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High school football: Week 1 capsules
West Hall's TK Hendrix (32) stops Gainesville wide receiver Andy Hayes (10) during a 2016 game at Spartan Field. - photo by Time file photo

Buford vs. Hillgrove 

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. tonight

WHERE: Georgia State Stadium (Formerly Turner Field), Atlanta

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Class 5A state runner-up Wolves will be one of the first to break in the newly renovated Georgia State Stadium when they face Hillgrove in the Corky Kell Classic.

The Wolves, now under the leadership of John Ford, will look to start 2017 on the right footing after a heartbreaking loss to Rome in the GHSA title game at the Georgia Dome in December. Hillgrove (Class 7A), sharing the same region as last season’s state quarterfinalist McEachern, fell in the opening round of the playoffs to finish with a 5-6 mark.

East Hall vs. Habersham Central

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight

WHERE: East Hall Stadium, Gainesville

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Coming off an unfavorable finish in 2016 with a 3-7 mark, the returning Times’ Player of the Year and an explosive Vikings offense opens the season against the highest-classified opponent it has ever faced. The ever-improving Raiders (Class 6A) line up in the spread too, though they will be without the talents of tailback Michael Babers, quarterback Cole Wilbanks and wide receiver Aaron Wood, who have all graduated.

Gainesville vs. West Hall

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight

WHERE: City Park, Gainesville

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This will be the second annual Marvin Orenstein Kickoff Classic hosted by the two schools. The non-region game is to honor Marvin Orenstein, a long-time, ardent supporter of high school sports for all schools in Hall County.

The Spartans (7-5 overall in 2016) reached the second-round of the playoffs last fall for the first time since 2000, while the Red Elephants (5-5 during the 2016 regular season) fell in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.

Johnson vs. Social Circle

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight

WHERE: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Gainesville

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Knights will take on Class 2A opponent Social Circle seeking to win their first game since Sept. 25, 2015. Johnson coach Jason Roquemore is optimistic about his team’s direction, especially with junior quarterback Sam Corbett entering his third season running the option.

Social Circle, meanwhile, has been on the rise the past few seasons after falling on similarly tough times. Fourth-year coach Chad Estes will rely on senior quarterback Jackson Will as his biggest offensive threat.

White County vs. Franklin County

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight

WHERE: White County Stadium, Cleveland

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: After managing just one win last season, the Warriors are hoping to turn the page under new head coach Tim Cokely. His first task is beating a Franklin County team that lost a tight, low-scoring game in the first round of last year’s Class 3A playoffs.

Senior quarterback Jordan Palmer is set to start his first-ever varsity game for White County, though he’ll have four-year starting running back Kaleb Crane alongside him in the backfield. Jay Lepkoske and Ty Ulrich are expected to anchor the Warriors’ defense.

Chestatee vs. North Hall

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight

WHERE: War Eagle Stadium, Gainesville

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