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Season is upon us: Here's 5 things to know going into opening night of the football season in Hall County
Flowery Branch football practice
Flowery Branch High football practice Aug. 18, 2021. Photo by Bill Murphy

With the start of the football regular season upon us, all the offseason speculation and preseason banter can cease. 

Now, it’s time to play meaningful games Friday for 9 of the 11 programs in Hall County. 

Here’s 5 things to know for Opening Day of the 2021 regular season. 

1. LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Gainesville’s opener against John’s Creek will come with an unusual level of exposure. As part of the Corky Kell Classic, this is one of 11 matchups across the state, and will kickoff at 5:30 p.m. at City Park Stadium. The game will be broadcast on Peachtree TV. 

This is the first time in 10 years that the Red Elephants have opened with a broadcasted matchup. In 2011, Gainesville faced Buford and it was shown online through ESPN. 

This season, the Red Elephants are under the instruction of fourth-year coach Heath Webb and are gearing up for a grueling run against six other Forsyth County schools in Region 6-7A. 

The non-region schedule for Gainesville is challenging with games also against Flowery Branch, ranked No. 8 in Class 4A, Chattahoochee and Hillgrove. 

2. FIRST ON THE NEW FIELD: Johnson has bragging rights. It’s the first of five programs in the Hall County schools district to be able to play a game on its new synthetic playing field. 

On Friday, the Knights open against defending Region 7-3A champion Cherokee Bluff at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium. 

All Johnson football tickets must be purchased online at www.gofan.co.

Along with Johnson, East Hall, Cherokee Bluff, Chestatee and West Hall have new playing fields in 2021. 

After a Week 1 bye, East Hall will open the season against West Hall on Aug. 27. Next week, Cherokee Bluff will play its home opener against Chestatee. 

Delays in receiving materials for the field at West Hall mean that its home opener will not be until Sept. 24, the Region 7-3A opener against North Hall. 

3. BUILDING A RIVALRY: When No. 8 Flowery Branch visits St. Pius X, No. 8 in Class 5A, this marks only the second time the two schools have ever met. 

The first meeting was in 2020, a 38-28 win for the Golden Lions. 

4. DOUBLE DIP?: With Gainesville’s late afternoon kickoff, it will be possible for ardent fans to catch two games in the city on the same night. 

Just 1 1/4 miles from City Park Stadium, Riverside Military Academy hosts Notre Dame Prep in a traditional 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Maginnis Field. 

5. VETERAN QBS STARTING SENIOR CAMPAIGNS: There’s plenty of accomplished signal callers who are getting ready for their final season in high school. Flowery Branch’s David Renard threw for 2,700 yards last season. Meanwhile, Cherokee Bluff’s Sebastian Irons is back after a successful region title campaign in 2020. 

East Hall’s Clete Cooper has passed for more than 5,000 career yards and kicks off the season in Week 2 against West Hall in Gainesville. 

North Hall’s Bradford Puryear is a third-year starter and Chestatee’s Luke Bornhorst is in his second year at quarterback. 

After a first week bye, the War Eagles open the season against Cherokee Bluff on Aug. 27 in Flowery Branch. 

Friday's schedule

Gainesville vs. John's Creek, 5:30 p.m., Corky Kell Classic

Cherokee Bluff at Johnson

West Hall at East Jackson

North Hall at Paulding County

Flowery Branch at St. Pius X

Lakeview Academy at Mount Paran Christian

Riverside Military vs. Notre Dame Prep

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