is tops in the region. Beyond that are Jefferson County at 47 percent; Metter at 43 percent;, us and Harlem at 33 percent; Dublin at 27 percent; and East Laurens at 13 percent. The opposition that has helped the Falcons accrue a 4-0 mark have a combined record of 2-13.
Anyway in the region’s opening week far and away the best matchup is 2-2 Jefferson County’s Warriors at the 4-0 Screven County Gamecocks. A year ago the records were identical and Jeffco was the favorite. The 12-7 SCHS victory proved to be the region difference in first and second place in the region as both teams went on to 5-1 records.
Will it be the title maker again? I don’t know, but I do know that the title will not be decided at Falcon Field on Oct. 16.
I am certainly giving the nod here to our Gamecocks and not because of a last-minute TD drive this time. Our defense will be the difference.
We finally match up speed-wise with the high-powered Jeffco offense. Make no mistake about it -- Jefferson County is the best team we have played and the fastest team we have played. They most definitely, unlike anyone we have played so far, can beat us. Just watch them on film.
The other pair of region games, East Laurens is open, will be afterthoughts.
Harlem at 1-3 goes to Swainsboro at 2-2 and sees its one-game winning streak ended. Their reward for traveling to Swainsboro this week is to host us next week.
Metter at 3-1 goes to Dublin at 4-0. Metter, who has played Class AA Bryan County (who has never won a playoff game in its history) and three Class A’s, will find the going too tough in the Shamrock Bowl.
Now that we begin, what is the order at the finish line going to be? Well that good old Maxwell computer says Dublin, Swainsboro, SCHS, and Jefferson County in that order (on second thought maybe that computer will make us the favorite Friday night).
What do I think? I can see of no reason that we cannot repeat as 3AA champions. A lot of things can happen between now and the first week of the state playoffs on Nov. 13.We did win the region last year and did not even show up at the Shamrock Bowl when we lost to the eventual No. 4 seed Irish 27-7.
Anyway … as former SCHS head coach Mark Daniel and his staff said throughout the entire 2002 season, 4-0 and one to go. That is all we can do.

Burton Kemp Jr. is a contributing writer for the Sylvania Telephone.