Monday November 30th, 2015 12:07PM

Getting close to kickoff: Scrimmages take center stage this week

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
High school football is so close you can almost taste it -- and this week you can start watching it (almost) for real.<br /> <br /> Over the next few days most of the area's programs will take part in scrimmages against either fellow area squads or teams from around the state, as the march toward kickoff takes a big step forward.<br /> <br /> <i>(NOTE: For a complete look at all of the area's scrimmage games this week and next, simply scroll down.)</i><br /> <br /> This year's scrimmage schedule does feature one change from years past in that GHSA teams were allowed to choose between holding spring practice or taking two scrimmage contests in the fall.<br /> <br /> Five northeast Georgia programs -- Apalachee, Dawson County, North Forsyth, North Hall and Towns County -- all opted for two scrimmage contests. (Apalachee has already taken part in its first scrimmage.)<br /> <br /> "With the situation we were in, it just made sense for us," said North Hall coach David Bishop, who is not only in his first season as head coach with the Trojans after years as an assistant with the program but also breaking in 20 new starters on offense and defense. "We need as much game-like competition as possible, and I felt this would help us more than spring practice."<br /> <br /> Most teams will face their lone scrimmage this Friday, taking one week off to correct issues discovered in those simulated contests before beginning the season on Aug. 29. <br /> <br /> However, some programs will begin the season in what has come to be called "week zero," kicking off on Aug. 22 and 23.<br /> <br /> Buford, East Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lumpkin County, Mill Creek, North Gwinnett and Rabun County will all play games the week before the full slate of 2014 gets underway, with Jefferson playing at Rabun County on Aug. 22 the only all-northeast Georgia showdown of the weekend.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Johnson will play at Madison County on Aug. 22, while Lumpkin County travels to Model and East Jackson plays host to Hebron Christian. The next day (Aug. 23) will be big for area programs in Gwinnett County, as Buford plays host to Florida state champion Trinity Christian out of Jacksonville, Fla., while in the Georgia Dome, Mill Creek faces McEachern and North Gwinnett battles Colquitt County as part of the Corky Kell Classic.<br /> <br /> With so much football on the horizon, stay wired to's Friday Game Night, where we will soon bring you our information-packed 2014 season preview. Included will be information from 30 area teams, a look at the new regions those teams will play in, the new coaches roaming northeast Georgia's sidelines and all the key players set to make for another huge campaign. Also included will be video interviews with a number of area programs, schedules and key contests set for the fast-approaching season.<br /> <br /> <b>AREA PREP FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE</b><br /> <i>All start times 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted</i><br /> <br /> <b>Thursday</b><br /> Jefferson at West Hall, 7 p.m.<br /> <br /> <b>Friday</b><br /> Banks County at Lakeview Academy<br /> Buford at South Gwinnett<br /> Commerce at Franklin County<br /> East Jackson at Johnson<br /> Forsyth Central at North Forsyth<br /> Gainesville at White County<br /> Gilmer at North Hall<br /> Jackson County at Athens Academy<br /> Lumpkin County at Cambridge<br /> Mill Creek at Archer<br /> Monroe Area at Apalachee<br /> Mountain View at Flowery Branch<br /> North Gwinnett at Hughes<br /> Rabun-Gap at Towns County<br /> Rabun County at Franklin, N.C.<br /> Riverside Military at Armuchee<br /> South Atlanta at Fannin County<br /> Stephens County at Habersham Central<br /> Union County at Sonoraville, 7 p.m.<br /> Westminster at Dawson County<br /> <br /> <b>Thursday, Aug. 21</b><br /> East Hall at Chestatee, 7 p.m.<br /> <br /> <b>Friday, Aug. 22</b><br /> North Forsyth at Hart County<br /> North Hall at Dawson County<br /> Towns County at Hayesville, N.C.
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