Happy new year, folks.
For some high school football teams across Middle Georgia, this marks the opening weekend of the season. Gatewood and Piedmont kicked things off Thursday night, and 18 games involving roughly a third of the teams in The Telegraph’s coverage area are set to play Friday night.
This is a made-for-television weekend of sorts for high school football teams around the country. With college teams preparing for their first games next weekend and the start of the NFL season still two weeks away, some teams have come to use this weekend to play games of regional or national interest.
The ESPN broadcast networks will show 10 games this weekend. ESPNU will carry the Westover-Lee County game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and ESPN2 will show the contest between Trinity Christian of Jacksonville, Florida, and Buford at 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Also, this is the weekend of the Corky Kell Classic, the 14-team showcase that normally takes place at the Georgia Dome but shifted to McEachern this year because of a scheduling conflict with Saturday night’s Atlanta Falcons preseason game. All seven games will air on SportSouth.
Here in Middle Georgia, there are a few interesting matchups. Dodge County opens against Bleckley County in a neighborhood battle, while Dublin, ranked ninth in GHSA Class AA, hosts Laney, which received points in the Class AAA poll and is a former region opponent.
Also, Lamar County opens under a new head coach following a run to the Georgia Dome last season, hosting Howard in the only game Friday involving a Bibb County public school team.
In Houston County, Northside -- ranked second in the Class AAAAA poll -- hosts North Cobb and Perry travels to Monroe, while Westfield begins its GISA Class AAA title defense against Southland.
It’s not a bad way to get started. And it’s a pretty good weekend to get back into the business of covering high school sports after eight years away from the game.
I’ve been at The Telegraph since 2006, coming to Macon as a copy editor and page designer, a role that did not allow me to cover games on a regular basis. With some recent staffing changes, I’ve picked up some of the high school reporting duties formerly handled by Jonathan Heeter, who did tremendous work for several years in that role. The stat sheets and clipboard will be coming out of semi-retirement -- and wifi or cellular signal willing, I’ll be sharing some social media tidbits, as well, on Friday nights at www.twitter.com/RonSeibel.
Don’t worry about Jonathan ... we haven’t sent him on a wild chase for the Great Pumpkin or the answer to what ails the Atlanta Braves. He will be coordinating our Friday night online efforts this fall. Look for Friday Night Bytes (#FNB) on a computer, tablet or smartphone near you.
As a high school sports writer in the past, I’ve had the chance to cover football in some unique places, from the small farming towns of Indiana to the mountains of the Wasatch Front to the small desert and Indian communities of Arizona. Right before coming to Macon, I spent five years in the Florida panhandle, covering some of the best rivalries that state had to offer -- including a team that will be on television this weekend in Niceville, which will be playing in the second half of a Saturday doubleheader in Hoover, Alabama.
Now it’s time to add Georgia to the mix. There’s some great talent and great matchups in this state, and I look forward to sharing the stories that will come out of them.
Contact Ron Seibel at 744-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org