Well, it’s here. The day many people have been looking forward to for months has finally arrived.
High school and college football season officially kicked off last night with an abbreviated slate of games. The high school season begins in earnest tonight and colleges follow suit tomorrow.
There are a lot of unknowns entering the season with new coaches locally at North Jackson, Pisgah and Scottsboro high schools. The same can be said of the SEC where four schools have new head coaches.
How will the season go? I don’t know, but, I will offer my prediction for what it’s worth.
Let’s start with the high school ranks.
North Jackson is coming off a 7-5 season. That was uncharacteristic of the Chiefs who normally dominate North Alabama 4A competition.
New head coach Tony Johnson has worked hard over the summer and during fall workouts to install his offensive and defensive schemes but, let’s face it, he got a late start and North Jackson is at a disadvantage entering the season. Going to Fort Payne to open the 2013 campaign only makes the task tougher. The Chiefs will likely lose the opener and may eventually finish no better than .500 on the year.
Pisgah should be better than last year’s 3-7 team. Predicting how much better is the tough question. With former North Jackson head coach Shawn Peek at the helm, the Eagles will be a faster paced team on the offensive side of the football. Peek wants to play an up tempo style and his team is still adapting to that.
While young, there is optimism and enthusiasm surrounding the program. With the schedule Pisgah faces the team could find the going tough in 2013. The Eagles face several teams that are always in the thick of the playoff race and while the team is likely to be better the task is daunting. Pisgah may be much improved and still finish no better than .500 at best.
Under former Auburn player Patrick Nix, Scottsboro is still an unknown quantity. Like Pisgah, the Wildcats have an almost all new coaching staff and new schemes on both sides of the football.
The Wildcats didn’t play a spring or fall jamboree game so it’s hard to know exactly what to expect when Nix’s first team takes the field Friday night against 6A Buckhorn.
Scottsboro does have a host of returning starters to rely on but others were lost to attrition. Coming off a 2-8 campaign a change of attitude is what was needed most.
Nix believes his team has embraced the changes he has demanded. He’ll find out how they execute and react tonight.
Scottsboro has a daunting schedule ahead. It’s important the Wildcats get off to a good start early in the campaign to gain confidence that has been lacking for years.
Nix’s first team will be better. There is little doubt the 2013 Wildcats are in shape and will be well disciplined but, improving is a process not a sprint. If good things happen early and senior leadership steps to the front, Scottsboro can make strides record wise. Look for the team to finish around the .500 mark with a legitimate shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
In the SEC Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee all have new coaches. None have head coaching experience in the SEC. While hopes are high none of the teams are likely to challenge for division championships much less a conference title this season.
Auburn will be up tempo under Gus Malzahn and has a shot at finishing at break even to sneak into a bowl game and gain momentum for the future. Likewise Tennessee, even though the Vols face five preseason Top 10 teams.
If Arkansas gets a little lucky along the way, the Hogs may threaten that .500 mark. Kentucky isn’t likely to make much noise this year. The Wildcats just don’t have the talent to compete in the SEC at the moment and will struggle to win more than three non-conference games.
Now, file this away and see how I did at the end of the season.
Thank goodness, it’s football time.