Posted: Tuesday, August 19th 2014 at 9:33pm
Seven contests highlight opening weekend of high school football
By Morgan Lee Editor
Buford's Joshua Thomas breaks through a hole during the 2013 season. Thomas will lead the Wolves into a showdown with defending Florida state champion Trinity Christian Academy at 9 p.m. Saturday in Buford. / photo: Brian Oliver
Here we are, the week when live high school football gets going.
What is known as “week zero” kicks off the 2014 campaign on Friday (and Saturday) -- and that includes a number of northeast Georgia squads.
Eight area teams will begin their seasons this weekend, including one all-area showdown, as Rabun County travels to face former region foe Jefferson on Friday. The Dragons and Wildcats battled into overtime last year during a Region 8-AA showdown, and though Jefferson has moved up to Class AAA this campaign, both teams feature plenty of talent -- like Wildcat athlete Charlie Woerner and Dragons playmaker TJ Skelton -- making for an intriguing early season game.
Johnson will also travel to Madison County, while Lumpkin County treks to Model and East Jackson plays host to Hebron Christian on Friday.
Meanwhile, three big battles are set for Saturday, including one that will feature on ESPN2, as part of the network’s High School Football Kickoff -- as Georgia’s 2013 Class AAA champ (Buford) plays host to Florida’s 2013 Class AAA champ (Trinity Christian Academy, Jacksonville, Fla.).
It’s the kind of contest that ought to have high school football fans drooling.
Both teams feature stacked rosters that know how to win at the highest levels. The Wolves -- who are gunning for their 11th state championship overall and 10th in 14 seasons -- feature a bevy of FBS recruits, including running back Joshua Thomas, linebacker Austin Smith, defensive tackle Shug Frazier and tight end Isaac Nauta.
The Conquerers, meanwhile, boast a roster that includes cornerback Kevin Toliver II (an LSU commit), outside linebacker Jeffrey Holland, lineman Kendrick Norton, running back Jalin Buie (Auburn commit) and safeties Ben Edwards and Deontai Williams.
The contest is part of a huge early season slate for Buford, which will also face Class AAAAAA preseason No. 1 McEachern on Sept. 5, and should have the Wolves well prepared for the rigors of Class AAAA after moving up to their highest-ever classification this offseason.
Speaking of McEachern, the Indians will take on another area team on Saturday when they play fourth-ranked North Gwinnett at 8:45 p.m. as part of the 2014 Corky Kell Classic.
The Bulldogs, which reached the 2013 Class AAAAAA championship contest -- defeating McEachern 27-21 en route (in the semifinals) -- are rebuilding their roster somewhat after graduating a number of standouts, but North Gwinnett has not won fewer than 10 contests in a season since 2005. Rebuilding certainly qualifies more as reloading in Suwanee.
The Indians will get to host the Kell contest at Cantrell Stadium -- as they will every game of the showcase -- due to a scheduling conflict with the Georgia Dome; the Atlanta Falcons have a home preseason game scheduled for Saturday.
Mill Creek will also take part in the Kell Classic, facing off with Colquitt County at 11:45 a.m. at Cantrell Stadium.
The Hawks fell short of the playoffs last year -- but were just a few plays away from reaching the postseason at 6-4 -- and are looking to get back to state.
Colquitt will present a great early season test for Mill Creek, as the Packers also reached the 2013 Class AAAAAA semifinals, playing eventual champ Norcross within 14-9.
It should make for some thrilling contests, and we can’t wait to see them kick off.
NOTES: Gainesville came in at No. 8 in Class AAAAA, and Jefferson No. 5 in Class AAA in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s preseason prep football rankings. No other area teams made their respective top 10s.
AREA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE, Aug. 22-23
FRIDAY, Aug. 22
Rabun County at Jefferson
Hebron Christian at East Jackson
Lumpkin County at Model
Johnson at Madison County
SATURDAY, Aug. 23
Mill Creek vs. Colquitt County at McEachern (Corky Kell Classic), 11:45 a.m.
North Gwinnett at McEachern (Corky Kell Classic), 8:45 p.m.
Trinity Christian at Buford, 9 p.m. on ESPN2
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