I already have a decent idea of most of the games I’ll be going to this year. Plans, of course, change as the season goes along — certain teams get hot, games that we didn’t think would matter as much suddenly become much more important.
The question is, which games will you go to?
There are so many to choose from (I’m holding a packet with every game in the area this season as we speak), it could get difficult to make your decisions.
To give you a quick idea of what’s on tap, here’s a look at the top games for each week.
Week 1: Carver vs. Spencer, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at Memorial Stadium
As if I’d choose a different one. The Heritage Bowl has been a one-sided affair for years, with the Tigers taking the past 14 consecutive meetings, all by double-digits and five via shutout. This season’s 51st meeting still leans heavily in Carver’s favor, but Spencer appears to have some firepower on offense that should give it some new life. The event itself, like all rivalry games in sports, is well worth the price of admission. On the field, though, there is a lot of talent from both teams that you should take the opportunity to see this season.
Honorable mention: Russell County at Central, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Garrett-Harrison Stadium
Week 2: Central at Carver-Montgomery, 8 p.m. Sept. 5 at Carver-Montgomery
Feel like taking a drive west? This one could be worth it. The two teams get region play started early with a rematch of a game Central won 27-14 last season. Montgomery’s quarterback Jeremy Johnson has moved on to the greener pastures of the Plains at Auburn University, but the team should still be fully stocked and ready for revenge against the Red Devils. Central, meanwhile, is trying to get the region started off right, which will be important if it is to rise back up the standings from its fourth-place finish a season ago.
Honorable mention: Shaw vs. Carver, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at Memorial Stadium
Week 3: Take your pick
Carver at Colquitt County, 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Colquitt County
Opelika at Central, 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Garrett-Harrison Stadium
Auburn at Smiths Station, 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Panther Stadium
This week is chockfull of great matchups, too many to pick just one. Carver at Colquitt County doesn’t mean anything when it comes to playoff standing, but it’s a matchup of two of the state’s best teams (Carver is No. 5 in Class AAA, Colquitt County is No. 2 in Class AAAAAA). Colquitt County won the game 33-0 last year.
Opelika at Central has much bigger postseason implications. It will be the second region game for both teams and could, for the second year in a row, prove to be a dividing point among the two teams. Opelika won the game 37-7 last year and advanced all the way to the state championship.
Auburn routed Smiths Station last season and again will be the favorite. Smiths Station, though, feels like it has a chance to make the playoffs and will need every region win it can get to make that a reality.
Honorable mention: Hardaway vs. Shaw, 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at Kinnett Stadium
Week 4: Wesleyan at Brookstone, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Rex Knight Stadium
A defensive showdown ended in a 17-14 Wesleyan win a year ago. This season, coach Brad Dehem will try to get his Cougars over the hump against his former team. The game won’t have any region implications, but it is a contest between two of the more consistent programs in Class A. This will likely be one of the better games at Brookstone this season.
Honorable mention: Harris County at Callaway, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Callaway
Week 5: Shaw vs. LaGrange, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Kinnett Stadium
The first region contest for both teams will be played in town this year. Last year, LaGrange won the contest 31-14, knocking the Raiders into a 1-3 spiral to begin region play. Shaw won three in a row to close the year to make the playoffs with a 4-3 region record, and LaGrange took the 3-seed out of the region with a 4-3 record and the tiebreaker. This game could be the difference between the third and fourth seed once again with Carrollton and Sandy Creek looking like the favorites to take the top seeds.
Honorable mention: Brookstone at Dooly County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Dooly County
Week 6: Hardaway vs. Lee County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Kinnett
The region-opener went in Lee County’s favor last year, but Hardaway has high hopes it can break through into the Class AAAAA playoffs this year. It will need a good start in this game to build some confidence into the rest of region play. The fact that only six teams play in the region and there are only five games in region play make each game that much more meaningful.
Honorable mention: Brookstone at Pacelli, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Diemel Field
Week 7: Shaw vs. Sandy Creek, 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Kinnett Stadium
This pick might get some flack because of how many other great and important games there are this week. Like Week 3, this is a must-see week across the board. With that said, it’s tough to pass up an opportunity to see a team of the caliber of Sandy Creek when it comes to town. Sandy Creek, former school of top NFL receiver Calvin Johnson, is again home to the best wide receiver in the state of Georgia, Demarre Kitt, a Clemson commit. The game has a lot of talent and region implications, and just consider how great it would be to be present for an improbable Shaw upset.
With all that said, do be sure to check out the following games:
Heard County at Manchester, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Memorial Stadium in Manchester
Central at Auburn, 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at Auburn
Smiths Station at Opelika, 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at Opelika
Harris County at Bainbridge, 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at Bainbridge
Week 8: Hardaway vs. Bainbridge, 1 p.m. Oct. 19 at Kinnett Stadium
Same story as the Lee County game for Hardaway. After a week off, the Hawks will get Bainbridge, which looks like it could be a playoff contender. One region win to start the second half of the season would be good. Two region wins to start league play would be absolutely huge for Hardaway.
Honorable mention: Smiths Station at Carver-Montgomery, 8 p.m. Oct. 18; Dooly County at Marion County, 7: 30 p.m. Oct. 18
Week 9: Smiths Station at Central, 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at Garrett-Harrison Stadium
Like last year, this game has the potential to decide which team is playing postseason football and which team is on the outside looking in. Central picked up a slim win last year to earn the fourth seed in the region, but Smiths Station is determined to break through and earn a postseason berth. Also, there are some great players in this game, most notably Central’s Traveon Samuel. He is an incredibly fun player to watch. Panthers coach Mark Rose called him the best athlete he’s coached against since Tyrone Prothro.
Keep an eye on Region 1-AAAAA in Georgia, as well, as a couple of important games involving Harris County and Hardaway will be played, including one between Hardaway and Thomas County Central which features a couple of great running backs in the Hawks Justin Crawford and the Yellow Jackets’ Adam Choice.
Honorable mention: Hardaway at Thomas County Central, 8 p.m. Oct. 25
Week 10: Carver vs. Peach County, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at Memorial Stadium
This game could be one of the best of the season period. The Tigers picked up a big win on the road last season to clinch a region championship. It’s likely the region will again be on the line when the two teams face each other this year. The game has a host of top-notch talent that would be great to see at some point this year, most notably those on the Carver defense.
Honorable mention: Hardaway at Harris County, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at Tiger Stadium
Week 11: Thomas County Central at Harris County, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at Tiger Stadium OR Spencer vs. Kendrick, 4 p.m. Nov. 8 at Kinnett Stadium
For Spencer and Kendrick, this could be for a playoff spot like it was last year. Kendrick ended a long playoff drought with a win in this game last year. Spencer has a chance to do the same in 2013. A lot will be on the line for both teams.
There are a couple of scenarios for the Harris County game: One, it could be for a region championship, as it was last season, a game the Tigers won 18-12. Two, it’s possible one or both of these teams could still be trying to clinch a playoff spot. There are a lot of unknowns in this region right now, like whether Harris County can continue the success it found at the end of last season, whether Thomas County Central is as good a team as it’s being billed, whether Hardaway really is ready to contend for the playoffs or, perhaps, even a home playoff game. So much could be on the line in this final game, so it could be a great one to check out.
Honorable mention: Greenville at Brookstone, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at Rex Knight Stadium
What games are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @leprepsports.