David Johnson is a correspondent for The Walton Tribune.

When or if (and my money’s reluctantly on “if” at this point) the new high school football season kicks off in Walton County, it promises to be one for the books. I’m still hoping it’ll be one of those epic tomes as opposed to a children’s reader, but time will tell.

It doesn’t look promising.

Just this past week, three southeast Georgia school systems suspended off-season workouts until next month after COVID-19 cases started popping up in locker rooms. A few days later, the virus appeared among players in metro Atlanta, most ominously for us in neighboring Gwinnett County. 

These cases, combined with the rash of outbreaks among college teams around the country, leaves you thinking the unthinkable: A fall without football. 

There are worse things in the everyday world, but it would be the apocalypse in the sporting universe. Locally, so many storylines would go unwritten. For example…

The battle for the county passing title was setting up to be a barn-burner. The top three passers from last year – Loganville’s Tanner Greene, Social Circle’s Logan Cross, and Monroe Area’s Selatian Straughter — all return. The trio were separated by fewer than 30 total passing yards last fall.

My gut tells me Cross, the younger of the three as a sophomore, will finish atop the leader board, largely because the offense he’ll run will have him slinging the ball all over the field. It also helps that his favorite target will be last year’s top receiver in the county.

Meanwhile, half of our area teams are breaking in new head coaches. Most intriguing is Loganville, which brought home an alum to lead its program. Brad Smith, Class of 2004, played on former head coach Tommy Stringer’s final team. 

The Red Devils are scheduled to kick off the season against arch rival Monroe Area at the Purple Pit followed two weeks later by a home game against state powerhouse Parkview, which is led by former Loganville head coach Eric Godfree. 

Smith will have to use his best poker face to hide the emotions that will surely be bubbling up inside. 

The most interesting team to watch this fall will be Social Circle, itself under new management. The Redskins ventured into Gwinnett County to snatch away a couple of coaches from Collins Hill --- head coach Rob Patton and defensive coordinator Nate Ethridge. Joining them to run the offense is former Red Devils coordinator Jimmy Jarrett.

The trio inherited an impressive roster, particularly on offense. That, combined with being dropped into a lower classification, gives the Redskins a legitimate chance at having a winning season for the first time in 14 years. 

These and so many more stories are just waiting to be rewritten. Let’s hope we get the chance.

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