Rivalry Renewed

Two of Walton County’s best will face off Friday night when Selatian Straighter leads Monroe Area into Red Devil Field against Tanner Greene and Loganville.

The disruptions in practices and limited time for preparation could impact the quality of play, at least early in the season. But these two rivals have one advantage: They both return experience at quarterback.

Loganville’s Tanner Greene, in his fourth and final season as a starter under center, will match up arms and legs with Monroe Area’s Selatian Straughter, who earned the starter’s rolled in Game 2 last year and never looked back.

They finished first and third, respectively, in the county in passing last fall. Greene is more of a pocket passer and game manager while Straughter is a dual threat. 

“It definitely helps having a seasoned quarterback,” said Monroe Area head coach Kevin Reach. “They’ve been in the battles and know what to expect.”

Although Reach has schemed to stop Greene and the Red Devils the past three years, all Monroe victories, this season will present more of a challenge. Loganville hired a new head coach in the offseason, bringing on alum Brad Smith to replace Mike Humphreys. 

“We don’t really know that much about them or have any tape,” Reach said. “It’ll definitely be more of a guessing game.”

Given the lack of practice time, chances are good that defenses will dominate. The Red Devils are led by preseason All-State defensive end Neto Okpala, who’s committed to Boston College. The Hurricanes will counter with a solid trio of linebackers led by Jeffrey Smith.

Check out the rest of this week’s high school football action.

Social Circle (0-0 overall) at George Walton (0-0 overall)

It’s been three years since these two squared off and, despite the game being a rout, it was no less memorable. 

The Bulldogs won 26-0, and their final 6 points came on a touchdown pass inside the final minute of the game. The ill will generated by that game put this series on pause. But the young rivalry will resume Friday night at Don Williams Stadium under very different circumstances.

Unlike 2017, both teams are in Class A, the Redskins having dropped from Class AA. Both head coaches are different with GWA’s Shane Davis entering his second season and Rob Patton starting his first season at Social Circle.

But the rosters are the most notable difference. When they last met, GWA fielded a deep and seasoned team while the Redskins were young and inexperienced. The storyline is flipped this fall.

The Bulldogs have lost 26 seniors over the past two graduating classes and have just six 12th graders on the roster. Meanwhile, Social Circle returns the nucleus of last year’s squad, most notably on offense, where the county’s top receiver (Eric Taylor) and second best passer (Logan Cross) are back.

The Redskins have never beaten the Bulldogs in four tries, losing by an average of 28 points. At least on paper, they appear to have the resources to turn things around. 

Providence Christian (0-0 overall) at Loganville Christian (0-0 overall)

When the Lions look across the field at their opponent Friday night, they could be staring at their future. 

The Storm joined the Georgia High School Association in 2014, and it’s been an uphill climb. They won two games over their first two seasons and have won six the past two years. They’ll be breaking in their third new head coach this fall.

As for the Lions, they’ll be starting their first year in the GHSA with their third head coach since the season ended in the second round of the playoffs last November. Patrick Stewart stepped away and is now assisting at his alma mater, GWA. 

The Lions hired Adam Miller, but he decided to return to Shiloh before holding his first practice. LCA quickly turned to Tim Wellmaker, who’ll be coaching his first varsity high school game. 

Walnut Grove (0-0 overall) at New Manchester (0-0 overall)

Walnut Grove looks to start the season on a high note after finishing last season on an extremely sour one. The Warriors originally scheduled Miller Grove to open the season, but COVID-19 cause DeKalb County schools to suspend fall sports. Instead, Walnut Grove gets to travel to Douglasville to face off against New Manchester.

The Jaguars have struggled in recent years since the graduation of recent UGA football star Brian Herrian in 2016. Over the past four years New Manchester has amassed just eight wins and has gone through three coaches.

However, in that same time, Walnut Grove has also only won eight games including a winless campaign last fall.

David Johnson is a correspondent for The Walton Tribune.

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