Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith will lead the Tigers into their non-region game against Lovejoy on Friday at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
The practice games are over.
Lovejoy vs. Mundy’s Mill (TO)
Luella at Lowndes, 8 p.m.
Forest Park at Chattahoochee
Mount Zion vs. Jonesboro (T) Ola at Eagle’s Landing
Union Grove at Locust Grove
Dutchtown at Griffin
Walnut Grove at Woodland
North Clayton vs. Riverdale (SC)
East Coweta at Henry County
Briarwood Christian, Ala., at ELCA
Strong Rock at Social Circle
Stockbridge at Tri-Cities
All games start at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Stadium keys: SC — Southern Crescent, T — Tara, TO — Twelve Oaks.
Starting Friday, the games count in the won-loss column. Although a couple of area teams got a jump on the season last week with regular season games, the majority of the teams will be in action this weekend.
For many seniors, Friday is the day they have been waiting for for the last four years.
“This will be my last first game of the season,” Stockbridge senior Kendarius Webster said. “It is very exciting.”
Here is a look at some of the top games on tap for this weekend:
Lovejoy vs. Mundy’s Mill: How far Mundy’s Mill has grown under second-year coach Greg Manior will be measured in this game between neighborhood rivals. Lovejoy is a top-10 program and Mundy’s Mill was on the brink of making the playoffs last season. Lovejoy quarterback Quintarius Neely will get his first start in a “real” game at quarterback. He will operate under an experienced offensive line. The Wildcats revamped defense will be tested against an experienced Mundy’s Mill offense. Two of the best returning running backs in the area will go up against each other. Rodney Smith of Mundy’s Mill had 1,575 yards and 18 touchdowns before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Game 9 against Ola. Jeremiah Kirkland, who rushed for 2,052 yards and 27 touchdowns at Landmark Christian last season, is the new starting running back for the Wildcats.
Luella at Lowndes: This is the first senior class for Luella coach Nick Vasilchek. There is some enthusiasm about making the playoffs with a large senior class. The first test, is a big task as the Lions make the trek to Winnersville (Valdosta) to take on one of the top powerhouse programs in Class AAAAAA. Luella has been to the postseason only once in its nine-year history while Lowndes is a playoff regular out of top Region 1-AAAAAA. Lowndes defeated Thomasville 41-0 in a scrimmage two weeks ago. In the scrimmage, the Vikings varsity defense forced four fumbles, recovering three, along with an interception while holding Thomasville to only 72 yards on the ground.
Dutchtown at Griffin: The Kevin Jones era begins with a bang. The new Bulldogs coach will have to travel to Griffin’s Memorial Stadium to take on one of the state’s top programs. Griffin is one of the favorites to win the Region 4-AAAA title this season. The Bears return most of their offensive skill positions, but have had to find help on the offensive line where all five have graduated. Last year, Griffin rallied from a 16-7 halftime deficit to top Dutchtown 42-16 in the season opener.
Briarwood Christian at ELCA: Mother Nature got the most of top-ranked ELCA in its season-opener at Washington County last week. The game was called due to lightning as the Chargers trailed 6-0 early in the first half against the Class AAA team. Briarwood is an unranked Class AAAAA team out of Birmingham, but should be a test for the Chargers. This will be the third meeting between the two schools with each winning on the road.
North Clayton vs. Riverdale: The highlight of this neighborhood rivalry will be the debut of the two new coaches running the programs. Terry Herrod will lead the Riverdale program after three years as defensive coordinator at Dutchtown. James Soza is in his first season at North Clayton after stops at Carver-Atlanta, Southwest DeKalb and Chamblee. Herrod’s group won their scrimmage last week against Carver-Atlanta while Drew defeated North Clayton in its exhibition game. This will be a show of two programs that headed in opposite directions last season as Riverdale made the playoffs for the first time since 2005 while North Clayton suffered through one of its worst seasons in school history with a 2-8 finish.