E is for Excitement: Regardless of talent, last year’s finish or anything else, each team is filled with hope for the upcoming season. Everyone has the same record right now, and the same chances of reaching the pinnacle of high school football in the Peach State — a trip to the Georgia Dome for a shot at the state championship. Enthusiasm obviously can only take a team so far, but fans with clever noisemakers bring their own enthusiasm as well.
F is for Four-year starters: The four-year starter in high school is a rare thing, and while there may be others around the area, no pair of four-year starters have been as productive as Southeast Whitfield’s Blake Foster and Rhett Harper. Both have been All-Area selections (either as members of the team or honorable mention) in each of the previous three seasons, and barring an early-season injury, there is little doubt that this year will make four. In an age of one-sport specialization, Harper is the rarity of a three-sport athlete, while Foster’s future in college may come on the baseball diamond. But both will have a big impact on how the Raiders fare in year two under coach Sean Gray.
G is for Gamble: Here’s to each fake punt, fake field goal, onsides kick, fourth-and-short attempt, reverse, statue of liberty and any other trick play or risk-taking adventure coaches call during the 2013 season. Some of the most exciting moments in football come when a team rolls the dice, takes a gamble or whatever other casino table metaphor is available. And as with any gambling, a little luck is always necessary to end up on the good side of a 50-50.
H is for Hurt: If you were a Northwest coach, player or fan and didn’t feel this after Gilmer scored the game-winning touchdown last November to clinch a state playoff berth, then you’re a robot. Or you shouldn’t be in Bruin Stadium this season. Gilmer won Region 7’s “play-in” game 40-37 in triple overtime, with the first play of Gilmer’s last possession going for a touchdown. But let that hurt fuel the 2013 Northwest Bruins, who are trying to become coach Robinson’s first squad to make the state postseason and first in program history since 2009. No, those Gilmer Bobcats are not on the regular season schedule, but, yes, a rematch in the “play-in” game is always possible.