Football season in Newton County kicks off Thursday as Alcovy officially begins the 2012 season by hosting Jones County at Sharp Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers kick things off in Region 2-AAAAAA in the state's highest and newest classification, after competing in Region 3-AAAA, along with Jones County, a year ago.
This season, both teams are in different regions, changing slightly Alcovy and coach Kirk Hoffman's approach to the Greyhounds.
"A lot of times you have to look at non-region games differently," Hoffman said. "Your goal for non-region games is to get better and try to play good football when region comes."
Alcovy's region play doesn't begin until meeting Luella on Sept. 28, but will still work toward winning as many football games as it can.
The 2011 season marked Alcovy's best yet, as it reached the playoffs behind a 6-5 ledger, finishing 5-1 in region. The Tigers put together a five-game winning streak midway through the season, with a victory over Jones County marking the last one of the stretch.
Alcovy won the Oct. 7 matchup at Jones County with a 44-28 win behind four touchdowns from Devon Edwards. The game also marked the second start of the season by Marcus Williams, who had to fill in for Cornell White, who was out with an injury.
Williams will get the start Thursday, sharing time at the quarterback position with Cornell White and Clayton Anderson.
"Marcus is probably one of the smarter football players that I've got," Hoffman said. "We expect him to play a solid game."
Williams will also see time on defense, where Alcovy will field its strongest unit.
"Defensively, they're going to have to carry us early," Hoffman said. "We're still looking for some timing issues on offense. At times, we look pretty good on offense and at times, we struggle a bit. Timing is not where it needs to be right now."
However, Hoffman seems to be excited about his team's defense and is hoping it can carry Alcovy through the first part of the season.
"Defensively, we're going to be fun to watch," Hoffman said.
The Tigers' defense will be challenged right away as Jones County will bring one of the toughest running backs of the season in senior Undre Williams.
"Jones County has a lot of kids back and its running back is one of the better ones, in my mind, in Georgia," Hoffman said. "We're going to see how disciplined of a football team we are come Thursday."
Jones County came just one game shy of the playoffs last season, falling in the play-in game which Williams missed due to injury.
He is healthy and ready to go Thursday, and will be featured heavily in the Greyhounds' Wing-T offense.
"Their coach, over there, does an outstanding job," Hoffman said. "He's going to line up and play hard-nosed football. He's going to run the ball first."
The Tigers and the Greyhounds shared a region a year ago, but Jones County advanced up only one classification, while Alcovy moved up two.
After playing nine of its 10 regular season games as region matchups a year ago, the Tigers will play six region opponents this season. The fewer amount of region opponents allowed Alcovy to schedule Jones County, along with Perry, Eastside and Jackson as non-region opponents.
But regardless of which region the Tigers' first foe comes from, they are eager to get the 2012 season started.
"I don't think there's a head coach out there in high school football who's not eager to get things going and get the first game under their belt," Hoffman said. "Players and coaches work so hard in the preseason and all summer kind of an excitement builds up for the first game."