While strength of schedule will play a part in determining the playoff teams in GHSA Class A for at least the next couple of years, teams like Northside, Peach County, Perry and Mary Persons werent affected by that change.
That didnt keep those teams from lining up difficult season openers Friday, and they deserve a huge pat on the back for playing those kinds of games.
Those teams could have gone for easier openers to get a first win under their belts. That would make their fans feel good about their teams, but it probably wouldnt have helped the players and coaches as they prepare for a long season.
Instead, these teams and their coaches saw the big picture. They understand whats important, so they went after games that will test them, push them and help them grow.
Northside, which is ranked second in GHSA Class AAAAA, opens its season Friday at Flowery Branch, which is ranked fourth. Peach County and Perry are no longer in the same region so they didnt have to play each other, but Peach County head coach Chad Campbell and Perry head coach Stacey Harden saw the importance of a rivalry game to be played in Perry. And Mary Persons could have eased Brian Nelson into his first game as the head coach with the Bulldogs, but they are instead going to play their annual rivalry game against Jackson.
On top of that, Wilkinson County and Wilcox County, two Class A programs that were affected by the GHSAs change to a private and public school playoff split in Class A, are playing one another to start their seasons. Again, thats a non-region game that didnt have to be played, but its one that will make both teams better in the long run.
The coaches for these teams get it. They understand that win or lose their teams will be better off by playing these games. The coaching staffs will find out more about their players and understand what kind of teams they will have after lining up such difficult openers.
The players will find out a lot about themselves, as well, and thats a positive for all of these teams going through the season.
And thats what these kinds of games are all about: moving forward and preparing for a long and successful season.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org