As a kid in school, I couldn't wait for the summer. Now, as a grown-up sports writer, I have the same anxiety for the Fall. And it's not just about football either.
There is a point in the fall where the NBA, MLB, the NFL and college football are all going full throttle at the same time. It creates a smorgasbord of sports goodies for the causal fan or the diehard. But throw into that mix Friday Night Lights, high school softball and volleyball with a little cross country and an approaching basketball season mixed in, and it's like sensory overload.
So excuse the fact that I'm already looking ahead — especially when it comes to Southern Crescent football. I'll round out this week's Starting Five with five games Southern Crescent football fans may want to put on their "I've gotta see it" lists:
No. 1. Lovejoy vs. Mundy's Mill, Sept. 30: As happy as Greg Manior is about Mundy's Mill's summer success coming off of first-season momentum, he knows that none of it means anything if it doesn't translate to "W's" in the season. Lovejoy's going to be breaking in new faces all over the field offensively. This one should be closer than last year's 44-6 Lovejoy drubbing.
No. 2. Union Grove at Whitewater, Sept. 20: Last year, Whitewater came into Union Grove and smoked the Wolverines to the tune of 39-0. Union Grove never looked like that team again as it went on to a 10-2 season, losing narrowly in the playoffs to eventual Class AAAAA runner-up Ware County. You'd have to think Union Grove would love nothing more than to go to Whitewater and return the favor.
No. 3. Stockbridge at Dutchtown, Oct. 18: When these two teams locked up last season, Dutchtown was 5-2 and Stockbridge 5-1. It was expected to be a battle for region title positioning. But the Tigers used the 45-19 blowout to solidify itself as a serious state title contender. New Dutchtown coach Kevin Jones wasn't on the sidelines to see that one. But you can believe he'll prepare his team for the rematch as if he were.
No. 4. Dutchtown at Riverdale, Sept. 20: Talk about a natural rivalry. In 2012, the Bulldogs easily disposed of a Riverdale team that came into the game ranked No. 6 in Class by the Associated Press. Both teams have new coaches with fire in their bellies. And, by the way, the Riverdale coach, Terry Herrod, is the old Dutchtown defense coordinator. These teams were getting after it against each other real good, complete with a little trash talking, a couple of weeks ago at Lovejoy's 7-on-7 Passing League. This one should be fun.
No. 5. Griffin at Stockbridge, Sept. 27: Stockbridge made history in 2012 when then-senior kicker Andres Guillen booted a 28-yard field goal to give the Tigers — and Henry County — their first-ever win against the powerhouse from Spalding County. The Bears bring their show to Tiger Stadium this year. Any time two equally loaded region and state title contenders square off in midseason, look for fireworks.
Next Wednesday everyone takes a pause for the cause during Georgia High School Sports Association dead week, and I’ll take a microscopic look at five players that could be poised to have breakout seasons. Stay tuned.
Gabriel Stovall covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him @GabrielStovall.