FORT VALLEY – Over the past few years, my signpost for the start of the season has been the preseason matchup between Northside and Peach County.
The scrimmage between the two Middle Georgia public schools with the longest playoff streaks signals the start of the football season, at least for me.
The programs met Tuesday night at Peach County to make up the scrimmage that was canceled Friday for rain. This is at least the third straight season the schools have scrimmaged each other.
I left with Northside leading 17-0 at the half, and it appeared to be a good decision with lightning flashing off in the distance.
Here are a few of my takeaways.
- Northside won’t be short on playmakers. The Eagles must replace All-Middle Georgia Player of the Year Keshun Hill, who is now at Georgia Southern. Glenn Smith, who started at quarterback last year, appears well suited to fill Hill’s hybrid role. Smith scored both of Northside’s touchdowns Tuesday night. He scored on a 17-yard read option, taking the handoff from quarterback Marcus Ivory. He scored on another run later in the first half. Northside offensive coordinator Chad Alligood has integrated Smith into multiple aspects of the offense, as a tailback and as a receiver. He will also line up at quarterback, getting maybe around a quarter of his team’s snaps under center. I expected Smith to be a lethal threat after watching him last year, and I thought he’d fill Hill’s role well. What I didn’t expect: how sharp running back Willie Jordan looked. First, the junior running back is huge. He has a similar build to former All-Middle Georgia Player of the Year Tijuan Green. Northside has had plenty of standout backs over the past 20 years, and Jordan should continue that legacy assuming he stays healthy. There will be moments when Smith and Jordan will be in the backfield running the read option, and I would hate to be the opposing defensive coordinator.
These are two of the top programs in Middle Georgia for a reason, and I saw nothing on Tuesday night that would stop either of these teams from making deep playoff runs into December.