Football is a big part of the athletics landscape in Middle Georgia, and the area is adding another attraction this season.
Bobby Lambs Mercer University Bears team is playing its first season after the program returned from a more than 70-year hiatus. The Bears are playing their first season in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. But next year, the Bears, and all the schools athletics teams, will move to the Southern Conference.
Mercer has eight home games this season, which began with its Aug. 31 contest against Reinhardt.
The Bears have 18 intercollegiate athletics teams, eight on the mens side and 10 on the womens side.
The eight mens teams are baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer and tennis. The 10 womens teams are basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, sand volleyball, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball.
Mercers facilities are: mens and womens basketball (Hawkins Arena), football/lacrosse (Mercer University Stadium), baseball (Claude Smith Field), softball (Sikes Field), mens and womens soccer (Bear Field), sand volleyball (Mercer Sand Volleyball Complex), mens and womens tennis (LeRoy Peddy Tennis Center), mens golf (Brickyard at Riverside), womens golf (Idle Hour Club) and cross country (Georgia Industrial Childrens Home).
There are 22 high schools that have athletics teams in the five-county area, and those teams are split into the Georgia High School Association and Georgia Independent Schools Association.
In Bibb County, the GHSA teams are Central High, First Presbyterian Day School, Howard High, Northeast High, Rutland High, Southwest High and Westside High. The GISA teams in the county are Covenant Academy, Central Fellowship Christian Academy, Mount de Sales Academy, Tattnall Square Academy, Stratford Academy and Windsor Academy.
In Houston County, the GHSA teams are Houston County High, Northside High, Perry High, Veterans High and Warner Robins High, while the Westfield School competes in the GISA.
Jones County, Peach County and Mary Persons (Monroe County) high schools also compete in the GHSA.
Warner Robins and Northside have built powerhouse football programs in the GHSA throughout the years, and Peach County has joined them recently. Mary Persons is a traditional power, as well.
In the GISA, Tattnall Square has won 11 championships in football since 1998, but the school also routinely adds championships in baseball and basketball, while Stratfords girls basketball team and tennis and soccer programs also are powers.
Barrington Hall Golf Club: 478-757-8358
Bowden Golf Course: 478-742-1610
The Brickyard at Riverside: 478-477-6765
Healy Point Country Club: 478-746-2411
Idle Hour Club: 478-477-1724
Oakview Golf & Country Club: 478-785-1833
Houston Lake Country Club: 478-218-5253
Houston Springs Golf Club: 478-988-8200
International City Golf Club: 478-322-0276
Perry Country Club: 478-987-1033
Pine Oaks Golf Course: 478-923-7334
Landings Golf Club: 478-932-5222
Waterford Golf Club: 478-328-7533
Lake Jonesco Golf Course: 478-986-3206
The Club at River Forest: 478-974-0974
Forsyth Golf Club: 478-994-5328
Pine Needles Country Club: 478-825-3816
John Drew Smith Tennis Center: 478-474-5075
Tattnall Tennis Center: 478-751-9196
Tanner Park: 478-929-1916
Ted Wright Park: 478-929-1916
South Complex: 478-742-3535
North Peach Park: 478-956-1891
South Peach Park: 478-825-5197
Gold Cup Bowling Center: 478-781-2096
Gold Cup Bowling Center: 478-922-3054
Robins Bowling Center: 478-926-2112