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New coaching eras set to begin in Clayton County

Drew senior running back Marquis Terry will lead the Titans into Thursday’s season-opener against visiting Fayette County at Southern Crescent Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Drew senior running back Marquis Terry will lead the Titans into Thursday’s season-opener against visiting Fayette County at Southern Crescent Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

UPCOMING GAMES

Thursday

Spalding vs. Forest Park (T), 7 p.m.

Fayette County vs. Drew (SC), 7 p.m.

Friday

Lovejoy vs. Mundy’s Mill (TO)

Jonesboro at Sandy Creek

Riverdale vs. North Carolina (SC)

Morrow vs. Mount Zion (T)

All games start at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted

Stadium key: SC — Southern Crescent, T — Tara, TO — Twelve Oaks

Game week is finally here for teams in the county.

After being idle the first week of the season, all nine county teams will take to the field this week to open the season.

Forest Park and Drew, which have new coaches, will be the first two schools in the county to play when they open the season on Thursday evening. Forest Park will host Spalding at Tara Stadium while Fayette County will take on Drew at Southern Crescent Stadium.

Both games have a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Forest Park coach Reginald Austin is trying to be the first first-year coach of the Panthers to win a season opener since the 2008 season. Spalding is coached by former Riverdale coach Nick Davis, who is in his third season at the school.

Fayette County lost to county rival McIntosh 28-25 in the season opener for both teams.

Here are some other games involving county schools:

Lovejoy vs. Mundy’s Mill: It is billed as “The Big Cat Classic”, these two rivals will meet for the 11th time in this neighborhood rivalry. Lovejoy owes an 8-2 advantage and have won the last six times. This will be the head coaching debut of Wildcats coach Edgar Carson, who took over this past offseason for Al Hughes. This game will provide Mundy’s Mill with a gauge to see if it has closed the gap with Lovejoy as far as on-field performance.

Jonesboro at Sandy Creek: Sandy Creek, which entered the season ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA, hasn’t lost a regular season game since the start of the 2009 with a 28-27 double overtime loss at East Coweta. The Patriots started last season with a tie to Plant High of Tampa. This game will feature some of the top prospects in both the senior and junior classes in the state. Sandy Creek opened the season with a xx-xx win over then-second ranked Archer of Class AAAAAA in the annual Corky Kell Classic. The Patriots were led by running back Eric Swinney, an Ole Miss commitment. In the win over Archer, Swinney rushed for 220 yards. Last season, he led the team, which lost to Griffin in the state quarterfinals with 1,289 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns.

Morrow vs. Mount Zion: This will start the Kevin “Bull” Jones era at Mount Zion. The Bulldogs will be looking to snap an 11-game losing streak. Jones is 1-1 in season openers with one-year stops at Dutchtown (2013) and Riverdale (2006). Morrow comes into the season with a seven-game losing streak. Mount Zion has a 9-7 lead in the series after having won the last seven meetings. The Mustangs last win over Morrow came in 1998.

Riverdale vs. North Clayton: This will mark the 31st meeting between the schools as Riverdale holds an 18-12 lead in the series. The Raiders have won the last two meetings by a combined score of 68-0 during the 2012 and ‘13 seasons. Before then, North Clayton owed the series winning five straight times by outscoring the Raiders 124-35 during that stretch. Both teams are led by second-year coaches.