Football schedules for the 2014 season were released last week by the Georgia High School Association.
Here are some of the highlights at first glance, and in no particular order. They focus primarily on non-region games –
*Buford is playing Class AAAAAA semifinalist McEachern on Sept. 5 at home. Buford also plays Berkmar and Trinity Christian of Florida in the weeks before. Buford played Class AAAAA power Gainesville the past two seasons, but this will be the first games against teams from the highest class since 2004, when Buford’s state-record 47-game losing streak was ended by Central Gwinnett. Buford has won nine state titles since 2001 in classes AAA and AA. The Wolves are moving to AAAA in 2014.
*Carver of Columbus is making the jump to AAAAA from AAA and put defending AAAAA champion Creekside on the schedule for Sept. 5 at Columbus Memorial Stadium. Also interesting will be a meeting between Carver and Carver. That would be the Columbus school (Tigers) against the Atlanta school (Panthers). That’s set for Aug. 23 in a double-header at Tri-Cities. Carver and Carver actually played in 1962 and 1963 when both were members of the Georgia Interscholastic Association, which ran high school sports for African-American schools during segregation. Mays plays Langston Hughes in the second game of the Aug. 23 double-header at Tri-Cities.
*Langston Hughes has achieved back-to-back 10-win seasons but with little fanfare. Note that Hughes’ two losses last season were to AAAAA champ Creekside and AAAAAA semifinalist McEachern by a total of three points. The Panthers will play Creekside again on Aug. 29 but also Grayson at home on Sept. 5. Hughes DE D’Andre Walker is a two-time all-state player and consensus top 20 recruit in Georgia.
*Colquitt County gets a rematch against Hoover, coach Rush Propst's former team from Alabama, on Aug. 29, only this time in Moultrie. Colquitt County has a pretty tough pre-region schedule that also includes Mill Creek on Aug. 23 in the Corky Kell Classic at McEachern and at Enterprise, Ala., on Sept. 12.
*Greater Atlanta Christian and Benedictine will be two highly ranked Class AA teams. They’ll play Aug. 22 at GAC.
*Class A private-school power Eagle’s Landing Christian is branching out. On the Chargers’ schedule are Woodward Academy of AAAA (Sept. 26), Greater Atlanta Christian of AA (Sept. 5) and Stockbridge of AAAAA (Aug. 29), all at home. ELCA plays at Whitewahter of AAAA on Sept. 19.
*Region 4-AAAAAA has only seven teams, which entails the need to find four non-region opponents to fill the schedule. Kudos to Hillgrove, McEachern and North Cobb, who knocked themselves out to find good teams to play. Hillgrove will meet two recent state finalists, North Gwinnett (Sept. 5) at home and Lovejoy (Sept. 12) on the road. North Cobb plays at Northside-Warner Robins and North Gwinnett and plays at home against Cartersville and Monroe Area. McEachern has the toughest gantlet -- North Gwinnett, Buford, Peachtree Ridge and Lovejoy.
*Lovejoy's schedule is highly upgraded. Aside from McEachern and Hillgrove, the Wildcats get a Region 2 matchup with AAAAAA newcomer Tucker on Oct. 31.
*North Oconee has a 2,000-yard rusher named Kawon Bryant. Should be fun seeing how he and the Titans do against Coffee on Aug. 23 at Georgia Southern, then at Greater Atlanta Christian on Aug. 29. Burke County is playing Statesboro as part of that Aug. 23 double-header at Georgia Southern.
*No team plays a tougher first seven games than North Gwinnett. Check this out: McEachern, North Cobb, Hillgrove., Collins Hill, Mill Creek, Norcross, Peachtree Ridge.
*Defending Class A private champion Aquinas, which returns all-state RB Ruben Garnett and QB Liam Welch, has a road game against Jeff Herron and Prince Avenue Christian on Aug. 29.
*Archer’s 11-0 start last season was questioned for an alleged lack of quality opponents. The Tigers open this season with Sandy Creek (Aug. 22). Next comes Peachtree Ridge (Aug. 29).
*Veterans is a 4-year-old school in Houston County that many believe is on the rise. The Warhawks were 8-4 last season under coach David Bruce. They aren't playing county rivals Warner Robins and Northside this year, but they’ve picked up Washington County (Sept. 12) and Valdosta (Sept. 19). Veterans QB Logan Byrd, a junior, is considered by some the best long-range prospect in the state at his position.
*Northside and Warner Robins can't be said to be ducking Veterans. They're in Region 2-AAAAA, which features a nine-game schedule and room for only one outside game. Warner Robins is playing Peach County, and Northside is playing North Cobb.
*Stratford Academy, Tattnall Square and Mount de Sales of Macon are making the move into the GHSA from GISA. Stratford, the GISA Class AAA runner-up last season, will be the most interesting to watch initially. The Eagles, coached by former Prince Avenue coach Mark Farriba, play Savanna Country Day and Wesleyan before their Region 7-A opener against defending Class A private champ Aquinas on Sept. 19.
*The Valdosta-Thomasville series is 100-years-old, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. They’ve played each other 77 times, but stopped after 1985 as the schools moved into different regions. Now, Thomasville is only a Class AA school while Valdosta remains in the highest class. The rivalry will be renewed on Sept. 12 at Valdosta.
*Hallford Stadium in DeKalb County will be the site of a four-game event Aug. 30 that brings in some of Florida’s best teams. Miami Central and B.T. Washington are Florida state champions. The schedule looks like this:
Noon – Godby (Fla.) vs. Marist
2:30 p.m. – Norland (Fla.) vs. M.L. King
5:30 p.m. – Miami Central vs. Stephenson
8 p.m. – B.T. Washington vs. Tucker
*The Corky Kell Classic, played in the Georgia Dome almost every year since 1992, will be played at McEachern on Aug. 22-23 because of a conflict with a Falcons preseason game that weekend. Here is the schedule for that:
5:30 p.m. – Creekview vs. North Paulding
8:30 p.m. – Sandy Creek vs. Archer
8:45 a.m. – Carrollton vs. Kell
11:45 a.m. – Mill Creek vs. Colquitt County
2:45 p.m. – Valdosta vs. Brookwood
5:45 p.m. – Tucker vs. Norcross
8:45 p.m. – North Gwinnett vs. McEachern