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This week: HS football scrimmages kick off
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High school football season is drawing closer each day. Even though the regular season is still a couple of weeks away for most Georgia teams, scrimmages will be scattered across the area this weekend.

Defending Region 8-AAA champion Gainesville (12-2 in 2011) scrimmages Creekview on Friday in Canton. Despite both competing in Region 7-AAA together in 2008 and 2009, the schools have never faced one another. Now, both have moved up to Class AAAAA: Gainesville in Region 8-AAAAA and Creekview in 7-AAAAA.

Gainesville is hoping to build on its momentum this season after making the state semifinals in Class AAA last year.
On Thursday, East Hall meets Chestatee in a scrimmage at War Eagles Stadium. The Vikings have been one of the most steadily improving programs in Hall County under sixth-year coach Bryan Gray. After a 1-9 mark in 2009, East Hall has improved its win total by two games in each of the past two seasons. Last year, East Hall finished 5-5 and played in the Region 8-AA play-in game against Elbert County, losing 27-7.

The last time East Hall posted a winning record was a 6-5 mark in 2005, also its last playoff season. This season, the Vikings are moving up to Region 7-AAA to play against Buford, North Hall, West Hall and Dawson County, to name a few.

Also on Friday, North Hall is making a trip to Amherst County (Va.) for its scrimmage. The Trojans (4-6 in 2011) are coming off their first losing season since 2001, also coach Bob Christmas’ first season at the school.

North Hall is back in Region 7-AAA, after playing the past two seasons in Region 8-AAA. The Trojans are seeking to make it to the playoffs after a two-year absence and open the season at Class AAAA’s Chestatee on Aug. 31.

On Saturday, it’ll be a scrimmage between brothers in Dahlonega. Second-year Banks County coach Philip Jones is taking his program north to Lumpkin County to play against his older brother Tommy Jones’ Indians. Lumpkin County is coming off its second consecutive 6-4 season and in search of its first playoff trip since 2003. Banks County went 7-4 in 2011, reaching the first round of the state playoffs.

The first regular-season games will be played Aug. 24 as Johnson hosts West Hall and East Hall travels to Dawson County.

The rest of the area’s teams begin regular-season play the following week.

ATLANTA FALCONS: The Atlanta Falcons play their second and final home preseason game when the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Georgia Dome at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Atlanta is coming off a 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the preseason opener last Thursday in Atlanta.

The final two preseason games for the Falcons are in the Sunshine State. Atlanta visits the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 24 and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 30.

The Atlanta Falcons open the regular season against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 9 in Kansas City, Mo.

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