Football fans have been salivating for the new season.
The wait is almost over.
High school teams in Georgia can officially begin practice on Wednesday to prepare for the season openers on Aug. 31.
The Rebels and Mustangs, like teams all over the state will wear helmets and shoulder pads Wednesday. Full pads cannot be worn until Aug. 6.
“I’m real excited and can’t wait for Wednesday to get here,” Effingham County High School coach Jack Webb said. “We don’t have a lot of time, but we’re going to shake the cobwebs off and get the kids moving.”
South Effingham coach Greg Manior also is ready to start.
“This is something we have been looking forward to all summer,” he said. “Basically, we’ve been working pretty hard and the kids are looking forward to strapping it on.”
For the first few practices, Manior said the Mustangs will work on fundamentals, special teams and putting people in the right spots.
For Effingham County’s two prep teams, the opponents have not changed from last season, but the location of the games have.
On opening night, Effingham County High School hosts Richmond Academy in a Region 2-AAAA contest, while South Effingham High School makes the short drive up to Garden City to play Groves.
County bragging rights will be on the line on Sept. 7 when the Mustangs host the Rebels at the Corral in South Guyton.
ECHS snapped a three-game losing streak last year against its intra-county rivals with a 41-3 win in Springfield.
The Rebels exploded for 407 rushing yards, led by senior running backs Anthony and Antwan Wright’s combined 292 yards.
Meanwhile, the Rebel defense limited the Mustangs to only 120 total yards.
Since the schools split in 1996, ECHS has won 7 of 13.
South Effingham will try to repeat as sub-region champions in Region 3-AAA (A). The Mustangs defeated Liberty County last year 27-7 to claim the title.
However, second-year Mustangs coach Manior knows it will be tough to repeat.
“Everyone starts to gun for you when you’ve been successful,” he said. “But, I see us as underdogs. The subregion championship was nice, but we’re setting our sights on something bigger.”
That being a state playoff win, something the Mustangs have failed to accomplish since opening its school doors in 1996.
The Mustangs’ subregion schedule starts Oct. 12 when Richmond Hill visits the Corral.
Other home subregion games include an Oct. 26 date with Burke County and a Nov. 2 game with Hephzibah.
The Mustangs travel to Savannah to play Benedictine on Oct. 19 and the team concludes the regular season on Nov. 9 at Liberty County.
In Region 3-AAA cross-over games, the Mustangs host Cross Creek on Sept. 28 and travel to 2006 state semi-finalist Washington County the following Friday.
Despite defeating eventual Region 2-AAAA champion Ware County earlier in the season, Effingham County missed out on the playoffs by dropping two of its final three games.
Webb said the goal this season, like each season, is to advance to the playoffs.
The road is tough in the 10-team region because every game except one counts toward making the postseason.
In addition to the opener, home region games for the Rebels include a Sept. 21 game with Ware County, Sept. 28 against Evans, Oct. 26 against Statesboro and Nov. 2 against Lakeside, Evans.
oad region games include a Sept. 14 game in Augusta against Greenbrier, a trip to Brunswick on Oct. 12 to play Glynn Academy, an Oct. 19 game at Wayne County and the season finale at Brunswick High on Nov. 9.
The first round of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs will begin on Nov. 16.