Gainesville High will open the 2016-17 season with a trip to West Hall on Aug. 19, per the schedules released by the Georgia High School Association website.
The two teams will rekindle a rivalry that was a staple from 2000-2011. The Red Elephants hold a 10-2 edge in the all-time series. Both West Hall and Gainesville made the state playoffs last season, in their respective classifications.
Click through the photo gallery of this story to see the full schedule for each area team.
Several other area schedules reflect the recent changes in reclassification, including Gainesville’s move to Class AAAAAA, Buford’s move to Class AAAAA and North Hall’s drop into Class AAA.
The Red Elephants will also take on statewide powers such as Alpharetta (Aug. 26), Jefferson (Sept. 23) and Marist (Sept. 30) before entering the heart of the region schedule.
Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said he expects every game on the schedule to be a test for his team.
“Every game’s a challenge,” said Miller. “I don’t think there’s an easy team on that schedule … I look at the schedule and think that we could be 0-5 or 5-0 by the time we hit region play.”
Miller said he was appreciative of West Hall agreeing to the season-opener, calling the intra-county game “a natural money-maker.”
Miller believes that opening with tough teams will help bolster his Red Elephants for a long playoff run, much like playing Grayson early in 2015 helped Gainesville challenge top-ranked Stockbridge in the second round of last year’s Class AAAAA playoffs.
“With this region, there are only six teams in it and four of them make the playoffs, so that’s encouraging,” said Miller. “If you get someone hurt or lose key players, like when we lost (running back) Chris Byrd a couple years ago, it made such a difference when we got him back.”
“The region could be like the NFL for us,” said Miller. “We don’t know who will win it until it comes down to the last game. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us.”