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SCRIMMAGE PREVIEWS: Local teams hit the gridiron for final tune-ups

Can you believe it’s finally here?! Football season officially kicks off on Thursday for Jefferson and Friday night for most everyone else in season-opening scrimmages.

Here’s the rundown of our local 11 teams and their matchups.

WHITE COUNTY vs STEPHENS COUNTY

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 // 7:30 PM
CLEVELAND, GA

What to Watch For [W2W4]: How much better has last year’s freshman phenom J Ben Haynes gotten for White County? Let’s see! Who gets the most meaningful carries for the Warriors in this one will also be intriguing, as it may represent the likely successor to Kaleb Crane, last year’s all-state back. Based on our recent interview with coach Tim Cokely, the ball will be spread around a bit. For Stephens County, it’s a rebuild of sorts. Gone are most of the skill players from last year (Jackson Bell, Hassan Brown, etc) and it’s a new coaching scheme with Wesley Tankersley in and legendary Frank Barden gone.

DAWSON COUNTY vs NORTH FORSYTH

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 // 7:30 PM
DAWSONVILLE, GA

What to Watch For [W2W4]: How do the Tigers run an offense without perhaps the greatest they’ve ever had in Coey Watson? Sid Maxwell’s Dawson County Tigers still have plenty of firepower with RB/QB Sevaughn Clark (all-state) and top threat receiver Ryan Glass. The defense may be even better than they have been the last two years, with tons of talent there too. Biggest thing to watch is Clark and how often he runs versus the pass and how that threat opens up the field. Look for newcomers Evan Abernathy (Lumpkin transfer) and Ahmad Kamara (Dawson Christian Academy transfer) as well.

BANKS COUNTY vs AQUINAS

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 // 7:30 PM
HOMER, GA

What to Watch For [W2W4]: Have the Leopards even had enough time to buy in to new coach Jay Reid’s philosophy? He’s a solid get for Banks County football and young, so we should think so. But the three coaches in less than 12 months puts this program in a sensitive spot. There is plenty of talented athletes on this roster, such as Terrence Walker, Jacob Lehotsky, Cody Dodge and Sawyer Pace. The learning curve might take a few games, but don’t bet against this athletic bunch. That said, Aquinas is just five years removed from a state title (2013) and its defense last year was phenomenal.

UNION COUNTY vs HABERSHAM CENTRAL

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 // 7:30 PM
BLAIRSVILLE, GA

What to Watch For [W2W4]: Tre Luttrell…he’s going to be a different version of last year’s AJ Curry. Not the same entirely, but he has some major experience at two powerhouse programs – Buford and Gainesville. He’s also got a coach’s mind, which is great for a QB. He’s got weapons too, so let’s see just how big Donovan Curry will play into the game plan, and the biggest thing to look for is who gets the bulk of the carries for the Raiders. For the Panthers, it’s all about the QB position as well. Coach Brian Allison’s son Pierson is the starter, and he’s not a Joseph Mancuso or Cole Wright (both D-1 QBs)…yet. He will get better with each snap this year, and it all starts Friday night, so enjoy watching the evolution of a player who in the next two years will be one of the top QBs in our corner of Northeast Georgia. The Panthers’ receiving corp is also top-notch…special group.

TOWNS COUNTY vs LUMPKIN COUNTY

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 // 7:30 PM
HIAWASSEE, GA

What to Watch For [W2W4]: There’s no Zach Davenport for the Towns County Indians, but this group made the playoffs for the first time ever last year. What will the excitement level look like in this game in a battle of Indians? On the flip side, what do we make of Lumpkin County in this game? These are coach Williamson’s guys now…three years in. They’ve showed good signs of growth even at the end of last year’s 1-9 season, so it’ll be fun to see exactly how much better they’ve gotten, and what is their identity?

JEFFERSON @ WALHALLA

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9 // 7 PM
WALHALLA, SC

What to Watch For [W2W4]: Garmon Randolph is the most highly-touted TE in the country and with little stats to really do justice to that. Watch him compete and you’ll see why. Colby Clark at QB will be fun to watch, and the Dragons offense without all-time great Colby Wood in the backfield. The defense is stout, so expect the starters to allow very little.

COMMERCE @ FRANKLIN COUNTY

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 // 7:30 PM
CARNESVILLE, GA

What to Watch For [W2W4]: Will Commerce continue to do what has worked for nearly 30 years and run the ball all over its opponents? Probably so. Doesn’t matter that there are new names and faces, the fun part is seeing in this game who will emerge as the next stars for the Tigers.

RABUN COUNTY @ FRANKLIN (NC)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 // 7:30 PM
FRANKLIN, NC

What to Watch For [W2W4]: The defending state runner-up Wildcats turn to life without Bailey Fisher. What will that look like? While no one misses Fisher more than us/Wildcat Nation, we think watching Gunner Stockton wearing that #14 won’t be much different. Back-to-back incredibly gifted QBs. Watch guys like Austin Jones, Braxton Hicks, Shawn Lovell, Jackson Webb, Austin Sosebee, Mason Sprinkle, Brison Beck, etc. There’s tons to watch for!

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