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Lawrence County (3-6, 1-3) at Spring Hill (4-5, 1-3), 7 p.m. Friday*

Friday’s matchup between the Spring Hill Raiders and Lawrence County Wildcats will determine who will make it to the Class 4A playoffs as the fourth seed in Region 4.

The Raiders looked like a lock to make the postseason through five games. They had a 4-1 record and were sailing by teams with a dynamic offense.

Over the last four contests, though, their offense has cooled and it has led to four-straight losses.

After averaging 38.8 points per game through its first five contests, Spring Hill scored just 26.75 in its last four games, including 42 in a 43-42 loss to Lipscomb Academy last week.

While the Raider offense has cooled some as of late due to injuries, running back Dontae Smith (1,539 rushing yards, 16 total TDs) has not. The junior had his best outingo f the season in a losing effort last week, racking up 254 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.

Spring Hill will lean on Smith to guide the offense, but defensively it has to find an answer and figure out a way to get some stops. The Raider defense has struggled all season, giving up 35.5 points per game, and their flaws were especially exposed during their four-game skid. Over that span they’ve given up 48 points per game.

If the Raiders can find a way to get by Lawrence County, which is currently tied with Spring Hill at 1-3 in the region, they will make it to the playoffs after failing to last season.

They beat the Wildcats 35-21 last season.

Summit (6-3, 4-2) at Columbia (0-9, 0-6), 7 p.m. Friday*

The Summit Spartans have one game separating them from their first-ever playoff appearance.

The Spartans have already clinched a berth in the Class 5A postseason, but a victory Friday over winless Columbia could also mean Summit’s first playoff game will be at home.

Their final tune-up of the regular season could be exactly what the Spartans need to catapult them into the playoffs. Columbia goes into Friday without a win and with one of the worst defenses Summit has seen this season.

Summit RB Tai Carter
Summit RB Tai Carter

The Lions give up an average of 48.5 points per game to opponents. That will mean the Spartans, led by running back Tai Carter (1,129 rushing yards, 12 TDs), should be licking their chops.

Columbia’s offense hasn’t been much better than its defense this season. The Lions average just 16 points per game, and could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Summit’s defense.

After giving up just 21 points over a three-game winning streak, the Spartans fell 38-13 against Stewarts Creek last week.

The last game of the best regular season in Summit history could be just the pickup the Spartans need before entering their first postseason.

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