Dalton's misfortune is someone else's opportunity.
The Catamounts, forced to forfeit four games -- including two Region 7A-AAA wins -- Wednesday after the GHSA ruled the program was playing an ineligible player, went from a guaranteed shot at the region championship to needing help just to make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Ridgeland and Heritage, the two subregion teams gaining victories, saw their immediate football futures change with the ruling. Three-time region champion Ridgeland (4-0 in league play) now will have a shot to defend that title once again next week at Allatoona.
Heritage, one of three 2-2 teams vying for the second and third seeds from the A subregion, was shut out of playoff contention until the ruling. Now, the Generals can lock up a spot with a win over Ridgeland on Friday. The regular season subregion champions are guaranteed to host a first round playoff game, while the second and third seeds from each subregion will meet next week, with the winners earning playoff berths.
"I hate to get a win that way," Heritage head coach Tim James said Wednesday, "but I'm not giving it back. We have a shot now to make it, but we have a big hurdle to clear in Ridgeland, a team that has gotten better each week and is playing its best ball."
Meanwhile, Dalton needs to defeat Southeast Whitfield and hope Ridgeland tops Heritage. In that scenario, the Catamounts would earn the second seed in 7A-AAA. The winner of Friday's LaFayette-Ringgold game will earn either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. Dalton, due to forfeiting Class AAA games against Gilmer County and Murray County, can not win a three-way tiebreaker in which each team defeated the other.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...