There were the typical opening night jitters, a couple of close calls and the end of a painful losing streak to make for an exciting start to the 2013 high school football campaign on Friday.
Buford, Dawson County, East Hall, Gainesville, Jefferson, Johnson, Mill Creek, North Forsyth, North Gwinnett, North Hall, Stephens County, Union County, White County and Winder-Barrow each picked up victories. Yet perhaps the sweetest victory came for East Jackson, which halted a 16-game losing skid. (NOTE: Scroll down for a complete list of area scores.)
North Hall maintained its dominance against rival Chestatee in hardfought fashion, fending off the War Eagles 33-15. Chestatee closed within 20-15 in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans answered with a 74-yard touchdown run from Isaac Seid to help pull away for their eighth straight win in the series.
Meanwhile, Gainesville overcame a slow start to whip West Forsyth 58-28 in Cumming. The Wolverines actually held a 14-3 first quarter lead -- till the Red Elephants got rolling in the second quarter. An interception from linebacker Devan Stringer helped turned the ride, as Gainesville pulled ahead 31-21 at the half and never looked back.
The victory set up a huge showdown between defending state champs next week at City Park, as both the Red Elephants (2012 Class AAAAA champs) and Buford (2012 Class AAA champ) will enter with 1-0 records.
The Wolves didn't sweat much of anything in their season opener, hammering Elbert County 46-7 at Tom Riden Stadium. Buford sprinted to a 26-0 lead at the half, allowing just 73 yards before the interval.
The area's other defending state champ, Jefferson, also got some payback for last year's sole blemish, blanking longtime rival Commerce 40-0. In his first start for the Dragons, quarterback Evan Shirreffs showed he was ready to take over from his older brother Bryant, putting up five touchdowns in the win.
In Cleveland, White County pushed past Habersham Central 35-14 to give Warriors coach Bill Ballard his 100th career win.
Dawson County also moved to 2-0 on the season, getting 213 yards rushing from Cody Lamar in a 27-13 win over Lumpkin County.
East Hall and Johnson each bounced back from tough losses last week, the Vikings pulling away to stomp Chattooga 48-12, while Johnson traveled to Oglethorpe and smacked the Patriots 34-8.
Stephens County also denied Franklin County in a turnover-strewn showdown in Toccoa, the Indians nabbing seven takeaways in a 21-13 victory.
Yet perhaps the sweetest win of the night came from East Jackson, which edged Banks County 14-10 to halt a losing skid that stretched back to September of 2011.
The North Forsyth defense got its first shutout since 2010 in leading the Raiders to a 31-0 whitewash of rival Forsyth Central.
Winder-Barrow rallied for two fourth quarter touchdowns to shock Jackson County 26-21 in the Bulldoggs' first season-opening victory since 2007.
To read more about some of the area's games, visit our sports, high school sports and Friday Game Night pages.
FRIDAY'S AREA FOOTBALL FINALS, AUG. 30
Buford 46, Elbert County 7
Dawson County 27, Lumpkin County 13
East Hall 48, Chattooga 12
East Jackson 14, Banks County 10
Fellowship Christian 41, Lakeview Academy 14
Gainesville 58, West Forsyth 28
Gilmer 22, Fannin County 0
Jefferson 40, Commerce 0
Johnson 34, Oglethorpe County 8
Lanier 42, Apalachee 14
Mill Creek 41, Dacula 28
North Forsyth 31, Forsyth Central 0
North Gwinnett 35, Grayson 0
North Hall 33, Chestatee 15
Northside, Warner Robins 28, Flowery Branch 6
Stephens County 21, Franklin County 13
Union County 41, Towns County 14
White County 35, Habersham Central 14
Winder-Barrow 26, Jackson County 21