The 2011 foot­ball sched­ules

Tak­ing a close look at the up­com­ing high school foot­ball sched­ule

The Covington News - - Front page - Josh Briggs jbriggs@cov­

If you've been out­side the past cou­ple of days, no doubt you've ex­pe­ri­enced the swel­ter­ing heat of an­other typ­i­cal Ge­or­gia sum­mer. It's not ex­actly great golf weather. The good news is it means fall is fast ap­proach­ing. And with fall comes foot­ball.

While school is still in re­cess for three more weeks, it's never too early to talk foot­ball. The News will again be fea­tur­ing in-depth pre­views in Au­gust of the lo­cal high school teams. But now is a good time to take a sneak peek at the sched­ule and some po­ten­tial com­pelling matchups this fall.

The open­ing two games at Sharp Sta­dium are also two of the big­gest in New­ton County. Al­covy and East­side again kick off the sea­son when they face each other Aug. 26. The teams have split the past two matchups. Al­covy pitched the only shutout against a Rick Hurst East­side team in 2009 when the Tigers beat the Ea­gles 3-0.

Al­covy also de­feated New­ton that year to win the county cham­pi­onship.

East­side re­turns much of its de­fense and sev­eral key of­fen­sive pieces while Al­covy will fea­ture a very dif­fer­ent team. All signs point to an East­side win but the same could have been said in '09 when Al­covy shocked ev­ery­one with the shutout.

In week two, it’s the New- ton-East­side show­down that is al­ways un­pre­dictable.

New­ton opens its sea­son on the road at Shiloh and should be con­sid­ered the fa­vorite in that game. While the Rams won't play Al­covy again this year, East­side can win the county cham­pi­onship with two wins over county foes. But if we've learned any­thing over the past three years it's that New­ton and East­side al­ways match up well against each other de­spite play­ing in two dif­fer­ent clas­si­fi­ca­tions. This game is also im­por­tant for East­side in that it sets the Ea­gles up for re­gion play, which opens in week three.

Look­ing at re­gion play for the three teams, a few home games stick out as ones you won't want to miss. First off, New­ton opens Re­gion 2-AAAAA play by host­ing pow­er­house New­nan. The Rams went to New­nan a year ago and shocked the Cougars with a stir­ring 3532 overtime win. The loss was one of two New­nan suf­fered in 2010 and the past five years over­all.

The fol­low­ing week fea­tures the big show­down be­tween East­side and Sandy Creek. The Ea­gles suf­fered their worst loss in three years at Sandy Creek a year ago in a game where then start­ing quar­ter­back Califf Carnes was in­jured late in the first half. East-

side will be look­ing for re­venge over the one team that knocked them around. It won't be easy as Sandy Creek is the two-time de­fend­ing state cham­pion hav­ing won back-to-back ti­tles in Class AAAA then AAA last year. The win­ner of this game likely has the in­side track at the Re­gion 4AAA cham­pi­onship.

Look­ing a lit­tle deeper into the sched­ules finds com­pelling matchups on Oct. 7 for New­ton when the Rams face Stephen­son at Sharp Sta­dium and the next week when East­side hosts Stock­bridge. New­ton has played Stephen­son tough the past three years only to lose all three matchups. But in each game, New­ton had its share of chances to win and you sense it's just a mat­ter of time be­fore the Rams break­through with a win. East­side han­dled Stock­bridge on the road but the Tigers are an up and com­ing team. This game could present the last tough test for East­side on its way to what the Ea­gles hope will be a third re­gion cham­pi­onship in four years.

Look­ing at Al­covy's sched­ule re­veals a nice home­s­tand which runs the bet­ter part of a month. The Tigers were road war­riors in their first year in Re­gion 3A-AAAA last sea­son and were never able to get in a groove as they went 0-4 on the road to open re­gion play. The ta­bles turn this year as Al­covy plays four straight home games to open re­gion play, giv­ing the Tigers an op­por­tu­nity to use the home­field ad­van­tage to get off to a bet­ter start in 2011.

If the past three years have proved any­thing it's that mak­ing a play­off run is made a lot eas­ier if a team can se­cure home­field ad­van­tage. The Ea­gles are 5-0 in home play­off games the past three years and 1-3 on the road. Sharp Sta­dium has al­ways proven to be a tough venue for vis­it­ing teams to play at es­pe­cially when the three teams are in the hunt and the stands are full.

Fi­nally, while Al­covy and New­ton won't face each other again in 2011, it could be the last time the two teams miss each other. Un­der the pro­posed clas­si­fi­ca­tion re­align­ment by the Ge­or­gia High School As­so­ci­a­tion, set to be in place in 2012, the Tigers and Rams look like they'll be in the same re­gion. Not only will the two county ri­vals play each other should the plan be rat­i­fied later this year, the games will mean more than county brag­ging rights.

File photo

Foot­ball sched­ules re­veal com­pelling matchups in­clud­ing the Al­covy-East­side game which has been close the past two sea­sons.

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