What to watch: Week 1
Tonight marks the start of the football season for AA’s top 10 teams, beginning with No. 10 Heard County traveling to unranked South Atlanta for a 7:30 kickoff at Lakewood Stadium. The state’s top-ranked team, Fitzgerald, will sit opening week out on a bye. Despite the Purple Hurricane’s absence, there are several Friday night games to keep an eye on.
We’ll start with a pair of No. 2-ranked prorgrams in Savannah. The Benedictine Cadets will play AAAAAA’s Glynn Academy Red Terrors at Savannah State. Under coach Danny Britt, The Cadets have never been a team to shy away from competition to open their season, having faced playoff teams in each of Britt’s first five seasons at Benedictine. The previous two seasons they opened against powerhouse GAC.
To open this season they’ll play the Red Terrors for the first time since 2003, when they won 38-17. The Cadets own a 40-20-1 series edge over Glynn Academy. The Red Terrors are in Year 3 under coach Rocky Hidalgo and came within a score of winning the AAAAA state championship last year, falling 10-6 to Allatoona at the Georgia Dome. The Cadets, who entered last season as the defending state champs, won their first 12 games before losing 54-28 to Fitzgerald in the quarterfinals.
With big matchups taking place in metro Atlanta during events including the Corky Kell Classic, it might be easy to overlook the matchup taking place in south Georgia. But make no mistake, this game will determine significant bragging rights for the city of Savannah.
There’s one matchup this week involving top 10 teams within AA both named the Indians. No. 3 Vidalia will travel to take on No. 9 Dodge County in a non-region contest. Vidalia will be gunning for their eight consecutive winning season, with coach Lee Chomskis in his 10th season with the program. The Indians advanced to the second round of last year’s playoffs before GAC eliminated them with a 48-22 win. Dodge County drops down this season from AAA, where it was also eliminated in the second round, 23-8 by Elbert County — it’s only loss of the season.
Dodge County owns a 6-5 series edge, though Vidalia won the last matchup 49-36 in 2009.
The third top 10 matchup involving an AA team takes place when the A-private No. 9 Savannah Christian Raiders play at the No. 5 Jefferson County Warriors in Louisville. This will be the first-ever matchup between the two programs. The Warriors finished 11-3 last season, with Fitzgerald beating them 40-20 in the semifinals. The Raiders advanced to the A-private quarterfinals last year.
Other matchups involving AA’s top 1o teams: AAA’s unranked Cook at No. 4 Brooks County; AAAA’s unranked LaGrange at No. 5 Callaway; No. 7 Elbert County at AAA’s unranked Hart County; No. 8 Rabun Count at Class A-private’s unranked Mount Pisgah Christian.
Follow Class AA coverage on Twitter.