Many have predicted the winner of tonight's Laney-Washington County matchup in Sandersville will go on to capture the Region 3-AAA title.
That said, Golden Hawks coach Rick Tomberlin says it is premature to declare tonight's winner the region champ.
After all, it is the region opener for both teams.
"I think they're basing all that on the talent that Laney has this year and the reputation that we have," Tomberlin said. "I think there are some very good teams in this region. There are other teams that are going to have a say in this matter."
Unbeaten Laney (4-0) has outscored Butler, Josey, Hancock Central and Lithonia 168-19, four teams that have a combined 3-14 record.
Washington County (3-1) hasn't won a region title since 1997, also the last time the Golden Hawks won a state title.
The Golden Hawks' only loss was a 7-6 shocker to Johnson County in the season's second week. Since then, Washington County has beaten state power Mary Persons 13-10 and routed Putnam County 34-0.
Laney's speed has Tomberlin concerned.
"I think we're going to be in the mix (for the region title), and I think that Laney is certainly going to be a major player," Tomberlin said. "It may turn out in Game 9 or Game 10 that we both look back and say that (tonight's) game was for the region championship. That's kind of like saying that Florida played Tennessee for the SEC championship (two weeks ago).
"We've got to look at it as it's the first region game, an important game against a talented group of athletes that have played together for three years with a great coaching staff. We've got the challenge of our life to play with them."
The biggest game tonight in Region 3-AAAA pits Greenbrier against Hephzibah. After an 0-2 start, the Rebels have reeled off two straight region victories, including last week's 29-7 thumping of rival Butler.
You won't find Hephzibah coach Bill Navas getting caught up in the hype. The second-year coach is worried about Greenbrier's passing attack
"We praised our kids for the way they played Lincoln County (the first game of the year)," Navas said. "But then they played poorly the next week and lost to West Laurens. We've worked them hard the last two weeks and we're dealing with how they're going to respond to success."
NO TIME FOR SORROW:
Swainsboro quickly had to forget about last week's loss to Screven County, considering the Tigers face highly touted Effingham County tonight.
The Rebels' lone loss this season is a 27-0 setback to Appling County -- ranked second in the latest poll -- two weeks ago.
Even though it's still early, Swainsboro, Effingham County, Screven County and Savannah Christian enter tonight with 2-1 Region 2-AAA records and are tied for second place, one game behind Appling County.
Washington County is 28-4 at the "House of Pain" dating to the 1996 season. ... Statesboro, tonight's opponent for Glenn Hills, has outscored its past two opponent 67-0. ... Three area schools -- Lakeside, Westside and Jenkins County -- are idle this week.
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.