Football is back. The season is upon us in the Peach State, and this is after one of the longest offseasons ever. After the loss of spring sports, and spring football, it was a question if we would even reach this point. But with just a few nights before our Friday lights, here are the games we’re looking forward to watching on opening night.
Warner Robins @ Valdosta
The Demons are one of the most talented teams in the state of Georgia, reaching three straight state championship games. They’re run by a well-balanced team and a stud at quarterback in Jalen Addie, and they boast a lot of big-game experience. Traveling to Bazmore-Hyder Stadium won’t faze this group by any means.
On the flip side is the home team, the Valdosta Wildcats. The winningest high school team ever has a roster filled with stars. With three Division I wide receivers, a star running back, multiple big-time defensive players, and new quarterback Jake Garcia, many people in Winnersville are thinking of a state championship. Let’s see how they perform in Week 1.
Tift County @ Crisp County
These two teams are looking to prove themselves, and this game offers an interesting opportunity to see a small school versus big school. Tift County is a strong 7A program that struggled last season, playing in the best region in high school football in the state. They will look to get off the block early with a win behind a defense that should be much improved, led by star defensive end Tyre West. He’s a lot to handle on the line, and it could be a matchup problem for the Cougars.
Crisp County reached the state championship game last season after a slow start, and they return 19 starters from that finalist roster. This team is deep, experienced, and dangerous. They’re led by Marquise Palmer at running back and A.J. Lofton at quarterback in an athletic backfield. Meanwhile, the defense could be the best among all small schools in the state with multiple top-level recruits, including safety Sirad Bryant. This game will be a fun gauge of how much of a difference the school population makes on performance.
Carrollton @ Collins Hill
Another team with a lot of hype, the Carrollton Trojans look like a strong competitor out of their new look 6A classification. This team is loaded on defense, led by one of the best linebacker groups in the state with Chaz Chambliss, Chief Borders, and Jared Nedd. They also had a bit of a quarterback carousel in the offseason: Star M.J. Morris transferred to PACE Academy, but Carrollton brought in a talented quarterback in James McCauley out of New York. The Trojans are dangerous, and they’ll look to prove it Saturday night.
Collins Hill is another talented team that will look to bounce back after a frustrating 2019 season. Travis Hunter, their superstar wide receiver and cornerback, was named as ITG Next’s top player in the ITG Next 100. He does it all for the Eagles and has a talented quarterback throwing to him in Sam Horn. This team can be explosive and should test that talented Trojan defense.
Allatoona @ Harrison
A rematch of the state championship game should create some excitement, as Allatoona will look to exact some revenge on Harrison. The Hoyas lose a lot of talent from their roster that won it all but still have talented wide receivers in James Ziglor III and Marques Owens. They also have standout linebacker Marcus Bleazard returning. The Hoyas may be depleted, but they are still a contender with their move up to 7A.
Allatoona put up a valiant effort to get to the state championship game, and now they want to show Harrison that they can play. They lose a lot of talent as well, but the offense should once again be loaded, led by a secondary that creates a lot of turnovers. Brett Blomquist, who had seven interceptions last season, will lead the way.
North Oconee @ Oconee County
These are two more teams with big aspirations. North Oconee has an incredibly talented quarterback in Bubba Chandler. The Clemson commit finished his junior season with 2,603 yards and 31 touchdowns. In the battle for county supremacy, he’ll be the player that the Titans rely on.
Oconee County comes off of their own state championship game appearance and also moves down to the 3A classification. They’re one of the favorites to compete for a state championship, led by one of the best tight ends in the state in Jake Johnson and wide receiver and safety West Weeks. This will be a great game to start the opening weekend.
Written by: Kyle Grondin