Welcome back, football. You were missed.
The 2014 high school football season starts tonight for many area teams.
Not every preseason question will be answered in the first week, but here are five storylines to watch for this season:
• Any discussion must start with Aquinas. The Irish went undefeated in 2013 to win their first state title. Washington County reached the Georgia Dome as well, but lost in the Class AAA final. Both teams could be back there again, and the Irish and Golden Hawks begin 2014 with a No. 1 ranking. Could teams like Class AA’s Washington-Wilkes also make a postseason run?
• The off-season was a whirlwind of coaching changes. Successful coaches Larry Campbell of Lincoln County and Lee Sawyer of Strom Thurmond both retired. Jarrett Troxler’s move to Greenbrier started a domino effect that included changes at Lakeside and Westside. Dan Pippin left North Augusta for Greenwood, but Brian Thomas returns to his home state to lead the Yellow Jackets after coaching in North Carolina. Which first-year coach will have the most wins?
• Much attention is focused on five-star recruit Rashad Roundtree of Lakeside, but he’s not the only Division I talent in the area. South Aiken’s Rasool Clemons committed to Virginia, while Augusta Christian’s Zach Giella is going to Clemson. Expect more players to get noticed this upcoming season, including juniors.
• Laney-Josey remains a region game, but they’ve moved up to Class AAA. There are some other big changes, too. For one, Richmond Academy and Cross Creek joined the large Columbia County schools in Class AAAAA. In South Carolina, Aiken drops to Class AAA and Strom Thurmond dips to AA. On the private school side, Curtis Baptist joins SCISA and Augusta Prep joins the GISA after winning a state title in the Glory For Christ league.
• For the first time since the 1971 season, Campbell won’t be Lincoln County’s head coach. Richard Nixon was president when Campbell started a tenure that concluded with 477 wins. Kevin Banks, who has been on staff for 19 seasons, takes over and will be expected to keep the Red Devils a Class A public school power.