We’ve had a week to think back on the opening weekend of the 2019 high school football season, and it was a weekend that saw rivals renew their battles and the return of fans to stadiums around our area. From the Reservation in Toccoa to Memorial Stadium in Jefferson, our regions fall passion renewed it’s hold on fans, both young and old.
One fan of high school football that made its presence felt in a loud and Boisterous way was the weather this past weekend. A series of thunderstorms in the area added to the fireworks on the field. Multiple games in the area had weather delays which made for late nights for fans and players alike, as multiple games in our area had weather delays from lightning.
Across the region, there were two games that brought the attention of fans. In Hartwell, the Hart County Bulldogs snapped a four game losing streak to arch rival Elbert County, 39-7, before a full house at Hart’s Herndon Stadium. The Bulldogs used three special team plays, a blocked field goal and punt, along with a 88 yard kickoff return to start the second half to take control of the game. Hart’s Luke Lee was 9 of 12 for the game for 191 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Hart offense, while on defense the Bulldogs held Elbert County to less than 150 yards on the ground.
Next week, the Bulldogs travel to Toccoa to take on the Stephens County Indians in a matchup of week one winners, while Elbert faces neighbor Washington Wilkes at the Granite Bowl in Elberton.
At Toccoa, the Indians of Stephens County pulled away from rival Franklin to defeat the Lions 42-21 in the season opener. This game was one of the area games that was affected by the weather as play was suspended in the second period for over 1 hour.. This is the tenth win in a row for Stephens against Franklin County. Hudson Spurlock lead the Indians on the ground, carrying the ball 21 times for 164 yards and scoring 5 touchdowns.
In the wild game of the night, Oconee County’s Darius Johnson scored with less than 4 minutes left in the final quarter to lead the Warriors to a 21-20 win over the Jefferson Dragons in a game played at Jefferson.
Congratulations to both East Jackson and Jackson on winning their opening games of the 2019 season. East Jackson survived a long field goal attempt by Lumpkin County in the final seconds to give first year coach Cameron Pettus the win by the score of 25-22. Nino Brown scored two touchdowns for the Eagles as they won their season opener for the first time since 2013. The Rich McWhorter era at Jackson County opened with a 7-0 win for the panthers over Banks County.
Both Monroe Area and Morgan County opened their 2019 season with wins. Defending Region 8-AAA champion Monroe Area opened the season at home, with an 18-7 win over Apalachee, while Morgan County defeated Loganville High School by the score of 38-17 in a game played at Madison Georgia
Elsewhere, Madison County fell to Cedar Shoals in Athens by the score of 18 – 8, in another of the games impacted by weather, and Habersham Central fell to Dawson County 27-13 in a game at Dawsonville. Habersham Central will host Madison County next Friday in a game in Mt. Airy Georgia.
Now that we have looked back to the games of this past weekend, let’s look ahead to the games across the area this Friday night in week 2 of the high school football season.
In one of the only game in our area involving teams that won this past weekend takes place at the Reservation at Stephens County High School on Friday. The 1- 0 Hart County Bulldogs take on the 1-0 Stephens County Indians in the 96th meeting between teams from the two counties. While this series may not have the recognition or prestige of the Elbert County and Hart County matchup, the winner of this game has often gone onto Region and post-season success.
This years matchup features two of the best running backs in Northeast Georgia. Stephens County is lead on the ground by Hudson Spurlock. The senior , who has committed to play at the United States Air Force Academy, opened the 2019 season against Franklin with a 21 carry 164 yard night with 5 touchdowns. Spurlock was one of two Indian runners to gain more than 100 yards against Franklin County last Friday.
Hart County counters with Malachi Thomas. The junior had 90 yards on 10 carries for the Bulldogs, while adding two receptions against Elbert for 69 yards. A win over the Indians on Friday would mark the first time since 2009 that Hart County would have defeated both Stephens County and Elbert County in the same season.
In speaking about Fridays game, Stephens County’s Wesley Tankersley said of the matchup,” Hart County is a very good and experienced football team that has a lot of talent.” He said that his Indians must be able, “to limit Hart County’s big play capability, and we need to do a good job with time of possession. We must keep Hart’s offense on the bench.”
Down in Elberton at the Granite Bowl, the Blue Devils look to get their first win of the season when they host Washington Wilkes in another neighborhood get together. The Blue Devils lost their season opener to Hart County 39-7 in Hartwell, while this is the season opener for Washington Wilkes.
In looking back at last weeks game with Hart, first year Head Coach Brad Waggoner said, “we got beat by team (Hart) that was better than us that night. We made too many mistakes in the game to beat a team like Hart”. When asked about his thoughts about the game with Washington Wilkes, he said “ we playing a team in Washington Wilkes that is a lot like we are. They have great skill players and we must get better with the fundamentals of football to be successful. This game is just the second game of ten that we will play this year and we must continue to get better each week to reach the goals that we have set for this team.”
In other games involving teams from Region 8-AAA, Jackson County looks to move to 2 – 0 for the first time since 2017 when they travel to Gainesville to take on North Hall, who is currently ranked # 9 in the state in Class AAA. The Panthers opened the Rich McWhorter era last Friday when they defeated Banks County 7-0.
Franklin County and Banks County meet in Homer Georgia, with both teams looking for their first win of the year. Franklin County fell to Stephens County 42-21, while Banks lost 7-0 to Jackson County. Morgan County and Monroe Area will look to move their records to 2-0 when they take on Loganville and Greene County. Up in Mt Airy, the Red Raiders of Madison County face the Raiders of Habersham-Central in the home opener for Habersham Central.
East Jackson, who opened their season with a win over Lumpkin County has the week off before they play host to the Patriots of Oglethorpe County, and Jefferson looks to bounce back next week against West Hall.
The 2019 season in South Carolina, gets into full gear this weekend. Highlighting the schedule is TL Hanna who plays host to Emerald High School from Greenwood SC. Jason Tone takes over for the retired Jeff Heron at TL Hanna., The Yellow Jackets fell in the 2018 South Carolina title game to Dutch Fork High School, in Herron’s final season as coach. TL Hanna’s Anderson neighbor, Westside, opens their season on Friday traveling to Boiling Springs.
Other games in South Carolina include, Crescent at Blacksburg, Pendleton at Pickens, Seneca and Chapman, Daniel at Easley, and West Oak traveling to Walhalla.