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Thank goodness, football is here

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

I wasn’t sure we’d get here.

It’s been such an unusual, unprecedented summer for high-school football in Georgia because of Covid-19.

Even as teams were given the go-ahead to start practicing in June, the speculation on whether there would be games played this fall remained.

That speculation never went away, and it only strengthened when the Georgia High School Association decided to cancel the preseason games and push the start of the season back two weeks.

Through it all, the local players and coaches continued to show up for work.

While the doubt had to be lingering in the back of their minds, they didn’t let it impact the way they prepared, and it looks as though the dedication and commitment they’ve shown hasn’t been for naught.

Football season is here.

On Friday night, the LaGrange, Troup and Lafayette Christian School football teams will get their seasons started, while Callaway opens a week later on Sept. 11.

From making the rounds over the past few weeks and visiting with coaches and players, there is an unquestioned sense of optimism among the local teams.

They absolutely believe some special things are ahead this season, and I’m grateful they’ll get a chance to try to make that a reality.

There are so many interesting storylines to follow.

At LaGrange, first-year head coach Matt Napier is tasked with helping turn things around for a program that has struggled of late.

The Grangers haven’t won more than two games in a season since 2015, and they’ve won a combined six games the past four years.

Napier is embracing this challenge, and I know he, the other coaches, and the players are eager to get LaGrange football moving in the right direction.

At Callaway, the standard is a lofty one with head coach Pete Wiggins leading the way.

The Cavaliers are to a point where they enter a season as a legitimate challenger to win a state championship, and this year is no exception.

The Cavaliers’ season ended in the state semifinals the past two years, and will this be the year they break through and get an opportunity to play for a state title? No one would be surprised if that happens.

Troup’s program is also in a great place with head coach Tanner Glisson in charge.

Since going 1-9 in Glisson’s first year in 2015, the Tigers have won 35 games the past four years, and they went 12-2 in 2018 and made it to the state semifinals for the second time in program history.

Glisson really likes the cohesion of this team, and I know he’s excited to lead the players onto the field.

The Lafayette Christian School Cougars, meanwhile, are looking to take the next step and win a state title after losing in the championship game the past two years.

In short order (the program is barely a decade old), Lafayette Christian’s program has established as one of the best in the state.

This team, with Billy Bryant returning for his second season as head coach, no doubt has what it takes to add a second state-championship trophy to the collection.

So here we are.

Football season, and it makes me so happy to write these words, has arrived, and I can’t wait to get on the sidelines and see these teams go to work.