It's hard to believe, but we are only 33 days away from the kickoff of the 2003 high-school football season in Columbia County.
Augusta Christian, led by speedy senior tailback Cole Rabun, gets things started with a game Aug. 22 at Briarwood Academy.
Although neither the Lions or the Harlem Bulldogs play any other county football teams this season, it's almost an unwritten rule that Columbia County bragging rights are decided by the outcomes of head-to-head matchups featuring Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside.
We won't have to wait long to find out who is king of the gridiron in Columbia County this season. In two months, the unofficial county champion will be crowned.
On Aug. 29, Evans takes on Greenbrier in the season opener at Blanchard Stadium. Two weeks later, the Knights travel to Panther Stadium to square off with bitter rival Lakeside.
Finally, on Sept. 19 it's the battle at the Brierpatch, where Lakeside and Greenbrier will play a Region 3-AAAA contest.
In the county wars, the Wolfpack, Panthers and Knights each will have one home game in the head-to-head meetings, and all three teams have something to prove.
Last season, Greenbrier could have been a playoff team with a couple of breaks in close losses, but the Pack settled for a 4-6 record, which included victories over Lakeside and Evans.
Greenbrier lost 12 seniors from last year's team, but quarterback Brooks Robinson returns, as does rising star J.C. Jennings and massive lineman Rashad Dunn.
Evans and Lakeside, meanwhile, combined for two wins in 2002, and both were claimed by the Knights.
Evans has to replace quarterback Travis Clark (who transferred to Lincoln County), and the Knights also must learn a new system under first-year head coach Marty Jackson.
Lakeside has some good young players, must will have to replace some key offensive linemen. Still, the Panthers probably won't post an 0-10 record this season.
Region titles and playoff appearances are important for every prep football team, but another goal is shared by Greenbrier, Lakeside and Evans: to go 2-0 against Columbia County foes this year.
If one of those three can manage a county sweep, that squad could really have a big turnaround this fall.
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