In Region 8-AAAA, the subregion system which led to an undefeated team taking a No. 2 seed into the AAAA playoffs has been scrapped for 2008. But that means there's no room for non-region warm-up games. This year, every game counts in this 11-team region.
The Stephens County-Hart County rivalry didn't need an influx of excitement - the game has decided the Region 8-AAA championship each of the last three seasons. But when Ren Teasley, the Bulldogs' leading rusher for the last two seasons, showed up at Stephens County practice to start the 2008 season, that's exactly what it got.
The Johnson High football program is itching to end a three-year span without a playoff appearance. With a team returning 13 starters and equipped with talented skill players, Johnson coach Paul Friel feels like the Knights can compete against traditional contenders Flowery Branch and Gainesville in Region 7B-AAA.
Consider year one of the Mike Newton administration as a building block. Two wins were not what the coach expected in his first year as the head coach of West Hall, but despite the lack of victories, Newton sees the team and program headed for brighter days.
The office of Gainesville High coach Bruce Miller is littered with past accomplishments and accolades. Plaques and game balls display the achievements of his 35-year coaching career. But there is one glaring omission from all the mementos: A state championship trophy.
As winners of three of the past four region titles, North Hall has been the standard bearer for recent success in Region 7-AAA. But the challenge to the Trojans this season will be to make it back to the state playoffs after losing 15 starters that carried the school to the Class AAA state semifinals in 2007.