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Football: Preview of Week 1 matchups
Raleigh Herbert file
West Forsyth's Raleigh Herbert celebrates during a 42-6 win over Mays in the Corky Kell Classic Sept. 2, 2020, at home. Herbert and the Wolverines host Archer, along with a matchup between North Forsyth and North Atlanta, in the 2022 edition of the annual season-opening showcase. (FCN file photo)
North Forsyth vs. North Atlanta

When, where: 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Wolverine Stadium in Cumming

Series history: First meeting

What to know: North Forsyth opens up the Corky Kell Classic double-dip at West Forsyth with its first-ever meeting against North Atlanta. The Class 6A programs each had eerily similar fates in 2021. Both the Raiders and the Warriors narrowly missed out on the playoffs due to tiebreakers. In Region 6-7A, North Forsyth finished in a three-way tie with West Forsyth and Lambert but ended up being on the outside looking in. Ditto for North Atlanta in Region 4-6A, with Lovejoy and Tucker managing to get into the postseason instead of Jamie Aull’s bunch. While scrimmage final scores don’t mean much, North Forsyth edged Dawson County by a 24-17 margin on Aug. 8. The Raiders will follow up their televised opener with games against Forsyth Central and West Forsyth, their only intra-county matchups of the year after dropping down to 6A.

Archer at West Forsyth 

When, where: 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Wolverine Stadium in Cumming

Series history: First meeting

What to know: For the third consecutive year, West Forsyth is beginning the season earlier than most of its county brethren. After decisively winning home games over lower classification foes the past two years in the Corky Kell Classic, the Wolverines will face fellow Class 7A side Archer in the nightcap this time. In 2020, Dave Svhela made his West Forsyth debut with a 42-6 shellacking of Mays, which was preseason No. 9 in 4A that season. Last year, the Wolverines beat up on Carver (Atlanta) — which went on to reach the 3A state finals — by a 38-8 margin in their opener. West Forsyth looked ready to start the real games Aug. 9, when it took down Lanier by a 30-7 final in a scrimmage. Senior Peyton Streko ran for two touchdowns in the game, and the Air Force Academy commit could be the key for the Wolverines in their hopes of toppling the Tigers.

Denmark at Roswell

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ray Manus Stadium in Roswell

Series history: First meeting

What to know: This is going to be an emotional atmosphere. There’s no other way to put it. Having played its scrimmage on the road at Westlake, Roswell will be playing its first home game since the death of Robbie Roper. The standout senior quarterback for the 2021 Hornets team died in December 2021 from complications caused by a urea cycle disorder, a rare genetic disorder that keeps the body from properly filtering ammonia from the bloodstream. It’s hard to predict how the Roswell players will react to the situation, but Denmark will certainly expect to get their best shot. The Danes looked explosive on offense and tough on defense in their scrimmage. If quarterback Jacob Nelson continues to build off his solid showing in the scrimmage, Denmark will be tough to beat — even for a Class 6A team that reached the 7A quarterfinals in 2021.

Chattahoochee at Forsyth Central

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium in Cumming

Series history: Chattahoochee leads 3-1

Last meeting: Chattahoochee won 34-7 in 2011 

What to know: There were a few local teams that shined in their scrimmages, but Forsyth Central may have put together the most impressive showing. Facing a Pope program that finished 7-4 last year, the Bulldogs pitched a first-half shutout. The offense, though, proved to be even more impressive, finding the end zone four times before halftime and three more times after. It bodes well for Forsyth Central’s chances of getting off to hot start against Chattahoochee, which holds a 6-33 record over the past four years. One of the previous four meetings between the teams came in 2010. The Cougars won that matchup by a 35-14 final score to improve to 2-0 on the season. That Chattahoochee team wound up going 15-0 and winning the Class 4A state title. History probably won’t repeat itself this year, but both sides will crave an early victory.

Holy Spirit Prep at Horizon Christian

When, where: 5:30 p.m. Friday at Warrior Field in Cumming

Series history: Horizon leads 3-0

Last meeting: Horizon won 56-0 in 2021

What to know: If recent history is any indication, Horizon Christian could be cruising to an opening-week victory over Holy Spirit Prep. The Warriors blasted the Atlanta-based Cougars 56-0 last year. That came on the heels of a 61-6 rout in 2020 and 45-6 drubbing in 2018. Considering the even more fast-paced approach that Damon Taylor and Co. are expecting to employ this season, the score could be even more lopsided. Then again, Horizon did graduate some key seniors, so there could be a bit of a learning curve for the group. However, the Cougars seem like a perfect opponent to help the Warriors get off on the right foot.

Lambert at Sequoyah

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Skip Pope Stadium in Canton

Series history: Tied 1-1

Last meeting: Lambert won 24-21 in 2011

What to know: These two teams met in each of Lambert’s first two full seasons, as members of Region 7-4A. The Longhorns made the playoffs each of those years and qualified for the postseason in six of their first seven campaigns. But last year’s playoff berth snapped a four-year postseason drought, and first-year head coach Marc Beach will look to build on that. Lambert’s scrimmage didn’t go well, but Walton, coming off a trip to the Class 7A semifinals, was a difficult opponent. Sequoyah held its own against Denmark in its preseason tilt. Even though the Chiefs starters didn’t score, the team’s defense limited the Danes to just seven points. Sequoyah head coach James Teter has been at the Cherokee County school since 2009, taking over for Sid Maxwell — who started the Lambert program that fall and is now entering his eighth season at Dawson County.

Notre Dame Academy at Pinecrest

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pinnacle Field in Cumming

Series history: Pinecrest leads 1-0

Last meeting: Pinecrest won 49-12 in 2021

What to know: Similarly to Horizon Christian, Pinecrest gets a rather soft landing spot, at least on paper, to begin its 2022 season. In the only previous meeting between Notre Dame Academy, which is housed in Duluth, and Pinecrest, the Paladins rolled to a decisive 49-12 victory last fall. Pinecrest has had plenty of success since naming Shawn Coury as head coach prior to the 2020 campaign. In Coury’s two years in charge, the Paladins have compiled a 19-3 record, won a GAPPS 8-man championship in 2020 and reached the 11-man semifinals last fall. Pinecrest will look to use its opening week to springboard itself into another successful season.

Lanier at South Forsyth

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at War Eagle Stadium in Cumming

Series history: First meeting

What to know: Despite their relatively close proximity, South Forsyth and Lanier haven’t met on the gridiron during the Gwinnett County program’s decade of existence. While the War Eagles sputtered some on offense during their scrimmage at Shiloh, South Forsyth has the playmakers to put up points against most opponents. Given that Lanier allowed 30 points in its scrimmage versus West Forsyth, the Longhorns appear to be a defense that Troy Morris’ side could exploit. Lanier went 4-6 last fall, giving up 28 points per game, but the Longhorns did make the plays as the No. 4 seed out of Region 8-6A behind champion Buford, semifinalist Dacula and Shiloh. South Forsyth, meanwhile, finished tied for first with Denmark in Region 6-7A. However, a 17-14 loss to the Danes denied the War Eagles their fourth overall region championship and third since 2015.