What to watch: Week 2
The 2016 season seal was broken last week, and there were a few notable wins and losses. However, Week 2 marks the debut of AA’s top-ranked team – the Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane (with one “s”). The Purple Hurricane come out of the gate playing stiff competition in the Irwin County Indians, A-public’s No. 5 team.
This Fitzgerald-Irwin County rivalry is long-running, with the two teams playing every season dating back to 1954. The past points to a Purple Hurricane win in 2016, as they are 15-0-1 over the Indians dating back to 2000, with the teams tying 20-20 in 2013. Fitzgerald won last year, 35-14 and 40-12 the year before.
It’s possible this year’s game is close for a few reasons. First, both teams were state runners up last year. Also, the Indians already have a game under their belt. Last week they handily beat Berrien 42-7, a team that plays alongside the Purple Hurricane in Region 1. Getting a chance to fine-tune as a team should benefit Irwin County, but Fitzgerald will have the best player on the field in AJC Super 11 running back JD King.
The other matchup involving two ranked teams is the Jones County Greyhounds (AAAAA’s No. 9) at the No. 10 Washington County Golden Hawks. The Hawks will be making their season debut, while the Greyhounds — who opened the season ranked No. 6 — were edged 20-13 by AAAAAA’s then-No. 7 Lee County in a Corky Kell Classic matchup at Mercer.
In another notable game, the No. 6 Callaway Cavaliers travel across state lines to play the Handley (Roanoke, Ala.) Tigers, an AAAA program unranked by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Though unranked, the Tigers are a bubble team in one of the state’s most wide-open classifications and received votes in this week’s poll.
The Cavs beat LaGrange 37-6 last week, while the Tigers make their season debut after closing their preseason with a scrimmage win last week over Bremen. This will be the first time Callaway and Handley have played.
Other matchups involving ranked AA teams: AAA’s Appling County at No. 3 Vidalia; No. 5 Jefferson County at AAAAA’s Lakeside-Evans; No. 7 Elbert County at A-Public Washington-Wilkes; No. 8 Rabun County at A-private Mount Pisgah.
AA ranked teams with a bye this week: No. 2 Benedictine; No. 4 Brooks County; No. 9 Dodge County.
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