Notebook: Title-game rematch headlines Week 1

Benedictine and Greater Atlanta Christian met in the Class AA State Championship last season. (Brant Sanderling / AJC)
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Benedictine and Greater Atlanta Christian met in the Class AA State Championship last season. (Brant Sanderling / AJC)

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Benedictine and Greater Atlanta Christian met in the Class AA State Championship last season. (Brant Sanderling / AJC)

Benedictine and Greater Atlanta Christian met in the Class AA State Championship last season. (Brant Sanderling / AJC)
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Benedictine and Greater Atlanta Christian met in the Class AA State Championship last season. (Brant Sanderling / AJC)

The Georgia high school football season begins this weekend with 109 games, meaning about half of Georgia's 419 football-playing schools are getting started.

Two teams will be picking up literally where they left off last season. Greater Atlanta Christian travels to Savannah to play Benedictine in a rematch of the Class AA championship game, which Benedictine won 45-21.

"What a fun way to start the year and get things cranked up," GAC coach Tim Hardy said. "It's brought a sense of purpose and energy to our program. You want an opener that drives you through the summer and the offseason. This one does it."

It marks the 21st time in state history that state finalists have met again the following season, but the first time it is has happened in a season opener since 1969. The original winner is 12-7. (Peachtree Ridge and Roswell tied in the 2006 final and played again in 2007, with Roswell winning).

City, private schools await fate

The GHSA's plan to deal with private and city schools will become more interesting in the weeks ahead. Beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, any school that gets more than 3 percent of its student body outside of its county will be moved up in class.

But schools won't be required to produce those statistics for another month or so, as the GHSA gears up for reclassification. So how many private and city schools might be bumped?

"Right now, we don't know," GHSA executive director Gary Phillips said this week. "We've theorized and theorized [about] where these schools get their kids. One of the tasks is to get those people to tell us."

Buford, for one, expects to be moving up. Buford has open enrollment, meaning students from outside the district may attend. "It simply means we will play larger and tougher schools," said Buford athletics director Dexter Wood, who voted against the GHSA reclassification plan on Monday as the representative of Region 8-AAAA. "All we can do is try and get better ourselves in the overall excellence of our athletic program."

The fate of other city schools, such as Calhoun, Carrollton, Jefferson and Gainesville, remains to be seen. The GHSA won't have enrollment numbers to begin reclassification until later this fall.

Mays-Hughes headlines APS Classic

Mays vs. Hughes is the headline game of Saturdays Atlanta Public Schools Football Classic, a four-game event at Lakewood Stadium. Other games include Carver (Columbus) vs. Carver (Atlanta), Grady vs. Washington and Hardaway vs. Tri-Cities. Mays is coming off the best season in school history, finishing 12-3 and losing by seven points to Northside in the state championship game. Class AAAAAA Hughes was 9-3 last year and beat Mays 27-7.

Carver-Carver has some history

The Carver-Carver game is an interesting pairing of schools with the same name. The Columbus school is officially G.W. Carver High, while the Atlanta school is officially The New Schools at Carver. Both are named after George Washington Carver. Until last season, when G.W. Carver beat The New Schools at Carver 12-6, the two had not played since 1963, when both were members of the Georgia Interscholastic Association, the league for all-black schools during segregation.

Out-of-state teams to test Georgia Class A powers

Georgia's Class A private-school champion, Mount Paran Christian, travels to Asheville, N.C., to play Erwin, a perennial playoff team in its state. The No. 1-ranked Class A team, Eagle's Landing Christian, plays at home against North Florida Christian, which has won seven state titles in the past 20 years in Florida.

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