Football season is finally here. Yes, it’s time to heat up the stadium lights across North Fulton for three months of action packed Friday Nights. For me that means my first fall covering football in the area which is exciting, but also a daunting task as I try to cover the ins-and-outs of 13 individual programs — some that will kick things off for the first time this year and others that have been doing this football thing since well before I was born.
Anyhow, during the season I’ll do my best to cover each team as much as possible. In the days leading up to each game, I’ll provide a preview like this (read below) of each contest, sort of as a primer for that’s to come. Then I’ll have a recap of each game in our print edition the following Wednesday, along with features sprinkled in from week-to-week on select programs.
For week 1 we have just five games, but plenty of excitement as two teams take the field in primetime, another takes on an archrival, and two Class A schools continue to lay the foundation for a successful future.
Below is a little glimpse of what to expect in each game and my take on what to expect in each contest.
*I’m a day late with the Johns Creek game, but I’ll include my pregame write-up anyway.
Johns Creek (9-2 in 2011) at Woodstock (4-6 in 2011)
A Thursday Night TV special, Johns Creek and Woodstock will have the night to themselves as they kickoff the 2012 season as the first game of the season statewide.
The Gladiators enter the game with high expectations and a slew of three and four year starters returning from a team that went 9-2 last season. Woodstock comes off a 4-6 season, but that record can be quite deceiving. The Wolverines were 4-1 heading into the second half of the season before injuries to their first, second, and third string quarterbacks sent them spiraling towards a 0-5 finish.
Both teams will feature the run quite a bit this season, and in games like this the team that makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins the game.
My take – Gladiators are road warriors in week 1, start 1-0
Blessed Trinity (7-5 in 2011) vs. Westminster (7-5 in 2011)
A growing rivalry in metro-Atlanta, Blessed Trinity and Westminster are two of the premier private schools in the state when it comes to athletics. On the gridiron, the Wildcats hold a 6-2 advantage over BT, but the Titans got the best of the Atlanta school last fall 21-14.
With 16 starters back for Blessed Trinity, the Titans will have experience on their side for this one while Westminster breaks in a brand new backfield.
My take – First to 20 wins, BT gets there in a slugfest
St Francis (1-2-1 in 2011) vs. Prince Avenue Christian (13-1 in 2011)
Year one of varsity football brings a lot of excitement to St. Francis, but also one of the state’s best Class A teams to their home field in week 1. Prince Avenue was a state semifinalist a year ago and enters 2012 as a top 10 team once again, presenting a daunting test for a St. Francis team with just one varsity win on their resume.
My take – There are more wins in the Knights future, but not in week 1
Mt. Pisgah Christian (4-6 in 2011) vs. Mount Vernon (4-7 in 2011)
Pisgah opens the season against Mount Vernon Presbyterian, a school transitioning into their first year of GHSA football. At the GISA level, the Mustangs qualified for the state playoffs behind the play of All-State quarterback Elijah Burnette, a rising junior that captains a high powered spread offense.
The Patriots will debut a no-huddle spread offense of their own tonight so look for some fireworks in the season opener at Patriot Athletic Park.
My take — Back and forth game for four quarters, but I’ll take Pisgah in a week one shootout
Chattahoochee (10-2 in 2011) vs. Kell (9-3 in 2011) — Ga. Dome
Kell and ‘Hooch kick things off at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning in the Georgia Dome. The game is one of five matchups in the dome on Saturday and pits two rising state powers in Georgia.
Placed in AAAA for the last two years, the two schools saw similar runs of success in 2010 and 2011, both going undefeated through the regular season in 2010 and tying for first place in their respective regions in 2011.
The 2012 teams head into the game with expectations of continuing that level of success. ‘Hooch will go to battle with their all-to-familiar speedy spread offense and Kell will match that offense with one of the most athletic secondary’s in Georgia.
But I think this one comes down to the Hooch D against the Kell O. If Chattahoochee can match the defensive performance of their scrimmage — holding defending state champion Tucker to 14 points — they have a great shot to start the season off with a Georgia Dome victory.
My take — Hooch scores late to win a nail biter