It is a little early for week one predictions, but football season is here. A few teams in the two-state area open their 2012 campaigns this weekend. Most of our county teams have a little more prep time, but I figured I would give you a quick preview of the openers for each team.
Augusta Christian at Wilson Hall
The Lions finished 8-4 a year ago. One of those losses was a 27-20 heartbreaker to Wilson Hall. Keith Walton’s squad will be thinking revenge as they kick off the 2012 season. The Lions were a playoff team in 2011 and should be again this year.
Greenbrier vs. Cross Creek
This is a match-up of 5-5 teams from a year ago. Greenbrier enters play in Region 2-AAAAA under first-year head coach Kevin Hunt. His only other head coaching experience was with Cross Creek. The ’Pack must replace standout running back Jahvon Hardrick and star defensive back Thomas Brown. It could be tough going in Class AAAAA – not good for a team looking for their first winning season since 2003. Cross Creek surprised many with their 5-5 mark a year ago. They were a combined 6-24 the previous three seasons.
Aug. 30 (Thursday)
Evans at Richmond Academy
The Evans Knights are coming off a 3-7 season, but started more than a dozen talented underclassmen who become team leaders this year. Head coach Marty Jackson is entering his 10th season and looking to getting back to winning. Prior to last year the Knights had gone 33-11 from 2007-10. Richmond Academy was 0-10 in 2007 in Chris Hughes’ first season, but has not had a losing season since. This game will be televised live by WJBF News Channel 6 on Comcast Channel 380 and Knology Channel 246.
Augusta Prep at Bethlehem Christian Academy
The Cavaliers went 6-4 last year, impressive for a team playing its first full season of prep football. One of those victories was a 35-7 trouncing of Bethlehem Christian Academy. With most of its key players returning this year, Augusta Prep should be able to start the season off on a positive note.
Harlem vs. Georgia Military College
The Bulldogs finished a disappointing 0-10 last year and are hoping a move to 3-AA will help them be more competitive. They are looking for their first winning season since 2003. Georgia Military College has turned things around under fourth-year head coach Brad Owens. From 2003-08 GMC was a dismal 10-50. Since Owens arrived the team has steadily improved, finishing 3-7 in 2009, 5-5 in 2010 and 7-3 last season.
Lakeside vs. Statesboro
The Panthers went 6-5 and made the playoffs last year, but the team lost star quarterback Mark Weidenaar and 1,300-yard rusher Johnathan Long.
The Panthers also lost a half-dozen starters from last year’s stingy defense. Couple that with another extremely difficult schedule and Panther fans will need to be patient with third-year head coach Jarret Troxler’s team this year.
The team does have several exciting young players, led by junior running back/wide receiver Jonathan Edwards. Statesboro is coming off a 10-1 season – its 13th consecutive winning season. Head coach Steve Pennington is an impressive 83-18 since taking over the Blue Devils program.
I will have my predictions for the games each Wednesday beginning next week.