No, these posts aren't going to make the season get here any sooner, but it's never too early to look at some of the most intriguing games in store for 2012. Here's a handful.
Fitzgerald at Jefferson County, Aug. 24
The Purple Hurricanes arrive in Louisville with eight consecutive seasons of 10+ wins. But they also have a new coach in Jason Strickland, who was previously at Lamar County. Meanwhile, J.B. Arnold’s Warriors were one of the strongest teams in the area last season, winning seven in a row before losing to Buford in the second round of the state playoffs
South Aiken at Greenwood, Aug. 24
The Thoroughbreds started 2-0 in 2011 but finished 2-9 as quarterback Bo Baldwin got hurt. But this fall, South Aiken could make an early-season statement against Greenwood, who’s the two-time defending state runner up.
Butler at Laney, Aug. 31
The Bulldogs have a new head coach in Myron Newton, so this will be a good test to see where Butler’s at after losing a bunch of seniors. This is also the teams’ first meeting since 2007, which was when Butler was in the midst of its 41-game losing streak. As for Laney, it’s shut out the Bulldogs in five of the past six showdowns.
Thomson at Burke County, Aug. 31
Yes, the Bulldogs also play St. Pius X, Westminster (Atlanta) and Greater Atlanta Christian, among others, but this is the season-opener. These two met for the Region 3-AAA championship in each of the past two seasons, with Burke County winning both times. The Bears won the Class AAA state crown last year but move up to AAAA this season after reclassification added another class; Thomson is still in AAA.
Hancock Central at Warren County, Sept. 28
We all know what happened after last year’s game. Assuming this game gets played, expect to see both teams showing respect and class at every turn.
Northside (Warner Robins) at Lakeside, Sept. 28
This is the third year in a row these two play each other, but it’ll be a region contest this season. The Eagles advanced all the way to the state semifinals in 2011, so the Panthers can gauge their playoff chances early. Just like last year, Lakeside has a challenging early slate: Statesboro, Thomson and Northside make up three of the opening four games.
North Augusta at Lexington, Oct. 5
It’s been a memorable three-year run for the Yellow Jackets. North Augusta is 35-6 the past three seasons, and this one stands out as potentially a great game. The Wildcats were 11-1 in 2011, beating North Augusta in a crazy 59-56 game for one of those wins.
Lincoln County at Aquinas, Oct. 11
Aquinas has lost 31 in a row in this series, with no wins since 1972. But with Brendan Douglas a senior, could this be the Irish’s best chance to win since … 1972? Lincoln County should be good (again), but Aquinas also made the state quarterfinals a year ago.