It’s August, which means high school football is inching closer.
In fact, the Valley Preps season kicks off this month. Shaw and Kendrick open the local football season on August 22, followed by a slew of games the following night.
There’s no shortage of notable storylines to follow once preps football kicks off. Here’s three of them.
Central breaks in new quarterback
He may not be “new,” by definition, but Central-Phenix City quarterback Tucker Melton takes the full-time reins this season after splitting time with now-LSU Tiger Peter Parrish.
Melton is, by no means, a major step down. A three-star prospect, according to 247Sports, and Bowling Green commit, Melton’s list of offers includes Division I programs like Chattanooga, Akron and Arkansas State.
Melton, according to MaxPreps, threw for 880 yards and nine touchdowns last season, all while splitting time with Parrish. He’s thrown for just over 1,400 career yards (15 touchdowns), and enters his senior season with a plethora of talent around him.
That talent — players like receiver E.J. Williams and running back Joseph McKay (who also likely moves into a full-time starting role this fall) — will be integral to a smooth transition. Because Central’s schedule is not forgiving.
It’ll be a baptism by fire for Melton and the Red Devils. They open in Montgomery against perennial Alabama power Hoover, then turn right around and travel to Atlanta to face Cedar Grove, which won the GHSA 5-A state championship last season, finished 14-1 and has won two of the previous three 5-A state titles.
Region 1-AAAA a tough one for area teams
It’d be tough to find a more stacked region in GHSA 4-A when it comes to the area’s teams.
Carver, Columbus, Hardaway, Northside and Shaw all reside in Region 1-AAAA, a region that’s been fairly even the past few seasons. Cairo went unbeaten in the region last season, while Americus-Sumter (the team that won it the year prior) missed the playoffs and went 3-5 in region play.
As far as area teams, Carver came second in the region last year, the lone loss coming to eventual-champion Cairo. Columbus’ surprise season saw them finish second last year, but behind the Blue Devils, it gets tough for the remaining Columbus-area teams.
Hardaway, Northside and Shaw all finished with losing regular-season records, the latter two finishing with losing region records. Hardaway, the only one of that trio that made the playoffs, went 4-4 and lost in the first round.
Troup’s talented duo
Around 40 miles north of Columbus sits the town of Lagrange, and in it the Troup County Tigers — a team with one of the most talented one-two punches in the area, both in the class of 2020.
Kobe Hudson plays quarterback for the Tigers but is seen as a receiver in various recruiting profiles. An Auburn commit, he was named Recruit Georgia’s Class AAAA player of the year. Hudson threw for a staggering 3,386 yards and 32 touchdowns, and was also a threat running the ball with a team-leading 1,410 yards and 18 touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball is strong-side defensive end Andy Boykin, who decommitted from Auburn in August 2018. He was originally Auburn’s first commitment for the 2020 class, but is now predicted to choose Georgia as his college destination.
The 6-foot-4, 250 pound sophomore defensive lineman out of Lagrange holds offers from schools like Georgia, Kentucky, Syracuse and Tennessee along with Auburn.