High School Sports

Blogging: Northside, Allatoona offers a full plate of football. And talk

It's cloudy and 60 almost 8 hours before kickoff.

Perfect football weather for a Friday Night Lights kind of game, which is what we can expect from Northside and Allatoona in Friday's Class 5A semifinal.

As for playing at Mercer, clearly too many people are afraid to venture out of a clenched comfort zone, and see boogeymen around every unfamiliar corner.

Stunning how many folks can’t seem to Google during their hours at the keyboard.

Playing at Mercer was the right call, because a semifinal game deserves a semifinal facility, and that covers seating, locker rooms, game operations centers, concessions, parking and access. And the field.

The GHSA, its schools and facilities is another topic addressed here soon enough.

The quick Mercer Stadium scouting report: it’s mostly seat-backed aluminum bleacher seating except for about 100 chairbacks. The visitor’s side, where the game operations center is, seats about 2,200.

Both sides are high enough off the field to give even lower seats a good view. The berms can squeeze probably 1,500 or so, and there are other vantage points with a good view of the field.

Jeez, all this yakking about the field this kind of silly. It’s a small-college stadium that cost about $17 million and is two years old.

What’d people think it’d be like? All will be fine.The paranoia about Macon? About as much crime as Savannah and Columbus and Augusta and most other cities. Just check a newspaper website, oh, any given minute or hour.

Every city has all sorts of places. Augusta is Macon with a golf course. Savannah is Macon with funky trees and a grid-street downtown. Columbus is Macon with a bigger base attached.

Anyway, those worried about what they don’t know will probably enjoy watching the game online.

Those who with open minds who long ago unclenched will find a Mercer campus (about 2,500 undergrads) that has an 11-year-old University Center, a great baseball field surrounded by a not-as-nifty facility, a Hilton Garden Inn, and enough parking within a safe 10-minute walk to handle things.

Mercer’s first two seasons of football were logistical dreams, between city police and traffic officers and others who worked around the stadium. A pleasant surprise was the quality execution.

Who handles tonight’s game with all that? Not sure, but one would expect Mercer to work mighty hard to take advantage of this huge recruiting night for a nearby community as well as one two hours away that likely knew nothing about Mercer.

Those coming in from out of town early and want to eat?

Note that downtown Macon is about five minutes from Mercer, and covers all your taste buds needs, from a super steakhouse (Downtown Grill) to Thai (Lemongrass) to a large variety of burgers (Rookery) to more fine dining (Tic Toc and Dovetail) to more burger-type stuff (Bearfoot) to Greek (Greek Corner Deli) and the legendary Southern-cookin’ mecca, H&H, to name but a few.Between the Eisenhower/475 area and North Macon’s Tom Hill Sr. Blvd., area, all the food groups are covered within 15 minutes of Mercer. BBQ, Greek, burgers, seafood, chicken, pizza.

And at Mercer, on campus? Pizza, Mexican, wings, coffee, sandwiches, health food.

For some general help: www.macon.com/dining

As for the game, we’ll have huddles and mostly running, except for the few surprises both teams will unleash. Subtle surprises, but there’ll be a big play – and it may not be executed perfectly, but will be a “hmmm, interesting” kind of thing – that will make a difference or set up a situation to make a difference.

One always wonders about the kicking game. Note that the Eagles have one of the best in the area in junior Justin Alonso.

Suddenly, we sit here with Northside – so dissed by so many early on – sitting here with perhaps the best team in the state.

Or not. Maxwell Ratings lists Allatoona as a 7-point favorite. The ability to throw more and better is one reason, as well as the turf, which is a remarkably overrated topic. Sure, an Eagle or two will have a footing issue in the first quarter, but turf monsters live under every field in a America.

Some may have moved from McConnell-Talbert to Mercer to help the "home" team.

The guess here is that we'll have a full stadium a solid 30 minutes before kickoff, and we'll have an instant-classic kind of evening between two programs folks will want to see play in the regular season.

It's a Bart Scott game: Can't wait.