Photo: AJC
Photo: AJC

Class AAAAAA football: 10 games worth watching this season

The Georgia High School Association recently released its football schedule for the 2018 season.

Here are 10 games worth watching this fall: 

*Tucker vs. Buford (Aug. 17, Georgia State Stadium): Tucker, a semifinalist in 2017, will start the season with a bang, opening against Buford in the Corky Kell Classic and then traveling to Grayson on Aug. 24. Tucker has a winning record against both of the perennial powers. The Tigers are 3-2-1 against Buford, although the teams haven’t met since 1955, and they won their only meeting with Grayson 26-23 in the second round of the 2014 playoffs. 

*Central (Phenix City, Ala.) at Mays (Aug. 25, Lakewood Stadium): After opening the season against Norcross on Aug. 18 in the Corky Kell Classic, the Raiders will face a Central team that lost in the semifinals of Alabama’s highest classification last season. Mays has enjoyed the best run in school history over the past four seasons, compiling a 44-9 record, with two region titles, a state runner-up finish and two other trips to the quarterfinals. 

*Harrison at Dalton (Sept. 21): The winner of the Harrison-Dalton game has gone on to win the Region 6 title the past two seasons - Harrison last year and Dalton in 2016. Dalton eventually finished in third place in the region last season after also losing to Allatoona 38-3 in the regular-season finale. Harrison reached the quarterfinals in 2017 after losing quarterback Justin Fields to a season-ending broken finger against Dalton on Oct. 19. 

*Lowndes at Valdosta (Sept. 21): Valdosta won the Class AAAAAA championship in 2016 but took a big step back (4-7) last season, winning its fewest games since the 2006 team went 1-9. Among the losses in 2017 was a 45-0 setback against its city rival, snapping Valdosta’s three-game winning streak in the series. The 45-point margin of victory was Lowndes’ largest ever against the Wildcats. Valdosta has never had back-to-back losing seasons. 

*Warner Robins at Northside-Warner Robins (Sept. 21, McConnell-Talbert Stadium): Northside had beaten its city rival three consecutive years, including 58-14 and 55-3 the previous two seasons, but Warner Robins turned the tables in 2017 with a 28-17 victory in the regular-season opener. Warner Robins won 14 consecutive games before losing to Rome in the state final. Northside finished 8-4, its fewest wins in a season since the 1996 team went 6-5. 

*Centennial at Alpharetta (Sept. 28): Alpharetta’s 34-31 victory over Centennial in the teams’ Region 7 opener last season ultimately determined the region championship. Alpharetta won its fourth region title in seven years and went on to a school-best 11 wins and reached the quarterfinals for the first time. Centennial did not lose another game until being eliminated by Mays 48-41 in the second round of the playoffs. Alpharetta is 8-4 all-time against the Knights. 

*Heritage-Conyers at Evans (Oct. 12): Although neither team has ever advanced past the second round of the playoffs (both reached the second round in 2017), this game has big implications in Region 3, with the winner going on to claim the region title the past two seasons. Evans won the title last year with a 42-35 victory over the Patriots in the regular-season finale. Heritage claimed the championship in 2016 after beating Evans 42-23. 

*Glynn Academy at Brunswick (Oct. 19, Glynn County Stadium): Brunswick had its best season since 2010 last year, but it wasn’t enough to stop Glynn Academy from winning its second consecutive Region 2 title. The teams tied for first place in the region, but Glynn got the top seed thanks to its 26-13 victory over the Pirates. Glynn Academy has reached at least the quarterfinals four consecutive seasons, including the semifinals last season. 

*Winder-Barrow at Gainesville (Oct. 19): New Gainesville coach Heath Webb will face his former school for the first time when the Red Elephants host Winder-Barrow in the teams’ third Region 8 game. Webb’s record in four years at Winder-Barrow was 26-19, and his team’s 9-3 mark in 2017 was the school’s best since 1993. Webb replaced Bruce Miller, who retired after winning 157 games and a state title in his 16 seasons. 

*Lee County at Coffee (Nov. 2): This meeting of Region 1 rivals will be a rematch of last year’s Class AAAAAA championship game, which Lee County won 28-21 in overtime for the school’s first state title. Lee County also won the regular-season meeting 23-7 to secure the region championship. Lee County has won three consecutive games against Coffee after losing the first four meetings in the series, which began in 2000.

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