The first weekend of the season offers some interesting games, many of them between teams in different classifications. Nothing is really at stake, other than bragging rights, and what the outcome means a lot to the people in the stands.
Here are five games involving Class AAA schools that are worth keeping an eye on this weekend.
Cedar Grove vs. Tucker (Hallford Stadium): This game will be a showcase for two good quarterbacks. Cedar Grove quarterback Jonathan McCrary, a Vanderbilt commit, threw for 2,643 yards last year. Juwaan Williams (who has scheduled a recruiting visit to Oregon) helped the Tigers win a state championship and go 15-0 for the first time in school history. This is the ninth meeting in the series, which Tucker leads 7-1. Cedar Grove’s only victory was 30-27 in 1999. Cedar Grove starts its 10th season under coach Ray Bonner, while Tucker has a new head coach in Bryan Lamar.
Westminster at Blessed Trinity: This may be the biggest rivalry game of the week. Westminster leads the series 6-2, but Blessed Trinity won last year’s game 21-14 to break a five game-losing streak to the Wildcats. Westminster has been to the playoffs for five straight seasons and reached the second round last year before being ousted by Dublin. Blessed Trinity had a breakthrough last year under veteran coach Tim McFarlin when the Titans went 7-5 (two of the losses were against mighty Buford) and advanced to the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Lamar County. Blessed Trinity has 16 returning starters, including running back Jordan Denson; he ran for 117 yards against Westminster a year ago.
Fitzgerald at Jefferson County: This is the first meeting between two of the more consistent teams in middle Georgia. Jerry Arnold has taken eight straight Jefferson County teams to the state playoffs. Jeffco graduated 1,000-yard rusher Dontavious Kitchens, but has a speedy replacement in Cartabius Quarterman. Fitzgerald has gone to the playoffs for 12 straight years and has double-digit wins for eight consecutive seasons. Fitzgerald welcomes new coach Jason Strickland, who takes over for Robby Pruitt, who took the head coaching position at Coffee.
Washington County at Eagle’s Landing Christian: ELCA has won 12 games in each of the last two seasons, but faces a more ambitious schedule this time around, starting with longtime state powerhouse Washington County. This is the first meeting between the two schools. If ELCA can compete with the Golden Hawks, it could be a long season for the other schools in the otherwise lightweight Region 5-A. Washington County has an exceptional quarterback in William Walker (1,517 yards passing, 16 TDs) and a top prospect lineman in Michael Selby. ELCA breaks in new QB Dalton Etheridge, but returns four preseason all-state players.
Heard County at Callaway: This regional rivalry, dubbed the “Pulpwood Classic,” has been contested in 14 of the last 16 seasons. Callaway holds an 8-6 advantage and has won three of the last four games, including 35-13 a year ago. The Cavaliers have had five consecutive winning seasons under coach Michael Wiggins and reached the state quarterfinals in 2009. Heard has compiled eight straight winning seasons under coach Tim Barron, but the Braves haven’t gotten past the first round of the playoffs since 2006. The player to watch is Callaway cornerback/running back Cortez Leonard, a recent transfer from Troup.