COVINGTON, Ga. -- Although the football season kicked off weeks ago, any coach in the area will tell you that this week is when really when the season begins.
Non-region play — typically the first five games of the season — has officially given way to region play, and all four of our Georgia High School Association area schools will indulge into the part of the schedule that determines whether or not postseason play is in the cards.
Three of the area’s schools — Newton, Eastside and Social Circle — will begin, in earnest, this all-important “second season” on the road, while Alcovy hosts Grovetown Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Actually for Eastside, as it travels to face Druid Hills (1-4, 0-1), it’ll be the Eagles’ second dip into the Region 4-AAAA pool of competition. Eastside hosted, and defeated, region foe Luella by a score of 50-6 to open the season. But even after such an impressive season opener, Eastside coach, Troy Hoff says he believes he’ll trot out a much improved team, now that the region gauntlet is firmly upon us.
“Yeah, we have grown up,” Hoff said. “And that’s part of it. You can’t fast forward it. You can’t microwave it. It’s gotta happen as you play, and a lot of it is taking place in practice and behind the scenes.”
Eastside’s (4-1, 1-0) only blemish is a 40-0 loss to Newton — a Class AAAAAAA school that has aspirations of playing for region titles, even with No. 3 Archer and defending Class AAAAAAA state champion, No. 1 Grayson on its region schedule.
In fact, every school the Eagles have played in the non-region schedule have been schools in larger classifications. Hoff believes the tough non-region matchups have served as an integral part of his team’s maturation process.
“We want non-region games to test us, and they did,” He said. “We’ve gone against some good opponents. Last week against Oconee (County) was another quality opponent outside of our class. It was a four-quarter war. We made some plays when we had to, and going into this week, that helps, coming off a good win and a good week of practice. Now they all really count.”
In addition Eastside at Druid Hills and Alcovy hosting Grovetown, here are the other region matchups in the area to watch:
Newton (4-1) at South Gwinnett (1-4): The Rams are finishing up their four-game road trip with a matchup against a South Gwinnett team that is typically good, but has struggled coming out of the gates with new head coach Steven Davenport who came over from Woodland-Stockbridge. The Comets’ lone win is a 17-3 victory over Lanier. But South Gwinnett has played three of its other four opponents to within a touchdown. The lone exception is its 35-7 loss at the hands of Brookwood. Meanwhile, in five games, Newton has either steamrolled or been steamrolled. The Rams want to continue proving that the 57-0 loss to No. 2 Lowndes was an aberration. And they did a good job of that by spanking Heritage-Conyers last week 48-17. Coach Terrance Banks will try to keep his bunch from looking ahead to next Friday’s home tilt against No. 3 Archer.
Social Circle (2-3, 1-0) at Elbert County (4-1, 1-0): For the second straight season, Social Circle comes into a game with Elbert County 1-0 in Region 2-AA play after an impressive win against Oglethorpe County last week. Elbert County opened region play last week with a 56-7 win against Putnam County, and has shown itself a dangerous team, having consistently garnered votes in various Top 10 high school football polls. The Redskins are looking to go 2-0 in region play for the first time in the Chad Estes era.