SHANNON FAGAN: Happy birthday Bethany!

Every Friday night in the late summer/early fall is special because there’s just nothing like high school football in small towns.

Freshly cut football fields, the smell of barbeque, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, the bleachers packed with colorful fans, and two teams ready to battle it out all underneath the stadium lights help make the season just right. I couldn’t ask for a better job.

The season has taken on an even more special meaning in recent years after I met my soon-to-be bride Bethany Garmon. We’ve been dating for almost two years now and will tie the knot Oct. 28. I’ve never met anyone who is my equal in so many ways.

One of her best qualities is how understanding she is with this crazy night life I live in the career I’ve chosen. I won’t get to spend Friday evening with her, which is her birthday, because of the six games we have going on around the area that will keep me up through the wee hours of Saturday morning, but she knows I’ll make it up to her this weekend.

So join me in wishing a happy birthday to my beloved Bethany. I’m so thankful we met and I know how fortunate I am to have you in my life. Here’s to your special day and the many more birthdays we’ll celebrate together.

Now if I could only get her to help me with this week’s picks.

Section (0-3) at Sand Rock (0-3): One team will get its first win and jump back in the playoff hunt. The other will continue its tailspin to begin the 2023 season.

Sand Rock has traditionally fared very well against the Lions. The Wildcats have a 17-3-2 mark against Section, including a 35-6 victory last season. That, and the fact that it’s homecoming, are good enough for me to give Sand Rock an edge here.

The pick: Sand Rock.

Piedmont (0-2) at Plainview (1-1): Like Section and Sand Rock, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for Piedmont too. But I’ve got a hunch a breakthrough is about to happen for new head coach Jonathan Miller’s Bulldogs. It won’t be an easy task on the road against coaching legend Dale Pruitt, but I think Piedmont finally gets in the win column this week.

The pick: Piedmont.

Victory Christian (2-1) at Spring Garden (1-2): Spring Garden’s offense has struggled to put anything together the past couple of weeks in losses to Coosa Christian and Wadley. But much like I said with Piedmont, I think the Panthers are due for a big night offensively, especially against a team that’s never beaten them. The Lions are 0-3 against Spring Garden, and it’s homecoming in the Garden, so I’ll take the Panthers in this one.

The pick: Spring Garden.

Pisgah (2-0) at Collinsville (2-0): Just call this one a battle of the Masons – Pisgah senior quarterback Mason Holcomb and Collinsville freshman Mason McAteer. Both quarterbacks are off to hot starts this season. I’ll give the edge to Holcomb, since he’s had a bit more experience in his career.

The pick: Pisgah.

Gaylesville (0-3) at Cedar Bluff (1-2): Cedar Bluff is honoring its past Final Four basketball teams in its first home game of the season. Being at home for the first time and honoring the basketball greats should be inspiration enough for the Tigers to take the win over rival Gaylesville.

The pick: Cedar Bluff.

Oneonta (2-1) at Cherokee County (3-0): This week’s Foothills Tractor Game of the Week features a rematch of last year’s Class 4A North state semifinal battle, won by the Warriors 42-21.

It doesn’t get any closer than this series. It’s tied at 12-12-1, with some classic battles scattered throughout. I don’t think this one will disappoint either, but when the final horn sounds, I think the Warriors break the series tie with a win.

The pick: Cherokee County.

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