By John McWilliams
While North Forsyth and Forsyth Central square off at the Bulldogs’ field tonight, three other local football programs will also see their first action of the season.
South Forsyth and Pinecrest Academy kick off the season at home, and Lambert opens the 2012 campaign on the road against Etowah.
South Forsyth vs. Northview (7:30 p.m.)
Containment will be the name of the game for South Forsyth tonight.
The Northview Titans (Region 7A-AAAAA) finished the 2011 season with the same 2-8 record South had, but War Eagles head coach Jeff Arnette knows that last season’s mark is no indication of how the Titans will play on Friday.
Northview runs a spread offense that heavily relies on senior Terrence Upshaw, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back.
Upshaw, who has an offer from Vanderbilt, has also garnered interest from Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Clemson.
"They have a great running back who’s going to play at Vanderbilt," Arnette said. "He runs the ball very hard and is going to be a challenge for us. We’re going to do our best to contain him."
The Titans will use a 4-4 defense to try and slow the War Eagles’ run game, but Arnette has confidence in the offense.
"We have to cut down on mistakes and hold on to the football," Arnette said. "We need to keep the ball and win each possession."
With the first regular season game approaching, Arnette said the team is "real healthy" and ready to play.
"The guys are full of excitement," Arnette said. "We’ve been working since the spring to get ready for this. We have guys who got starts the previous year that have more experience and we’re all excited."
Pinecrest Academy vs. King’s Ridge (7:30 p.m.)
Pinecrest Academy coach Todd Winter knows what it will take for the Paladins to win their opener tonight — it’s just a matter of executing.
"Turnovers are number one if we want to win," Winter said. "Another will be a sound kicking game to get the advantage in field position. And we have to have sustained drives on offense and need to bend but don’t break on defense."
Pinecrest (3-7) is familiar with King’s Ridge (5-5), a team that runs multiple formations on offense and uses a 3-4 defense.
Last season King’s Ridge sophomore quarterback Bailey Miller threw for three touchdowns in a 21-18 victory over the Paladins.
The Paladins will focus on Miller, now a junior, and are determined not to let him have the same success.
"He’s got a decent arm and can do some things in the pocket," head coach Todd Winter said. "He can throw deep and has two receivers who are big and fast that come down with the ball."
Pinecrest quarterback Jimmy Strom was also effective against the opposing defense, as he was able to pass for 196 yards and one touchdown against the Tigers before throwing a last-second interception. But on the ground, Pinecrest was held to just 36 rushing yards.
"This is a great game to evaluate where you’re at," Winter said. "It’s important that we’re not focused on winning and losing, only competing. ... It’s part of a process. We can’t be overcome with emotion."
Lambert at Etowah (7:30 p.m.)
The first game of the season will be a solid test for Lambert.
The Longhorns travel to Etowah to try to stop the Eagles (6-5), a team that reached the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs last season.
Lambert (8-3) reached the Class AAAA playoffs in 2011 for a second straight year before falling to Clarke Central in the first round.
Lambert is expected to rely heavily on the ground game this season, meaning senior running back Daniel Myers (1,023 rushing yards and eight touchdowns last season) may carry much of the load against the Eagles.