Tuesday may have been the first day of summer, but for high school football fans, it was another day closer to the kickoff of the 2022 season.
There are only 59 days until the third annual Coweta-Fayette Kickoff Classic. The Aug. 20 tripleheader will return to Starr’s Mill High School for the second year in a row.
The day will start with Northgate facing Whitewater at 12:30 p.m., followed by Newnan against Sandy Creek, and the nightcap will be East Coweta playing Starr's Mill.
In last year's classic, East Coweta defeated Whitewater 41-24, Northgate fell to Sandy Creek 24-3, and Newnan lost to Starr's Mill 28-14.
Northgate and the Whitewater Wildcats were in the same region the past two seasons, which meant they could not face off in the classic. However, Whitewater dropped to Class 4A this year while Northgate remained in Class 5A.
The Vikings lost to Whitewater last season 23-12 but played the Wildcats tough throughout. Whitewater ended up advancing to the third round of the state playoffs, where they had a tough loss to Creekside, 20-13.
Whitewater has one of the top defensive players in the state in linebacker Raul Aguirre. The Wildcat defense will be stout along with other defensive starters, Will Snellings and Stephen Johnson.
The Vikings’ ball-control offense must move the chains and create time-consuming drives in the heat of the day to wear Whitewater down.
The Newnan-Sandy Creek game is also a rematch from last season. The Cougars lost a one-point heartbreaker last year to the Sandy Creek Patriots at Drake Stadium.
The Patriots feature an explosive offensive combination of quarterback Geimere Latimer, a Tulane commit, and running back Kaleb Cost, who just committed to North Carolina.
In their 2021 game against the Cougars, Latimer threw four touchdown passes in the 35-34 Patriot victory.
Newnan Cougars Head Coach Chip Walker was the head coach at Sandy Creek from 2005 through 2016, where he won 127 games and three state championships.
The day's final game will be East Coweta against the Starr's Mill Panthers. It is a rematch of a classic from the 2020 opener when the Indians won an overtime thriller 21-20.
It was the beginning of the Daniel Shoch era at quarterback for East Coweta, and he completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Evan Prosser in overtime for a 21-14 lead. After the Panthers scored a touchdown in their overtime possession, the Indians defense broke up a two-point conversion for the win.
Current East Coweta senior running back Trey Bowles had 89 yards rushing and a touchdown in that game.
The Panthers rely on a precision option offense to control field position and the clock. They will put the speedy Indians defense to the early in the 2022 season.
With the drop-back passing, Shoch graduated and playing for the Mercer Bears, the Indians offense will look a bit different this season. The opener will be an excellent opportunity to see where Head Coach John Small's team is and where to improve for the upcoming Region 2-7A schedule.
Outside the Coweta-Fayette Classic, the Trinity Christian Lions will open their 2022 season at home against the Woodward Academy War Eagles on Friday, Aug. 19.
The Class A Private defending State Champion Lions made a huge jump up to Class 4A and will face a War Eagles team that finished 11-1 last year. It will be the first game in four years that David Dallas, who is at Georgia Southern now, will not be at quarterback. Senior Henry Brodnax will take snaps to start the season.
The Heritage Hawks return to the Georgia Independent School Association for the 2022 season and open with St. Mary’s (formerly Our Lady of Mercy) at home on Friday, Aug. 19.
At Central Christian, the Crusaders will return to eight-man football, where they dominated in the past, for the 2022 season. They will open their season the following week, Aug. 26, at home against Unity Christian School.