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It’s almost time to tee it up!

By Walter Geiger For football fans, the long break from the last snap of the Super Bowl to the first high school and college games in late August is a near interminable wait. Now, gridiron action is so close you can feel a hint of fall breeze in the night air and almost taste the concession stand treats. So, how will the local teams do? Lamar County Trojans: After Friday’s 48-3 scrimmage rout of the Upson-Lee Knights, the murmur along the Lamar sidelines was ‘this may be the best Lamar County team ever’. Certainly, the Trojans are as athletic as we have seen. They play tenacious defense, run to the ball and will strike you. In football at all levels, speed kills and this team has speed to burn in the offensive and defensive backfields and at wideout. Lamar, which opens with its second highest preseason ranking ever at #5 in Class AA (they were #2 in 1985 but finished 7-4), also has a coach in Franklin Stephens who has won at the highest level, claiming two titles in the past five years at his former school. The Trojans open with two AAAA teams in Spalding and Eagles Landing and a AAA team in Pike County. After that, there is no insurmountable challenge on the Region 4AA schedule. An undefeated season is a real possibility. Pike County Pirates: The growth of the Pike school system may be the biggest hurdle facing Brad Webber’s squad which lost to Spalding in their scrimmage Friday by a 25-13 margin. Pike has moved up from Class AA to AAA and got placed in a killer region. Their first game in the new region comes September 28 at Carver of Columbus which is ranked #3 in the preseason polls. One month later, top-ranked Peach County comes to Zebulon. Other teams in 2AAA include always tough Jackson, Henry County, SW Macon and Central Macon. The Pirates have a tough row to hoe. A 5-5 record against this schedule would be a major accomplishment in their first year facing AAA foes. Georgia Bulldogs: The Dogs are ranked in the top 10 in pretty much every poll out there. Junior quarterback Aaron Murray has a ton of experience but has never really won a big game. From all reports, Murray will have more stability in the backfield. Make no bones about it, freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will tote the rock for the Dawgs. UGA has a nasty defense and a relatively easy schedule. Mark Richt and staff will know what they have after the September 8 game at Missouri, the Tigers’ first ever SEC contest. Win there and the sky is the limit for this team. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Tech’s biggest strength is that it runs an offense that its opponents do not see every weak in the flexbone or whatever you want to call it. Basically, it is a wishbone hybrid with a lot of option that is fun to watch for those of us who remember when great teams like Nebraska and Oklahoma ran it. The downside is high school stars want to play in offenses that will get them reps for the NFL and Paul Johnson’s offense does not provide that. So, for Tech, it comes down to whether or not the unique system can overcome generally superior athletes on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Tech opens at Virginia Tech September 3. Frank Beamer and Bud Foster will have the Hokies ready for the option and this will be a tough road game for the Jackets. Tech also plays at Clemson and Georgia and hosts what should be a strong Miami team. Best case scenario for this team is 8-4. That’s what I see for these four teams in my crystal ball. What do you think? Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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