Bill Shanks

It’s that time of year once again

Houston County quarterback Jake Fromm (11) and the Bears open their season Thursday against Mary Persons.
Houston County quarterback Jake Fromm (11) and the Bears open their season Thursday against Mary Persons. bcabell@macon.com

There is nothing like high school football. We’re in Georgia. We’re in Middle Georgia. So we know all why high school football is so special.

It’ll kick off for a couple of teams Thursday night, and then more will take the field Friday. By next week, just about every team will have a game under its belt.

Growing up in Waycross, I know all about high school football and rivalries. While the Waycross-Ware County game didn’t come close to Northside-Warner Robins, it was still special. Any time in a small town when there are two teams, it’s an event every time they play against each other.

Thursday night, we get a great treat, with two games at Mercer to really kick things off. How good will the Houston County-Mary Persons matchup be to start things? Bears quarterback Jake Fromm against Bulldogs defensive stud Malik Herring? That’s worth the price of admission and will be followed by Jones County against the Lee County.

Then Friday, the schedule is highlighted by the classic at McConnell-Talbert Stadium — Northside vs. Warner Robins. The Eagles vs. The Demons. This year there’s a twist as new Warner Robins head coach Mike Chastain, played and later coached at Northside. There’s drama there for sure.

Northside and Warner Robins are no longer in the same region, which takes some suspense out of the picture. But I like this game being at the start of the season. Sure, it’s fun when a playoff spot might be on the line in mid-October, but how fun has this been counting down all summer to the best rivalry in this state?

Week two features a great doubleheader for the Macon Touchdown Club’s inaugural Middle Georgia Kickoff Classic. On Aug. 27, we’ll see Central take on Mount de Sales, followed by Howard taking on FPD at Mercer. What better way to get the spirit up for football fans in this city than to have the TD Club put together two games with four teams that rarely play each other?

Football fans in Macon need to support the local teams. Sure, high school football in Macon is not what it is in Warner Robins. There are too many schools in Bibb County for some reason, which dilutes the talent. But if you love football, why wouldn’t you go pick a game to go to in Macon on a Friday night?

These players and coaches need support. They don’t need to see empty seats at Henderson Stadium or at Ed DeFore Sports Complex. They need to see people in the community come out and cheer and support local talent.

The folks in Fort Valley love Peach County football. How about Sandersville? You think they love the Golden Hawks of Washington County? Small towns support their teams very well, but it doesn’t mean a city the size of Macon can’t do a better job of getting out to cheer for the local teams.

College football is great. Most of us love it even more. Sure, the NFL is fun. But high school football is local. High school football is in our neighborhood. And thankfully, high school football is back.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow

@yahoo.com.

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