Hall County football schedules
Aug. 31 NORTH HALL
Sept. 7 at West Hall
Sept. 21 EASTSIDE
Sept. 28 at Stephens County
Oct. 5 at Johnson
Oct. 12 WALNUT GROVE
Oct. 19 LANIER
Oct. 26 at Lumpkin County
Nov. 2 MONROE AREA
Nov. 9 at Madison County
Dates and locations not yet finalized
Aug. 31 NORTHSIDE WARNER-ROBBINS
Sept. 7 at West Forsyth
Sept. 14 at Cedar Shoals
Sept. 21 LOGANVILLE
Sept. 28 at Salem
Oct. 5 at Apalachee
Oct. 12 WINDER-BARROW
Oct. 19 HERITAGE
Oct. 26 at Clarke Central
Nov. 9 GAINESVILLE
Aug. 30 WEST FORSYTH
Sept. 7 at Buford
Sept. 14 at Winder-Barrow
Sept. 21 APALACHEE
Sept. 28 HERITAGE
Oct. 5 at Cedar Shoals
Oct. 12 at Salem
Oct. 19 CLARKE CENTRAL
Nov. 2 LOGANVILLE
Nov. 9 at Flowery Branch
Aug. 24 WEST HALL
Aug. 31 OGLETHORPE COUNTY
Sept. 7 at North Hall
Sept. 14 NORTH MURRAY
Sept. 21 at East Hall
Oct. 5 at Chestatee
Oct. 12 at Clarkston
Oct. 19 DRUID HILLS
Oct. 26 at Pickens
Nov. 9 at 7-AAAA cross-over
North Cobb Christian
Non-region schedule; Dates and locations not yet finalized, still looking for ninth game
Aug. 31 at Chestatee
Sept. 7 JOHNSON
Sept. 14 JEFFERSON
Sept. 28 at Dawson County
Oct. 5 at East Hall
Oct. 12 FANNIN COUNTY
Oct. 19 WHITE COUNTY
Oct. 26 at West Hall
Nov. 2 BANKS COUNTY
Nov. 9 at Buford
Aug. 24 at Johnson
Sept. 7 CHESTATEE
Sept. 14 LUMPKIN COUNTY
Sept. 21 at Banks County
Sept. 28 FANNIN COUNTY
Oct. 5 at Buford
Oct. 19 at East Hall
Oct. 26 NORTH HALL
Nov. 2 at White County
Nov. 9 DAWSON COUNTY
Schedule was not available as of press time
Home games in CAPS
Last season Flowery Branch and Gainesville were the class of Hall County football. The Red Elephants advanced to the semifinals in Class AAA and the Falcons to the quarterfinals in AAAA.
This season the two will meet on Nov. 9 in Flowery Branch, the final game of the regular season, in a game that could quite possibly decide the region title.
It’s a resumption of an old Region 7-AAA rivalry, when, like now, the two played each other to finish the regular season.
“It will be like old times,” said Gainesville coach Bruce Miller, whose Red Elephants beat the Falcons twice in 2009 — once at the end of the regular season and again in the state semifinals — when the teams last met.
“I just hope we have a team left by the 10th game,” Miller said. “It’s going to be much tougher.”
That’s likely true for the majority of the Hall County football teams.
While the Georgia High School Association is still working to finalize all of the football schedules for the 2012 season, most area teams have already figured out their fall slates.
Not only are the regions looking tougher — in addition to Gainesville joining Flowery Branch in Region 8-AAAAA, Buford joins North Hall and East Hall in 7-AAA — but many teams have tough non-region schedules.
The Falcons host a 2011 semifinal team in Northside-Warner Robins for the season opener on Aug. 31 and follow that with a trip to West Forsyth on Sept. 7, a team coming off of a quarterfinals appearance. That will be followed by eight region games, including a trio of 2011 state playoff teams in Heritage, Clarke Central and Gainesville to finish the regular season.
The Red Elephants will also play West Forsyth, along with Buford, before the region schedule. Last season’s Region 8-AAA champs will actually get an early start on the regular season when they host the Wolverines on Thursday, Aug. 30 in the WSBTV Game of the Week. The game will air live on GPB and WSB. It is the second year of the Thursday night feature.
“It’ll be the first time I’ve played on a Thursday in 25 years,” Miller said.
While the game does beat the official start of the regular season by one day, it’s not actually the first regular season football game in the county.
That honor belongs to the annual Battle of Oakwood, which will be played on Aug. 24 at Johnson.
New West Hall coach Tony Lotti isn’t worried about players and fans alike getting excited for the game, even if it is early.
“The game is going to speak for itself, and as far as I know, it’s the only game in town,” Lotti said. “I don’t think anybody’s going to have a problem getting excited for it.”
It is one of four games against Hall County opponents for Johnson, which is one of two county teams to be playing a non-region schedule next year. The other is Lakeview Academy, which, after debating whether or not to play in Region 8-A, decided to stick with the same plan as the past two years, coach Matthew Gruhn said.
The Knights, who will play a non-region schedule for this two-year cycle in order to remain competitive after an 0-10 year in 2011, will nonetheless play a challenging schedule.
“All the schools are about our size,” said Johnson coach Paul Friel. “We didn’t just go after Class A schools.”
One local team didn’t even stay within the state when looking for opponents. North Hall will play a benefit scrimmage game Aug. 17 at Amherst County High in Virginia.
The Trojans will stay local once the season begins, with non-region games at Chestatee and at home against Johnson and Jefferson before region play begins.
Rivals North Hall and Gainesville will not face each other for the next two seasons.
While most schedules are finalized, a few schools still have a little work to do. Gruhn said the Lions are still looking for a ninth game this season (they played eight last year) and East Hall coach Bryan Gray said he is still working on when and where the Vikings games will be played because he does not yet know when the field house addition will be completed.
GHSA representative Steve Figueroa said that more than 100 schools have yet to turn in schedules, which has prompted the GHSA to grant an extension.
“Unfortunately, the move to six classes plus the split of Class A have combined to make this year’s scheduling gathering a real task,” Figueroa said. “We still hear from coaches who are still looking for games.”
Local coaches have also been busy with preparations for spring practice.
Lotti, who took over as West Hall’s new head coach earlier this year, has planned a spring game in conjunction with a spring festival on May 11 at the end of the spring practice schedule.
“It’ll be a good game atmosphere,” Lotti said. “It’s a good community event to see what we’re about.”
Now that the schedule is in place, the clock is already ticking for Lotti and the rest of the local football coaches, who can now see their opponents in the distance.
The Battle of Oakwood will get the 2012 football season going in Hall County. And a clash between two of the county’s best at Falcon Field looms at the other end.
August is still five months away, but suddenly that doesn’t seem so far.
“And I’ve got a week less to get ready,” Lotti said.