After a Homecoming whirlwind of high school football action this past weekend, although I was away from the area, The Covington News’ sports staff did a phenomenal job chronicling the action.
So, looking back at the week that was, as we prepare to forge ahead beyond the midpoint of the season, I’ll give you a cumulative “Five Things” list of things we learned from the football week. I may even throw in a couple extra since it’s been a while.
Here we go:
1. Newton’s got that ‘get-back’ gene in them. It would’ve been easy for the Rams to tuck tail and run after getting spanked down in Valdosta two Fridays ago. And I admit, leading up to the bounce back game, I wondered a couple of times how Newton would respond on the road for the third straight time against a decent, if not overpowering, Heritage-Conyers team with a solid quarterback in Caleb Pruitt. Lay an egg, and you start to second guess the strength of this team. Win, and nothing seems lost for coach Terrance Banks’ bunch. What Newton did was almost equivalent to what Lowndes did to the Rams. In a flash, Newton went up 21-0 on Heritage and never looked back for a 48-17 win. They got better in a big way. Now, the last of a four-game road stint takes Newton to South Gwinnett to open the season. Win big and put the game out of reach early, and the Rams should be feeling good heading into back-to-back games with No. 3 Archer and No. 1 Grayson with a bye-week sandwiched in between.
2. Eastside and Oconee County should get together more often. I mean, if the last two games are any indication, this could be the makings of a good non-region rivalry. Eastside’s 5-1 in the series, and won three of those five by a combined score of 114-14. But the last two games have been classics. The Eagles clipped Oconee in Watkinsville last year, 32-31. Then Friday at Sharp Stadium, junior Jamari Brown’s pass break-up in the end zone on the game’s final play helped secure a 20-16 win for Eastside. For the last two years it looks like these two teams have brought out the best in each other. Watkinsville is only 38 miles away, and Eastside coach Troy Hoff and Oconee coach, Travis Noland are pretty well acquainted. I don’t think anyone who’s seen the last two matchups between these teams would complain for a part three next year, even as schedules and regions are set to be retooled through the GHSA’s reclassification process after this season.
3. Alcovy’s win against Forest Park was bigger than you think. You check the score, and it was 35-6, Tigers.. You check the opponent and you see it was 0-5 Forest Park, loser of 34 of its last 35 games stretching back to the 2014 season. Now you’re saying, “Big deal,” right? Well it is a big deal, considering that Alcovy only managed a 7-6 victory against Forest Park last year. And I’ve always believed that a telltale sign of progress in a rebuilding or emerging program is its ability to easily handle teams it should easily handle. Alcovy was more talented than Forest Park last year, and the same is true this year. But this season, with a second year under coach Chris Edgar, and with more experience, Alcovy handled the Panthers the way it should have. Now, at 3-2 and heading into its Region 3-AAAAAA opener at home, it’s time to really see how much progress the Tigers have made a year after going winless in region play.
4. True test of Social Circle’s playoff readiness begins Friday. Beating Oglethorpe, as the Redskins did last Friday by a score of 41-7, is nothing new. It’s Social Circle’s third straight win over its region foe. And each year, opening region play with a win, the ‘Skins have ended the season the same way — without a playoff berth. Well, coach Chad Estes said in the preseason that it’s playoffs or bust this season. And while Social Circle’s offense looked crisp against Oglethorpe, and while its been far more competitive than in years past, we can’t really use Oglethorpe to gauge how Social Circle will fair in the region. So this week’s game at Elbert County is a huge one. If Social Circle can hang with, or even beat Elbert County on the road, it may be the opening paragraph to a whole new narrative for Estes’ bunch.
5. There are still lots of unanswered questions about all our teams. And being that we’re at the midway point of the season, we’ve still got a lot of football left to answer those questions. Thought teams have played five games, I still get the sense that we’ve not seen any of our four GHSA schools hit their stride just yet. There will be plenty of opportunities for each team to prove itself in marquee matchups. Here’s hoping that in five more weeks, we’ll still have four teams to write about — Playoff teams.
BONUS THOUGHTS: The public schools aren't the only ones out here pushing for postseason possibilities. The Peachtree Academy Panthers of the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association are 4-1 after defeating Harvester Christian Academy 39-13 this past Friday. After dropping its season opener, the Panthers have ripped off four impressive victories in a row. Last season its baseball and tennis teams won GICAA state championships. Right now, the football team looks to be riding some of that momentum. Look for a more in-depth feature story on Peachtree Academy football in the next few days.