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Murphy: Great games are what football's all about
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Friday’s games

Banks County at Riverside

Buford at North Hall

Morgan County at Commerce

East Hall at White County

Flowery Branch at Lumpkin County

Franklin County at Gainesville

Habersham Central at Heritage

Sonoraville at Jackson County

Dawson County at Jefferson

Johnson at North Forsyth

Lakeview at Towns County

North Georgia Christian at Covenant Christian

Rabun County at Union County

West Hall at Pickens

I couldn’t help but find myself in a bit of a lull for the opening of the high school football season last Friday night. Not to take anything away from the games that were played in the area, but there really weren’t any compelling matchups, with the exception of Jefferson against Commerce.

This week there’s a cure in sight with the North Hall and Buford game at The Brickyard.

You see, this is the time in the season when programs can take a chance and play some better competition with the chance of creating a pretty compelling matchup, regardless of what classification or region a school may fit into.

Great games, after all, are what make high school football so exciting.

Now we all know that high school matchups change all the time if you don’t play in the same region. After this season, there’s no guarantee that North Hall and Buford will play again anytime soon. But isn’t it fun to watch two successful programs duke it out?

Just like the Gainesville and North Hall rivalry that took an 11-year hiatus before being reignited in 2002: and now it’s even better.

Now, I would be omitting a major point to the debate if I failed to mention that the economy these days plays a role in how far a school is willing to travel for a game of little consequence. But for the sake of debate, I wanted to throw out some rivalries that would be fun for local fans to see again, or new rivalries that could be compelling to watch.

The first matchup that crossed my mind was the Gainesville rivalry with the old Athens High, now Clarke Central. I’ve heard stories on both ends about how much these two schools used to enjoy playing one another. While I was a student at the University of Georgia my boss, Ken Thomas, used to tell me about the games he played in against Gainesville, since he knew I was from the area.

After doing some research, it turns out that Gainesville played the schools in Athens for a span of 29 seasons. Gainesville won 14 of 22 games against Athens High from 1948-69, before winning four of the next six games when it was renamed Clarke Central in 1970. The Red Elephants faced Cedar Shoals, also in Athens, for two seasons before the annual trips to Athens ended.

The way I see it, seeing Gainesville play a school like Clarke Central again would be great for fans. Both schools would certainly be pretty even on a talent level, even though the Gladiators play in Class AAAA.

Another game I’d like to see, even though it has a much less competitive past, but could make for a great rivalry in the future — North Hall and Stephens County.

Can you imagine the crowd that would draw with these two fan bases, regardless if the game was to be played at The Brickyard or The Reservation?

The last time these two schools met was the second round of the 2004 state playoffs, with the Trojans winning for the first time in the series history.

Another rivalry that would be great to see is two schools that have never even played. Who wouldn’t like to see an early season game between Flowery Branch and North Gwinnett? Two teams that have both played for state titles in recent seasons would be fun to see, plus they’re only separated by about 20 minutes.

The last rivalry that came to mind that I wanted to throw out there is of the private school variety: Lakeview Academy and Riverside Military Academy. It would be fun to see since they’re the two private schools, both in the GHSA, that play only a couple miles apart in Gainesville. Right now, these two schools wouldn’t be very competitive, with Lakeview still in the building stages of its program, but it could become a rivalry with bragging rights involved in the future if they gave it a chance.

Other people may have different ideas of a rivalry game that would be fun to see. That’s why it’s a fun topic to talk about.

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