High School Sports

Here are 5 things to watch in high school football Friday, Aug. 31

Region play may still be on the horizon for football teams throughout the area, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of intensity. Between a handful of teams getting off to strong start and another batch of attractive non-region match ups, there’s plenty for fans to keep an eye on when it comes to high school football.

Here are five things to watch on the field this week.

1. New era is good for Veterans so far

When you’re located in the same county as powerhouses like Northside and Warner Robins, it’s easy to get overshadowed. The Veterans Warhawks, however, are doing their best to claw their way into the limelight under new head coach Milan Turner.

Veterans so far has harnessed big-play ability in its backfield to key a 2-0 start, its best in program history. Both Sebastian Verger at quarterback and Cyrus Zuell have thrived in the Veterans run-heavy offense, each averaging about 80 yards in wins against Upson-Lee and Bleckley County.

Veterans will now put that fast start up against a pair of stingy opponents in the coming weeks. It travels to Baldwin on Friday with a looming rival game coming on Sept. 21 against another team from the south end of Houston County off to a 2-0 start — Perry. The Panthers host Westside this week in a battle of 2-0 teams.

2. On to the next for Peach, Northside

Saturday night’s finale to the Macon Touchdown Club Middle Georgia Kick-Off Classic may have been an early-season non-region match up, but it hardly felt like one. Between the electricity at Five Star Stadium, the intensity on the field and some 9,000-plus fans in attendance, it had the feel of a playoff game on both sides.

But as much as Peach County would like to revel in the 27-24 win and Northside lament the “what ifs,” there’s a whole lot of season left for both teams. And there’s little time to rest for either of them.

Peach County will travel south to put its defensive speed up against 6A’s top-ranked team and defending champion Lee County. As for Northside, its defense gets a shot at another high-octane offense with Jones County and quarterback Hunter Costlow coming to town.

Friday’s hardly the end of the daunting schedule of games for either team. Peach hosts Mary Persons on Sept. 14 with five of Northside’s eight remaining overall opponents this year being ranked within the top 10 of their respective classifications.

3. Focus key for Howard after big win

It can be argued that Friday’s big win against First Presbyterian Day was one of the most important ones for the history of Howard’s program. Not only did it even the all-time series against the Vikings at 2-2 in what’s developing to be one of north Macon’s more intense rivalries, but it also showed off the resolve of the Huskies after a heartbreaking loss to start the season against Jones County. The 50-14 win against the Vikings, the most scored in a single game by Howard in varsity competition, allowed the Huskies to prove that it was a team able to bounce back from early season adversity.

The next challenge for the Huskies is staying focused. While Howard fans already may be salivating at the chance for the school’s first win against Westside next week, there’s the matter of this week’s task at hand — a Central Chargers team week that will arrive at the Ed Defore Sports Complex hungry for a win.

4. Blazing start for the Cavaliers

From the standpoint of momentum, Mount de Sales has the most in hand as far as Macon’s four large private schools go. The Cavaliers 2-0 start is their best since moving back to the Georgia High School Association and best overall since 2011.

Of those schools, only one other, Tattnall Square, has a win this year so far with FPD and Stratford currently 1-1. Mount de Sales will look to make it 3-0 Friday at Pinecrest, part of a goal to build a full head of steam up before starting sub-region play on Sept. 21 against Stratford.

5. ACE makes history, looking for more

For a program in its inaugural season, there are bound to be plenty of firsts for the Academy of Classical Education Gryphons.

ACE is coming off of two pretty big ones. Not only was last week’s 27-0 win against Notre Dame Academy the first win in program history, but it was the first shutout as well. The Gryphons will aim to parlay that elation of victory forward on Friday in their regular season home opener at Thompson Stadium against 2A foe Lamar County.

Friday’s other games of note

Morrow at Mary Persons

Central (Talbotton) at Crawford County

Treutlen at Twiggs County

Southwest at Macon County

Rutland at Houston County

Southland at Westfield

Windsor Academy at Dominion Christian

Covenant Academy at Morrow Baptist

Mount Vernon Presbyterian at FPD

George Walton at Stratford

Tattnall Square at Trinity Christian-Sharpsburg