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Football fans ready for kickoff
Local high school season begins for most teams tonight
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Cheerleader Sarah Beth Moss leads the finished run-through banner past other members of her squad painting posters Wednesday afternoon at Gainesville High School. The 35- to 40-pound banner, with poles, is stored under tables in a classroom until Friday night’s game. - photo by NAT GURLEY

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It’s game day.

Though a few schools played last week, this is the first Friday that football is on in full force for Hall and Gainesville high school teams.

The community buzzed with activity Thursday, with students and fans looking forward to tonight’s games.
Chestatee High students were gearing up for a much-anticipated rivalry match against their North Hall neighbors.

“Being a senior and getting it to be our first football game is going to be really exciting,” said Chestatee senior Maggee Wilson. “I think it’s going to be a close game.”

“We really want to win,” added her friend and fellow senior Sarah Beth English. “It’s going to be a good game.”

Over at North Hall High, the field had been prepped by the Touchdown Club, with fans of the Trojans eager to win as well.

Wayne Parrish, president of the Touchdown Club, said he is confident about tonight’s game and the upcoming year.

“Based on the enthusiasm and just watching those kids, their work ethic and what they’ve been doing, it’s going to be an exciting season,” Parrish said.

While Parrish thinks North Hall will best Chestatee, he agrees that it’s going to be a close game between the two.

Over at Gainesville High, senior Rodney Timmons expects a close game against West Forsyth, but one the Elephants will ultimately win.

“I think we’re going to have a pretty good chance of beating (their team) this year,” he said.

Gainesville cheerleader Katherine Jones agreed.

“I’m going to just be doing my best to cheer them on,” Jones said. “Especially since we lost to them last year, and I know we’re not going to let that happen two years in a row.”

Paul Skinner has been a fan of West Hall’s team for years, with his daughter graduating from the school in 2011. The Spartans have not made the playoffs since 2002, but he’s hopeful for more success this season.

Skinner said that when new coach Tony Lotti was brought in last year, he brought in a lot of excitement and renewal to the program.

“Last year, even though the record wasn’t real good, we made, I felt like, really good strides as far as building the program,” Skinner said.

He pointed out the Spartans beat Oakwood rival Johnson in last week’s season opener for the two schools.

“So it was a pretty good start to the season,” he said.

West Hall is off this week, while Johnson is away at Oglethorpe County and Flowery Branch away at Northside High in Warner Robins. East Hall is playing Chattooga at home.

Gordon Higgins, director of communications and athletics for the Hall school system, called the overall quality of football in the area “excellent.”

“Last season, for example, we had a state champion (in) Gainesville, and a state semifinalist (in) North Hall,” Higgins said.

Higgins pointed out that Johnson posted its “first winning record in a number of years” last year, and Flowery Branch was a region champion. East Hall just missed the playoffs by one game.

Chestatee’s English and Wilson took a moment to confer with each other before coming up with the perfect message to kick off the 2013 season.

“Nothing’s better than watching our boys under the Friday night lights,” they agreed.

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