For the next 15 weeks, the paths to the Super 6 in Auburn will take many twists and turns, and they all begin here.
It's also time to see if I did all my homework.
Those aforementioned scrimmages and jamborees, as well as afternoon practices and polls, can only tell a sportswriter so much. I really wish there was a video game like NCAA Football ’13 for the 2012 high school football season. That way, I could play out a simulated season, especially for this week, because as always, the first week of the regular season is a tough one to pick. I know there’s no substitute for the real thing, but hey, I could use any little help I can get.
There are five games on the opening week slate in the area, two of which are rivalry games. I just hope I can come out of the gate with a good start.
Now where did I put that rabbit’s foot? Oh yeah, it’s in my desk drawer right next to my lucky penny.
Coosa Christian at Collinsville (Thursday): Life without Nathan Coker begins for the Panthers, but don’t think senior quarterback C.J. Jones isn’t capable of making some big things happen. After all, he’s seen some time at the position before.
I look for Jones and company to have a big night at home. The Panthers will conquer the Conquerors ... Collinsville 35, Coosa Christian 7.
Gaylesville at Cedar Bluff (Thursday): I know every team is hyped up for the beginning of a new season, but the Cedar Bluff Tigers have an added incentive. They’re playing their first game at newly renovated L.D. Bruce Field.
But senior tailback John David Jennings and company aren’t just going to hand Cedar Bluff a win to help it christen its new digs. The Trojans are always a team with a strong work ethic who plays hard, and I expect this bunch will carry on that tradition this season.
Some big things are expected at Cedar Bluff this year, especially with 16 seniors and many of those returning at the skill positions. Here’s thinking that comes into play throughout the game ... Cedar Bluff 27, Gaylesville 13.
Fayetteville at Spring Garden: Speaking of extra hype, there’s some of that going down in the Garden. The Panthers welcome Jason Howard back on the sideline. A lot of the current Panthers were just cutting their teeth when Howard left for Ohatchee two seasons ago, but they’ve grown into a team Jason Howard is known to coach: tough and physical.
For those teams thinking Spring Garden is a one-dimensional team with senior running back Forrest Livingston, think again. Junior running back Tyler Morgan and junior quarterback Will Ivey impressed me during the Panthers’ jamboree games last Thursday at Sand Rock. Folks, that trio are going to be a load to handle this season.
I know Spring Garden had a case of the jitters that night with the fumbles, but I expect they’ll get that under control at practice this week and wound the Wolves ... Spring Garden 28, Fayetteville 14.
Sand Rock at Pisgah: Sand Rock also impressed me at times during its jamboree action last Thursday. Junior quarterback Dylan Mackey appeared calm in the pocket, and just missed on a couple of passes. Again, that’s nothing that can’t be worked out at practice.
I was also impressed with how well Chandler Mackey and Austin Chambers carried the football. Sand Rock coach Russell Jacoway told me it’s going to be running back by committee this season with the loss of Chad Thompson, and that duo looks capable of handling that duty.
Here’s thinking the Wildcats make the necessary tweaks at practice this week and get 2012 off to a soaring start at Pisgah ... Sand Rock 21, Pisgah 16.
Cherokee County at Piedmont: I went to Piedmont’s first day of practice in pads earlier this month, and man, were the Dogs dishing out the hits on defense.
Coach Steve Smith feels that’s the strength of this team, but that’s not to say the Bulldog offense isn’t loaded too.
Senior quarterback Cade Bradley completed his first 11 passes and threw for over 100 yards and a touchdown in last week’s jamboree victory at Jacksonville. Six different Dogs caught a pass, and Piedmont also rushed for 259 yards as a team.
Equally as impressive in its jamboree action was the Cherokee County Warriors. The defense didn’t yield a point in wins over Geraldine and Sardis last Friday.
On offense, senior quarterback Tanner Young appeared to be in midseason form, and seems to have found a favorite target in fellow senior Logan Pierce. The Warriors also have a solid backfield in senior D.J. McAllister and junior Ty Green.
This should be one of the best games in the state opening weekend, especially since it’s a rivalry game. I expect it to go down to the wire, but the Class 3A, No. 3 Bulldogs are playing at home, and I think that counts for something ... Piedmont 26, Cherokee County 21.