JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The 2013 high school football season kicks off this weekend, with one North Fulton team playing at home and four others on the road, highlighted by an appearance in the annual Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.
The lone local team at home Friday night is Johns Creek, which hosts Woodstock. Blessed Trinity, the only North Fulton school to win a playoff game last year, plays at rival Westminster. Mount Pisgah is at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian in Sandy Springs, while St. Francis travels to Athens to take on Prince Avenue Christian.
Chattahoochee opens its season at 9 a.m. Saturday against Kell in the opener of the Corky Kell Classic. Four more games are scheduled later Saturday, with Chattahoochee one of only three participating schools not from Cobb or Gwinnett. The other two are South Georgia powers Camden County and Colquitt County.
WOODSTOCK at JOHNS CREEK
The Gladiators coasted to a 28-0 victory at Woodstock last year, but there will be big changes for both teams this season.
Johns Creek lost all but a handful of starters from a team that went 17-3 in the regular season the last two seasons and is undergoing a significant rebuilding process.
After three straight playoff seasons from 2008-10 and three postseason wins during that stretch, Woodstock has suffered through back-to-back losing records in 2011 and ’12, and the Wolverines have junked their wing-T offense for the spread formation.
The Johns Creek defense completely shut down the Wolverines last year, allowing just 100 yards of offense. Most of the defensive regulars from 2012 are gone, but the Gladiators still have some talent along the defensive front and at linebacker.
Offensively, Johns Creek coach Mike Cloy has to replace four-year starter Skye Overton at quarterback while breaking in an all-new line. The Gladiators will rely on Chase Solomon, who rushed for 1,000 yards last season.
BLESSED TRINITY at WESTMINSTER
The Titans are coming off a 9-3 season, which ended in heartbreaking fashion with a 24-23 loss in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs at Cartersville.
Blessed Trinity opened the 2012 season with a 25-20 win over Westminster, which also went on to make the playoffs despite finishing the regular season with a 4-6 record.
The Titans lose most of the starters from a productive offensive unit, but return tailback Milton Shelton, who made an impressive debut as a freshman, rushing for 108 yards against the Wildcats after entering the game to start the third quarter.
Blessed Trinity scored on two safeties and a fumble return in the win over Westminster, with the team’s two offensive touchdowns following a free kick after one of the safeties and an interception.
The Titans also suffered key losses on defense, but return a veteran group of linebackers who should keep BT competitive on that side of the ball.
After losing four straight to Westminster from 2007-10, the Titans have defeated the Wildcats each of the last two seasons. The Wildcats have reached the playoffs each of the last six seasons, winning at least one game five of the six times they made the postseason.
CHATTAHOOCHEE vs. KELL
The Cougars again face a tough season opener against a Kell team that is 31-6 the last three years with four playoff wins.
The Longhorns suffered some major graduation losses after the 2012 season, including two players who signed with Georgia. Kell kept the Chattahoochee offense in check for most of last year’s game at the Georgia Dome, winning 19-8.
The Longhorns return a talented senior quarterback and a few other standouts, but the Cougars also have some returning talent from last year’s 7-4 playoff team, led by several returning starters at running back (Chase Nelson) and receiver (Colin Lisa and Avery Ward).
Chattahoochee has to replace 2012 quarterback Travis Marshall, along with most of the starters in both lines. But the Cougars are expected to be a playoff contender again if they can replace Marshall as effectively as they did Brendan Cross and Timmy Byerly, their previous two Division I-bound quarterbacks.