When No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian takes on No. 7 Lovett Friday night, the game will have a midseason feel to it, leaving fans missing only the cool bite in the air that comes later in the fall.
This will mark the 14th meeting between the programs. GAC holds a 7-6 margin and has won the last three games.
“It is sort of fun to play a familiar opponent,” GAC coach Tim Hardy said. “We have played so many times through region play and non-region play over the last few years. There is a comfortability because we are familiar with each other. But there is also a level of, 'they know you and you know them,' sort of thing. I think it is good and fun because you don’t just look at scrimmage film but previous years' games as well.”
Familiarity is good and all, but Lovett’s Mike Muschamp thinks GAC is the best team in the state and that his Lions might just have a tall task ahead.
“They look awfully good," Muschamp said. "They have really good size, tremendous speed and what they do presents problems for everybody.”
The Spartans are led by a dynamic two-way player and AJC Super 11 selection Kyler McMichael, a Clemson commitment. McMichael, who rushed for 1,400 yards last season, is listed as a four-star recruit by 247sports.com.
“The deal with Kyler, he is such a versatile athlete,” Muschamp said. “I am not sure that you try to match up with him; you just try to do what you can do to contain everyone. If you focus on one guy, they have so many weapons they can hurt you in so many different ways. They throw well and because they run the ball so well, the pass game kind of scares you. And defensively you have Kyler at one corner and the North Carolina commit (Trey Morrison) at the other corner. What do you do?”
Lovett will have to replace some players after graduating quarterback Brady Tindall, who is at Mercer, and several others. Senior Crawford Schwieger, who passed for two touchdowns last season, is competing with junior Lance Beck and sophomore Blaine McAllister for the starting spot at quarterback. K.J. Wallace, the team’s leading receiver with seven touchdowns last season, is back with receivers Peyton Ringer and Evan McKown.
“We are having to replace some guys who graduated,” Muschamp said. “They are some guys who did an awful lot of stuff for us, and we are trying to fill those holes and create some depth. We just have to execute and not make a lot of mistakes.”
GAC lost to Cedar Grove in the championship game last season after losing quarterback Davis Mills to an injury early in the game. But that was last season.
“We have some guys who were (in the championship game) that aren’t here anymore,” Hardy said. “But we have a bunch of guys who were there. And that specific day we just showed who we were. Obviously, we had some challenges to work through, but we showed how hard we are going to get after it. As we roll into the 2017 season, every year is new, and we have some guys back, some new people. We are just hungry to maximize and become our absolute best, in Week 1 and Week 15.”
Muschamp did his best to describe what he expects when the two programs meet Friday ... minus the cool bite in the air.
“It is going to be a muggy night on the river bank, and it is going to be a great atmosphere for the first night of high school football in the great state of Georgia and we are excited about it,” he said.
Other top games:
No. 2 (AAAA) Blessed Trinity at No. 5 Westminster
When/Where: 7:30 p.m. , Friday , Alfred E. Thompson Stadium, Atlanta
Last meeting: Westminster 38-31 in overtime of the 2015 Class AAA championship game
Douglass at No. 3 Calhoun
When/Where: 7:30 p.m. , Friday , Phil Reeves Stadium, Calhoun
Last meeting: Calhoun 28-0 over Douglass, Aug. 19, 2016
West Forsyth at No. 9 Pace Academy
When/Where: 7:30 p.m. , Friday , Walsh Field, Atlanta
Last Meeting: Pace 20-10 over West Forsyth, Aug. 26, 2016