The start of the high school football season brings with it excitement throughout the state. But a rivalry game to open the season adds a little more anticipation to the proceedings.
That’s what awaits Dodge County and Bleckley County on Friday in Eastman. The two rivals meet for the 40th straight season since the series began in 1977.
“We’re pretty close, and we have played them a lot over the years, so it’s a big game for us,” Dodge County head coach Rex Hodges said. “It’s exciting to play in these kinds of games.”
Bleckley County head coach Tracy White agreed ... sort of.
“Well, we’d love to start off with an easy one,” White said with a laugh. “But it’s fun starting with games against teams of this caliber and these kinds of rivalry games.”
The Indians lead the all-time series 28-11 and won 35-10 last year. That snapped Bleckley County’s four-game winning streak in the series, the only time it has won more than two straight in the series.
Dodge County finished 9-3 last year and reached the second round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs. The Indians have five returning starters on each side of the ball, led by running back/linebacker Kyle Glover, quarterback Clint Thompson and offensive linemen Aaron Spires and Walker Stanley.
“We’re still searching for some players to fill in some spots,” Hodges said. “But we’re excited about the season, and these players are ready for their chance.”
Bleckley County finished 5-6 last year, losing to Jefferson County in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.
The Royals return four starters on each side of the ball, led by defensive lineman Eddie Blash, quarterback Cody Evans, running back LaDarrick Vickers and linebacker Garrett Grizzard.
“This is a fun group to coach, and they continue to work hard, and they’re getting better in spots,” White said. “We’re very inexperienced; not that we’re young. We’re going to be playing some seniors, but unfortunately for them, they have been stuck behind some good football players their whole lives, in middle school and high school, and now this is their chance.
“They have played, but they haven’t been counted on to be out there for a whole game, and now we’re counting on them to do that.”