You’re probably sitting there right now reading this scratching your head about my headline above saying, Football is back! What does that mean?
Yes, I know the Georgia high school football season officially kicked off in mid-August with the Newton County area beginning on Thursday, Aug. 18 at Sharp Stadium.
The Newton Rams defeated Hapeville Charter 20-19 in Week 1 to start the season 1-0.
But, when I say football is back, I’m not meaning the regular season. I mean the “real” part of the season has officially begun.
With Newton’s matchup against Grayson Thursday night, all three Newton County teams have started their respective region schedules. And, at this point in the season, something feels different.
I was sitting in a chair on the sideline an hour before Eastside and Loganville kicked off at Red Devil Stadium. As I looked around, there was a different atmosphere to the stadium. The fans piling in had an electric energy all night. Players seemed to play with more purpose (not that they didn’t before Thursday) and it seemed like there was more on the line.
And come to think of it, there was.
Each region game Alcovy, Eastside and Newton plays determines their playoff seeding and whether or not the team actually qualifies for the postseason in the first place. These games from now on carry more weight than non-region contests do by far.
Alcovy, Eastside and Newton have had success in recent years competing in region play when there’s more on the line.
For example, Alcovy claimed the Region 3-AAAAAA championship last year and the Tigers were runners up two seasons ago. Eastside has done so well in Region 8–AAAAA that the Eagles have qualified for the state playoffs six years running and won the region title in 2018.
Then, Newton has qualified for the state playoffs 10 out of the past 11 years and won the region trophy in 2015. Every game from here on out will play a significant role in seeing these local teams continue their success in 2022.
Thursday night’s scene between Loganville and Eastside, as well as Alcovy’s region matches against Mundy’s Mill and Woodward Academy that I covered, was filled with anticipation and expectation by the fanbase and motivation from the players.
It just means more.
So, yes, football has been back since mid-August, I know. But now, the intensity strengthens as each Newton County school battles to punch their tickets to the state playoffs.