Three local teams — the Wayne Gardner-coached Spalding High girls, the Jerry Fields-coached Griffin High girls and Scott Henderson-coached Spalding High boys — will be in action when the state high school soccer playoffs open this week.
Third-seeded Griffin (11-2) will be the first to see action, traveling to Leesburg, Ga., to take on second-seeded Lee County (15-2-1) in an opening-round Class AAAA match 5:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Griffin has won two in a row and three of its last four, the lone loss, 2-1, coming to Class AAA No. 10-state ranked Spalding in a non-region match. Griffin, however, lost a three-way tie for first in Region 4-AAAA and ended the region’s third seed.
Lee County, meanwhile, had a 14-match win streak snapped in its last match — for the Region 1-AAAA championship —a 4-3 loss (3-2 PKs) on April 20 to Class AAA No. 9-state ranked Thomas County Central — a team Lee County defeated 2-1 and 3-0 earlier this season.
SPALDING HIGH BOYS: The next local team scheduled to see action is the Spalding boys team. The fourth-seeded Jags (9-7) are scheduled to play 6 p.m., Thursday at Region 1-AAA champion Cairo (7-4-2), though SHS athletic director Jeff Hyland said they are trying to get the game moved to Friday because of the 300-mile trip (three hours and 24 minutes by MapQuest standards) on a school night.
Spalding had to win its regular season finale, 1-0, against Eagle’s Landing on April 19 to qualify for the playoffs after losing three of four Region 4-AAA matches down the stretch.
Cairo, meanwhile, breezed through Region 1-AAA play going 7-0 to gain the region’s top seed.
Both teams have a history, Spalding eliminating Cairo 5-0 in the first round of the 2007 playoffs and Cairo eliminated Spalding 5-0 in the second round of the 2009 state playoffs.
SPALDING HIGH GIRLS: The only home match locally this week will be 6 p.m., Friday when the Class AAA No. 10-state ranked Spalding High girls host Peach County.
The second-seeded Spalding High girls, which just climbed back in the state rankings after being out of them most of the season, have won two in a row and 10 of 11 heading into Friday’s match. Their lone loss during that stretch was 1-0 April 15 against Region 4-AAA champion and No. 4-state ranked Woodward Academy.
Region 1-AAA third-seeded Peach County (9-6-1), meanwhile, had a four-match unbeaten streak snapped when its lost its last match 5-1 April 20 against Perry.