After months of doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 campaign is finally set to kick off on Friday with a number of intriguing contests. Some of those should provide fans will a glimpse of their favorite team's off-season progress, and three key showdowns will take place live over the airwaves of Jacobs Media and streaming live on AccessWDUN.
Trucking down I-985 to Spout Springs Road, a talented Cherokee Bluff team will open against Oakwood’s Johnson Knights. It’ll be a test for the Knights under the direction of new head coach William Harrell, and it’ll provide the loaded Bears with a litmus test of talent infusion and improvement across the board. The two in-county rivals will kick off in a game heard live on WDUN AM 550.
When West Hall received the news East Jackson was forced to cancel due to a COVID-19 diagnosis on Monday, the Spartans were quick to call the Eagles' Week 2 opponent, Jackson County. The Panthers had Week 1 off, so it worked out perfectly. West Hall beat the Panthers 31-21 in 2017 and have won six straight in the 12-game series. There will be a lot of excitement when the two kickoffs at the Hot Gates in Oakwood and can be heard live on WDUN FM 102.9 FM.
Meanwhile, Gainesville, after having its first two opponents pull the plug just two weeks ago, found an opponent almost 70 miles southbound in Henry County to fill Week 1. Stockbridge, coming off an 8-3 season, a playoff berth and hails from Region 4-5A, will provide the newly ordained members of Region 5-7A a stiff opening test of the season. But the Red Elephants return a plethora of talent, including dual-threat quarterback Gionni Williams, a solid offensive line led by Elijah Ruiz and Power 5 recruit Ced Nicely and a stingy defense. Stockbridge beat the Red Elephants, 40-34, in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs in 2015 -- the only meeting between the two. The second-ever contest will be broadcast live on 94.5 FM The Lake.
Flowery Branch will now play one of the newest members of Class 5A St. Pius X -- a perennial playoff contender -- in the 29th Corky Kell Classic at Falcons Field. The two teams were invited after Mill Creek had to pull out due to COVID-19 exposure. The Falcons have played in one of the best regions over the last four seasons in Class 4A and this season will be no different -- the non-region slate is no joke either. The Golden Lions return 18 starters off last year’s 6-6 team and made a 14th straight trip to the state playoffs. The No. 4-ranked Falcons will replace a few key positions but return David Renard at quarterback and All-Region and 2020 All-AccessWDUN team running back Jaizen Ellingham. The game can be watched on Peachtree TV.
In other action around northeast Georgia, Class A power Commerce will travel to Class 2A Banks County in an interesting battle.
Elsewhere, Dawson County will travel to Cass. The Tigers enter the season with most of the skill positions returning on offense but will have some new faces on the O-line and in the defensive secondary.
Fannin County, who requested a move out of Region 8-2A in the latest Georgia High School Association’s region alignments, will travel up Highway 515 to arch-rival and Region 8-2A’s Union County. The Rebels are picked as a favorite in Region 7-2A, while the Panthers are in a small rebuilding mode.
Mt. Paran Christian will travel to Lakeview Academy in Lee Shaw’s first game as head coach of the Lions and christening of the new stadium. A pretty good Madison County will take on a Joshua Pickett-led Habersham Central in Mt. Airy. A super-charged White County welcomes an improved Stephens County team to Cleveland. Class 2A title contender Rabun County, who’s schedule looked like Swiss cheese for almost a month, will travel to Ridgeland in the opener. Franklin is at Lumpkin County, and Armuchee makes the trip to the mountains of Towns County.
Friday Game Night will keep you in tune with all of these contests and more. Be sure to check in with us throughout the night and keep up with live scoring on twitter: @FridayGameNight.
SEPT. 4 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
All games listed kick-off at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted
Armuchee at Towns County
Commerce at Banks County
Dawson County at Cass
Jackson County at West Hall -- WDUN FM 102.9
Fannin at Union County
Franklin at Lumpkin County
Gainesville at Stockbridge – 94.5 FM The Lake
Johnson at Cherokee Bluff – WDUN AM 550
Madison County at Habersham Central
Mt. Paran Christian at Lakeview Academy
Rabun County at Ridgeland
Stephens at White County
St. Pius X at Flowery Branch
SEPT 5 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Paulding at North Hall, 11 a.m.