by Rob Grubbs
High school football is just right around the corner. With each team ramping up to their first real game, it is time to take a peek into the future and pick out some of the most enticing matchups in the upcoming season.
Here is a glimpse into the 2017 schedule with some of the most intriguing matchups each week:
August 18 – Creekside at Sandy Creek – For the first time since the 1998 season, there will not a Walker on the sidelines at The Battlefield in Tyrone. Head Coach Brett Garvin makes his debut against the always talent rich Creekside. The Seminoles will have a new first time coach as well, and one of them will walk off the field as a first time winner in this opener.
August 25 – The Chip Walker era at Newnan High School will begin as Coach Walker brings his Cougars to play the Starr’s Mill Panthers in the opener for both teams. Walker left Sandy Creek earlier in the year to re-energize Newnan after a disappointing 2016 campaign (3-7). The Panthers are coming off a playoff run in 2016 and will be a stern test for the 7-A Cougars from Coweta County.
September 1 – The Labor Day weekend kicks off with two interesting out of county matchups. Fayette County and Head Coach Mike Davis travel to Banneker to face the Trojans. The Tigers scored a convincing win last season and hope to repeat this performance to springboard them into a region contender. Meanwhile, Sandy Creek welcomes the Allatoona Buccaneers in a matchup of two teams that made it to the second round of the playoffs in 2016.
September 8 – The McIntosh Chiefs can use this Friday to see how ready they will be for upcoming region schedule by going on the road to play the Luella Lions from Henry County. The Lions qualified for the playoffs last season and beat the Chiefs 19-11. Coach Lee Belknap will look for revenge against a quality opponent.
September 15 – The week before region play begins will welcome the best in-county, out-of- region matchup as Starr’s Mill travels to Sandy Creek, who will be playing their fourth home game in a row. The Panthers have not beaten the Patriots since a 1999 game decided by the old GHSA penetration rules for tie game. They will look to reverse that trend.
September 22 – In 2016, the Riverdale Raiders qualified for the playoffs as the fourth seed. For the McIntosh Chiefs to have playoff aspirations in 2017, they will need to knock off the Raiders and get that first region win of the season. They get that chance on their home field.
September 29 – Last year against the Griffin Bears, 101 total points were scored as Starr’s Mill held on for a 52-49 win at Memorial Stadium. Though The Panthers have never lost to the Bears on the gridiron, they will be looking for a similar offensive output to assure their streak continues. Sandy Creek travels to LaGrange to play the Troup Tigers, looking to avenge last year’s lost between the two playoff teams.
October 6 – This night brings the first of two weeks in which there are two in county/region matchups (the other is November 3) as Whitewater travels to Starr’s Mill in a rematch of a game that included the wild finish in 2016. Both teams qualified for the playoffs last year, and this game has huge implications. The other game features McIntosh traveling to Fayette County in the county’s’ oldest rivalry as they face off for the 32nd time.
October 13 – Coach Garvin and his Patriots go on the road to face the defending state champion Cartersville Purple Hurricanes and the top rated quarterback in the nation, Trevor Lawrence who has committed to Clemson. It will take a special defensive game plan here to give the Patriots a key region win.
October 20 – Last season, Whitewater beat Riverdale 38-21 in a game which turned out to decide who would be the 3rd and 4th seeds in the playoffs. Coach Bryan Holley and the Wildcats welcome the Raiders to Wildcat Stadium this year, and the stakes will be high once again.
October 27 – For the second week in a row, Riverdale faces a county opponent who made the playoffs last season. This time Coach Chad Phillips takes the Panthers on the road to face off against the Raiders.
November 3 – The final week of the season, Starr’s Mill goes to Tiger Stadium to play Fayette County, while McIntosh travels to Wildcat Stadium to face Whitewater. These games could have key seeding implications, but more importantly will close the chapter on another memory filled regular season of football in Fayette County.
In 2016, three of the five county teams earned a spot in the playoffs – it will be exciting to see how that plays out in the 2017 season.