Go ahead and celebrate, high school football fans. The regular season is finally here. Sure, it is a light week, but there are some great games throughout the state. Locally, the Clinch County at Brooks County game has a lot of people talking, including myself. I think it could be a fun one out in Quitman tonight.
It’s a fresh start to the Friday Night Fever column, and we all know I could use a fresh start. I finished dead last in the 2011 standings. Last year’s champion, Karah-Leigh, has moved on in her career, so this season it’s just Christian Malone and I competing for the bragging rights of pick ’em champion.
This week, we’ll be picking all three local games, along with two Corky Kell Classic games that will be played Saturday in the Georgia Dome. Christian and I will also feature an upset pick each week, although that game will not count towards our weekly standings. We are free to pick any game we want in the state of Georgia.
Happy football season, everyone. Let the games begin. Remember to follow @VDTsports and @Ed_Hooper on Twitter for score updates throughout the night and check us out online at www.valdostadailytimes.com/sports.
Clinch County at Brooks County
I wish I could be at this game in person. There will be a lot of excitement on the field. Brooks County has athletes and a lot of hype around its team this season. Junior quarterback Malcolm Parrish is a joy to watch play and the team is built around him this season.
For Clinch County, the Panthers are young and head coach Jim Dickerson said he thinks his team will go through some growing pains this year. For the sake of Clinch County fans, I hope the young team can slow down Parrish, who might be the front-runner for Region 1-AA Player of the Year honors.
I like Brooks County in this contest tonight. The experience and explosive talents for the Trojans will be too much. I think Clinch County keeps it close early, but Brooks County pulls away late. Don’t worry Panther fans, I still see a very successful season coming your way in Region 2-A.
Ed: Brooks County 38, Clinch County 17
Christian: Brooks County 17, Clinch County 10
Windsor Academy at Valwood
There is no doubt in this game, Valwood will cruise to a victory. The Valiants are far too experienced, too big, too fast and too smart for the Knights of Windsor Academy. I expect a big night for players like Khary Paige and Rashad Mathis. I also expect this game to be no contest by the time the second quarter begins, allowing the Valiant backups to get in the game. Make this win No. 1 of many for Valwood head coach Ashley Henderson.
Ed: Valwood 58, Windsor Academy 7
Christian: Valwood 49, Windsor 14
Atkinson County at Lanier County
The Bulldogs are small in numbers and size. They are also inexperienced, according to head coach David Ward. Atkinson County has depth and a lot of experience returning. I like Lanier County quarterback Jovan Smith. I saw him play last season when the Bulldogs beat Berrien. He is a play maker and can make a difference for Lanier County this season. I just think tonight is too early in the season for a Lanier County win. With the loss of players like Jeremy Daniels (now at VSU) and Junior Gnonkonde (now at North Carolina), the Bulldogs are in store for some growing pains.
Ed: Atkinson County 28, Lanier County 13
Christian: Lanier County 28, Atkinson County 27
Colquitt County vs. North Gwinnett
A rematch of last season’s semifinal in Suwanee, the Bulldogs and Packers meet Saturday afternoon in the Georgia Dome. Last week, the Packers fell in the final seconds to the Norcross Blue Devils. Just a preseason game, but it felt more like a regular season game the way the Packers and Blue Devils played it. That early contest for the Packers can be either a positive or a negative. I think it will be a positive, especially with all the leadership Colquitt County has on its roster. Plus, North Gwinnett’s offense is young this season.
Ed: Colquitt County 28, North Gwinnett 21
Christian: Colquitt County 35, North Gwinnett 31
Camden County vs. Peachtree Ridge
Everyone knows what Camden County has this season. My main question coming into this game is “What does Peachtree Ridge have this year?”
The Lions are usually a good football team. They were 6-4 in 2010 and improved to 8-3 in 2011. I read the Gwinnett Daily Post every day, and I have yet to read anything on this football team, which makes me hesitant to pick them.
The Wildcats of Camden County are good, real good. Quarterback Brice Ramsey is already committed to Georgia, along with wide receiver, running back and defensive back J.J. Green. The duo is scary to watch, and I think on the synthetic turf of the Georgia Dome, this team can be extra scary.
Ed: Camden County 31, Peachtree Ridge 17
Christian: Camden County 34, Peachtree Ridge 10
Ed: My upset pick this week has the No. 1-nationally ranked high school football team, according to ESPN, Grayson, falling this weekend. That’s right. Down goes Grayson (We can all dream, right?). Yes, Robert Nkemdiche is a great football player. He is one of the best to ever come out of the state of Georgia. But I am sick of reading about him every single day. A lot of Division I talent stacked on one team doesn’t automatically qualify you for a state championship. Just go ask Stephenson how all their D-I talent works out for them every year (Remember Lowndes in the first round?). McEachern 21, Grayson 20
Christian: My upset pick has the No. 2 team in 6A, Walton, falling to Brookwood. Walton had a great season last year, and the Raiders have two of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super 11 players. But Brookwood is always dangerous. They always seem to have big offensive linemen, talented skill position players and sound defenders. Brookwood only went 8-4 in 2011 (after winning the state title in 2010), but all four of those losses came to top teams (state champion Grayson, semifinalist Lassiter and quarterfinalists Dacula and M.L. King). They also gave Grayson a much tougher game than Walton did (Brookwood lost 14-7 to Grayson, while Walton was pounded 24-0 by the Rams). If the Broncos can find a way to slow down Walton star running back Tyren Jones, they have a chance to pull off the upset. Brookwood 24, Walton 21.