High school football heated up last week as region play started across the state. After just one week, one of the area regions appears to be wide open.
Class 4A, Region 7 was top heavy last season with North Jackson going undefeated while boasting a scoring average of 56.4 points per game.
Danville proved last week that the region standings will look a little different. The Hawks beat North Jackson 20-7.
“We pulled an upset,” Danville coach Shannon McGregory said. “It throws some wrinkles in what people thought. On paper, people predict things. Now, they have to look back at it and say, ‘Who knows?’ ”
Danville’s win snapped a 12-game losing streak. Danville’s last region win came on Oct. 21, 2016. It also gave McGregory his first win as head coach.
Region 7 is made up of North Jackson, D.A.R., Randolph, St. John Paul II, Fairview, West Morgan, Priceville and Danville.
North Jackson wasn’t the only Region 7 playoff team from last year to lose, either. Priceville beat St. John Paul II 43-29. The Falcons finished second in the region last season and only lost to North Jackson and Randolph.
St. John Paul also beat Priceville by 10 points last season. Things have already changed just a week into region play.
“For us, that first win was as important as it being our first region game,” Priceville coach Chris Foster said. “The kids and fans wanted to see success as soon as they possibly could.”
It looks like any of the teams that missed the playoffs last season have a shot. Fairview, which brought back a lot of starters from last year’s team, beat D.A.R by 21. D.A.R. finished third in the region last season.
Even a team like West Morgan came close to upsetting one of last year’s playoff teams. The Rebels lost to Randolph by only seven points, with the Raiders taking the lead late in the fourth quarter. Randolph was the fourth playoff team out of Region 7.
West Morgan has an opportunity to pick up a region win this week.
The Rebels host Danville. Their only region win last season was against the Hawks.
“The scores of the first set of region games kind of show that anybody can get beat on any night,” West Morgan coach Mikel Riggs said. “We just have to own up on our end of it.”
Danville traveling to West Morgan has suddenly become a big game after last week’s results, too. Last year, it was a matchup of bottom feeders with the two teams finishing seventh and eighth in the standings.
A Danville win would give them a second region win and position the Hawks to compete for a playoff spot. A West Morgan win would put it right back in the mix.
“Our region is wide open. Last week showed that it is wide open,” Riggs said. “I don’t think there is anybody that is head and shoulders above everybody else like there has been in the past.”
Priceville’s game against Randolph also becomes important. The Bulldogs looked dominant on the ground last week with junior Jerry Burton and senior Jaxon Cross both rushing for more than 150 yards.
Priceville could match their region win total from last season.
“It makes for better football games,” Foster said. “Any time you have teams with a similar level of athletes, it makes for better quality football games. It makes for exciting football.”
All three area teams in Region 7 have a chance to earn a playoff spot. With six region games left to play, nothing has been decided.