Ashley Henderson is the new head coach at Thomas County Central. (Photo - Georgia Public Broadcasting)

Football: Changes abound ... plus season openers for everyone

The countdown has started for high school football. All the teams have completed spring workouts and their scrimmages. Now they are hitting the weight room, participating in 7-on-7 camps and running the bleachers to get ready for the 2018 season.

There will a few changes for Class AAAAA this fall. 

  • Former University of Georgia star and NFL running back Robert Edwards has opted to leave Greene County and take the head coaching position at Riverwood. Greene County was 29-37 during Edwards’ six seasons. He was 15-7 in two years at Arlington Christian from 2010-12. 
  • Ashley Henderson took the head coaching position at Thomas County Central when Bill Shaver was let go in the winter. Shaver had held the position for 10 years, compiled a 74-40 record, and was a link to the program’s glory days of five state championships in six seasons from 1992-97. Henderson was the coach at Valwood, a GISA school who won three state championships since he began there in 2012. 
  • Region 8 lost a member. Flowery Branch was reclassified into AAAAA because of an enrollment shift brought on by the addition of Cherokee Bluff, the new school in Hall County. The Flowery Branch enrollment is projected to drop 27 percent.The good news is Flowery Branch doesn’t have to play Buford. The bad news: The Falcons were reclassified into Region 7-AAAA, which includes Blessed Trinity and Marist. 
  • Two-time defending state champion Rome will host the first two games of the Corky Kell Classic at Barron Stadium. The Wolves, who have won 27 straight games, will play a loaded Marietta team in its Corky Kell debut. 
  • Arabia Mountain, the two-time champion from Region 5, will travel to mighty Valdosta for the season opener. The Rams have never met the Wildcats. 

Here is the list of season openers. The games are all scheduled for August 17, unless specified otherwise

Region 1: Seminole County at Bainbridge, Harris County at Carver Columbus, Early County at Thomas County Central, Veterans at Upson Lee, Tift County at Warner Robins. 

Region 2: New Hampstead vs. Jenkins, Long County at South Effingham, Statesboro at Greenbrier (Aug. 24), Pine Ridge (Fla.) at Ware County, Wayne County at Long County (Aug. 24). 

Region 3: Hampton at Fayette County, Spalding at Griffin, Jonesboro vs. Mt. Zion (Tara), McIntosh vs. Mundy’s Mill (Twelve Oaks), Riverdale vs. North Clayton (Southern Crescent), Mt. Zion at Starr’s Mill (Aug. 24), Sandy Creek at Whitewater (Aug. 24). 

Region 4: Dutchtown at Hughes, Eagle’s Landing at Rockdale County, Jones County at Howard (Aug. 16), Jackson at Locust Grove, Eastside at Ola, Arabia Mountain at Stockbridge, Union Grove at Henry County (Aug. 24), Southwest DeKalb at Woodland. 

Region 5: Carver Atlanta at Arabia Mountain (Hallford), Chamblee at Forsyth Central, Druid Hills vs. Clarkston (Hallford), Columbia vs. Stephenson (Avondale), Cross Keys at Providence Christian, Forest Park vs. Lithonia (North DeKalb), Miller Grove vs. Redan (Godfrey), Southwest DeKalb at Woodland.

Region 6: Lovejoy at Banneker, Carver at Arabia Mountain (Hallford), Decatur at Lakeside (Avondale), North Atlanta at Grady, Jackson at Valdosta, Lithia Springs at New Manchester (Aug. 24), Fellowship Christian at North Springs, Riverwood at Chattahoochee.

Region 7: Carrollton vs. East Coweta (Aug. 24 at West Georgia), Adairsville at Cass (Aug. 24), Upson-Lee at East Paulding (Aug. 24), Hiram at Harrison (Aug. 24), Kell vs. East Coweta at Mercedes Benz (Aug. 18), Paulding County at North Paulding, Marietta at Rome (Aug. 16), Villa Rica at Campbell. Woodland at SE Whitfield.

Region 8: Buford vs. Tucker (at Georgia State), Cedar Shoals at Madison County, Clarke Central at Winder-Barrow, Johnson at Oglethorpe County, Morgan County at Loganville, George Walton Academy at Walnut Grove.

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