An early look at football

By Doug Gorman

Are you ready for some football?

I guess that's sort of a stupid question to ask any sports fan in Georgia.

Ready or not, football is just around the corner as high school teams get things started next Monday with practices limited to shorts and helmets. College and pro practices follow in the next couple of weeks.

Although I have never been a betting man when it comes to sports, here are a few predictions for the upcoming season:

High School hopes: As high school football team prepare to begin practice under the hot-scorching sun, a new era is about to get underway.

The Georgia High School Association has realigned regions and that means Southern Crescent schools will go into five different regions and three different classifications.

At least some of the rivalries are still intact as Riverdale and Morrow share a home in Region 2-AAAAA. Lovejoy, Mundy's Mill and Union Grove are bunched into Region 4-AAAAA.

Eagle's Landing, Stockbridge, Henry County, Luella and newcomer Dutchtown will play out of 3-AAAAA in the same subregion.

Region 5-AAAAA will have a Clayton County flair to it as Forest Park, Jonesboro, Mt. Zion and North Clayton are among the 12 schools in the newly aligned region.

It will be interesting to watch how Eagle's Landing Christian Academy adjusts to playing in the Georgia High School Association. The Chargers are a member Region 5-A, which has just five football-playing schools.

How bout them Dawgs?: This year those Georgia Bulldog fans' bark could gets even louder. Mark Richt's squad is poised to have a great year as David Greene returns to quarterback to lead a talent-rich team. Former North Clayton standout D.J. Shockley is Greene's capable backup.

A favorable schedule, including five home games in the first six weeks of the season is also on Georgia's side, including back-to-back games with LSU and Tennessee.

Odds are Georgia won't go unbeaten, but if things fall just right, they could find themselves in the national title hunt.

Down on the flats: It's hard to get a handle on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets upcoming season. The Jackets and the rest of the ACC enter a new era this year as college football juggernaut Miami joins the league along with Michael Vick's alma mater Virginia Tech.

Tech gets both new ACC schools at home, including Miami the fourth week of the season.

By the time the Hurricanes blow into Grant Field for their ACC battle Tech fans should know plenty about their Jackets.

Tech opens with Samford, then goes to Clemson, and North Carolina. All three openers a winnable, but there are no guarantees.

Tech could either go back to their eighth straight bowl, or go it could be a long season, especially if Tech drops one of its first three games.

Hopefully, quarterback Reggie Ball won't suffer from the sophomore jinx. There will be a Southern Crescent connection down on the Flats as incoming freshman Jamal Lewis and Darrell Roberson.

One of the more interesting games on Tech's schedule this season is the match-up with Duke on Oct. 16.

Duke has hired former Tech linebacker and assistant coach Ted Roof as its head coach.

Roof took over the Blue Devils in midseason last year and began his campaign with a resounding victory against his alma mater.

I had Roof pegged to someday take over as Tech's head coach, so it will be interesting to see how he performances for one of Tech's rivals.

High-flying birds: Every since Michael Vick joined the Falcons must interest in the Falcons has been recharged.

Vick has brought excitement and hope to the long-suffering franchise.

Add to the fact that owner Arthur Blank was smart enough to hire coach Jim Mora and general manager Rich McKay and the table could be set for an impressive run this season.

(Doug Gorman is sports editor of the news-daily. His column runs on Fridays. E-mail at dgorman@news-daily.com)