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Football is finally back

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Football is finally back

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Brandon Bush Sports Writer

After a long summer of slinging together various sports stories around town, the main event is finally back.

Football has returned to Putnam County, beginning with this week’s matchup between the all-new Putnam County War Eagles and North Oconee Titans followed by next week’s rivalry game between Gatewood and John Milledge Academy. It is sure to be a fun and interesting year for both of our area’s teams as we head into 2018.

I’ve definitely been missing going out under the Friday night lights every week, and I’m sure most of you have been feeling the same. Well, the most wonderful time of the year is finally here again and I am glad to be able to get back into the groove of things.

Football is my favorite sport and, when I first started at The Messenger, I had the privilege to drop right in at the start of the season. My first game was a rivalry face-off between Gatewood and Brentwood, which culminated in a 34-0 thrashing in favor of the Gators, who went on to have an undefeated regular season and a strong playoff run.

The next week, I got to see the War Eagles for the first time as they fought their way to a close one, coming away 14-8 over Hancock Central. I mostly stuck to watching Putnam County for the rest of its season and, in the process, I was able to see many new places in the state of Georgia as I followed the Eagles’ season, such as Elbert County’s famous Granite Bowl stadium as well as Rabun County’s impressive facilities.

It is unfortunate that I didn’t get to see more of Putnam County that year as the Eagles were unable to make the playoffs. However, I am confident in Putnam this season under its brand-new coaching staff, led by former defensive coordinator (now head coach) Shaun Pope.

I believe that the Eagles are on their way to doing great things in the seasons to come, and I’m excited to be able to take part in their journey this year.

Then, of course, there are the Gatewood Gators.

Gatewood went to the state championship game two years ago and were in the final four last season. While the Gators have had to replace a number of starters, they should still be able to thrive under the leadership of seasoned coach Jeff Ratliff and his keen offensive mind.

It will be a fight every step of the way for Gatewood, beginning with another high-stakes face-off with its old enemy (and my alma mater, funnily enough), JMA.

Gatewood made a statement last season by thrashing JMA on its own field, so the Trojans should be hungry for some revenge.

However, I am confident that Gatewood’s winning ways will propel it to another great season to add to its renaissance period.

I’m keeping my first column about local sports short, sweet and to the point this week because, honestly, I can’t say anything more that isn’t just me repeating how happy I am football is. For both the War Eagles and the Gators, 2018 should be a fun season.

See you all on the field.