The pads may not be popping everywhere yet -- that must wait until Wednesday for the state's high school programs -- but the Atlanta Falcons are already in camp and the Dogs and Jackets report this week.
Meanwhile, area high school teams are almost finished with their week-long acclimation period before the first day they may strap on full pads (Aug. 1).
Football is most assuredly in the air, and we here at Jacobs Media are as ready as anyone to kick off the 2012 season.
With that in mind, keep an eye out for our 2012 season preview, coming in mid-August. This year's preview will contain all you need to know about high school football in northeast Georgia, including stories, video interviews, schedules, rosters and photos of your favorite programs.
After last year's stellar season that included plenty of intrigue and excitement, the upcoming campaign promises plenty that you won't want to miss -- and your trip through fall Friday nights begins with Jacobs Media, including Access North Georgia's season preview, our very own High School Sports Unlimited (which will return in August), and weekly live broadcasts of all the big games throughout the area.
There are key questions that every team must face this upcoming season, including the new region layouts that affected every program in the state, let alone those in north Georgia.
How will Gainesville react to its leap into Region 8-AAAAA -- from years spent in Class AAA? How will Habersham Central handle moving up to the state's highest classification, 6A? How will Region 7-AAA shape up now that state power Buford has moved up from Class AA and back into its roots as a program competing against other schools located in northeast Georgia?
That's just scratching the surface. Plenty of other programs face coaching changes, including Flowery Branch -- though new head man Chris Griffin is the Falcons' longtime defensive coordinator -- West Hall, Johnson, Jackson County, Rabun County and Riverside Military Academy. Other teams, such as White County, North Forsyth, East Jackson, Commerce and Banks County will look to make strides under coaches in their second seasons in charge -- though Banks set an extremely high bar in year one under Philip Jones, who led the Leopards to the Region 8-AA title game in 2011.
And, of course, every team must replace key players in key positions, with the possible exception of Dawson County, which seemingly returns everyone. Region opponent North Hall will look to make up for the graduation of star running back/linebacker Imani Cross (now at Nebraska). In Dahlonega, Lumpkin County must replace a handful of standouts, including Ian McIntosh, BJ Dorsey and Logan Moye. Habersham Central must also find a new quarterback after graduating standout Kevin Ellison, who is now at Georgia Southern.
In just a few days, we at Jacobs Media will attempt to find the answers to all of these questions and get you headed in the right direction as kickoff draws ever nearer.
We will turn our attention to all of the fall sports schedule for area high schools, including cross country, softball and volleyball, so be sure to check back with Access North Georgia.com early and often once the season begins.