By James Butler
In Part 1 of our look at the top 25 anticipated football games for the upcoming season we start with games pitting Southern Crescent teams against other Southern Crescent teams, both non-region and region. Almost every season there are intriguing non-region matchups pitting unfamiliar teams against each other, and since this is Year 1 of the GHSA’s most recent reclassification, some region contests will also match unfamiliar teams against each other.
To make it more interesting, most of those new region mates just happen to be county foes. However, we will start with a look at the non-region games and begin with a Henry County battle.
ELCA at Eagle’s Landing, Fri., Aug. 19
The long awaited meeting between the Ch
argers and the Golden Eagles finally takes place. Eagle’s Landing will host its defending Class A Private School Champion neighbors in a matchup with plenty of bragging rights at stake.
Spalding at Griffin, Fri., Aug. 26
With Spalding on its way up and Griffin introducing a new head coach, this county rivalry
maybe looking at a role reversal on who is the hammer and who is the nail. The Jaguars blowout win over Griffin last season could be an indicator of that, so new Bears’ head coach Antonio Andrews can gain a lot of support by beating Spalding.
Jonesboro at ELCA, Fri., Aug. 26
ELCA and head coach Jonathan Gess always plays a tough non-region schedule, so scheduling Clayton County’s best team from 2015 is not surprising. However, the Cardinals (pictured) will have to reload with key losses on both sides of the ball.
Spalding at Jonesboro (Twelve Oaks) Fri., Sept. 2
Following the visit to ELCA Jonesboro hosts an upstart Spalding team. Some of the more talented players on a Jaguar team that won nine games and advanced to the second round of playoffs a season ago were juniors, so in travelling to Jonesboro, Spalding has an opportunity to make some early-season noise.
Stockbridge at Lovejoy Sat., Sept. 3
Stockbridge is at its zenith as a program, while Lovejoy is looking to return to its high-water mark of a few seasons ago. Football dreamers would’ve loved to see these two squads battle it out three or four years ago. But even now, it should be an intriguing matchup of Henry and Clayton County talent.
Sandy Creek at Starr’s Mill, Fri., Sept. 16
Both teams’ season did not end the way they wanted to last year, so this rare Fayette County meeting will serve as another measuring stick before they turn their full attention to region play. Both teams will feature several of the area’s top ground attacks.
Lovejoy at Drew (Southern Crescent Stadium), Fri., Sept. 23
With three of Clayton County’s biggest football hotbeds in the new Region 4-AAAAA, Clayton fans can finally settle some longstanding arguments. The first much-anticipated matchup is the Wildcats visiting the Titans. Drew graduated some very god players, head coach Dorwyn Lyles’ program is developing a reputation of replacing talent with talent. The two teams had an intense scrimmage last season, but this meeting will count.
Stockbridge at Locust Grove, Fri., Sept. 30
Moving up to Region 4-AAAAA, the Wildcats will get a chance to go head-to-head against fellow Henry County school Stockbridge. The Tigers have emerged as perhaps the top football program currently in the Southern Crescent, so Locust Grove will know where it stands in the county and the area.
Woodland at Eagle’s Landing, Fri., Oct. 28
In another Henry County and Region 4-AAAAA matchup, Eagle’s Landing and Woodland might be fighting for a playoff spot. Both teams had winning records, but narrowly missed the playoffs in their respective regions a season ago. Dutchtown, who visits Locust Grove (Oct. 7) and Woodland (Oct. 14),
also might factor into the discussion.
Jonesboro at Lovejoy, Fri., Oct. 28
When the two teams last met Lovejoy was beginning its two-year run of state runner-up finishes. Jonesboro, the other Clayton hotbed for talent in Region 4-AAAAA, had its best year in program history a season ago, so it may be Lovejoy heading into the game with a point to prove.
Drew at Jonesboro (Tara), Thur., Nov. 3
The Titans and Cardinals will get to close out the regular season with some input on the region race as well as county pride. Once again, impressive talent should litter the field as both teams look to take the title as the preeminent team in Clayton.