By Michael Alpert
For the AJC
Most football teams kick off the season next week, but Friday marks the first game for many.
Everyone’s winless, but don’t expect timidity. Everyone’s also undefeated.
An initial win is vital for momentum. Not that a loss can’t be overcome, but as coaches will tell you, a solid first step makes a big difference.
These initial matchups might not count in region, but certainly, there’ll be no shortage of excitement. After a long, hot preseason, players undoubtedly are eager to begin cracking heads with opponents, instead of teammates.
Here’s a half dozen games to keep an eye on as 14 Class AA teams swing into action Friday and three others do Saturday:
– No. 9 Westminster at Blessed Trinity, Friday: Westminster coach Gerry Romberg, whose 21 seasons are the second most in the classification, leads his Wildcats up a class to face the Titans in the teams’ ninth meeting. Westminster had won five times consecutively, before Blessed Trinity’s 21-14 victory in last year’s Region 6-AA matchup.
– Clinch County at No. 3 Brooks County, Friday: The Region 1-AA Trojans step down a classification to host Clinch, but have their work cut out against a team that has five championships and at least eight quarterfinal appearances in the last 11 seasons.
– Stone Mountain at No. 8 Greater Atlanta Christian, Friday: Flip a coin here. The teams have never met, though they’re only six miles away as the crow flies.
– No. 7 Lovett at Woodward Academy, Friday: This first matchup between these teams in three years will give one bragging rights, breaking an 8-8 record between them.
– Laney at Strom Thurmond (S.C.), Friday: The Wildcats are the class’ only team venturing out of state, but nowhere unknown. Laney has played its South Carolina opponent six times, losing to it in the last two season openers.
– Bremen vs. Alexander, Saturday: The Blue Devils can’t be shy in University of West Georgia’s inaugural Kickoff Classic, as they leap two classifications in an attempt to break a 1-1 career mark against Alexander.