Thursday, August 24, 2017

Aug. 18 season-opener was the earliest in Sparta Academy football history

Sparta QB Sean Kelly (12) picks up yards.
A local sports fan asked me the other night if Sparta Academy had ever played their season-opener as early as they played this year’s, which is two weeks before most AHSAA teams open up their seasons.

Friday’s date was Aug. 18, so I went back through Sparta’s football records and discovered that Friday night’s game was actually the earliest that Sparta had ever started their regular season schedule, but just barely.

Prior to Friday night, the earliest that Sparta had ever kicked off regular season play was in 2011 when the Warriors played Escambia Academy in Evergreen on Aug. 19. The year before, in 2010, the Warriors kicked off the regular season on Aug. 20 with another season-opener against Escambia.

Going all the way back to Sparta’s first football season in 1971, the most common start dates for the season are Aug. 26 and Aug. 30. Sparta has started their seasons six times each on those days. Sparta has started the season five different times on Aug. 29.

Sparta has played their season-opener in September only five times, and three of those games fell on Sept. 1. The latest that Sparta has played their first game of the season was in 1990 when the Warriors played Escambia Academy in Evergreen on Sept. 7.

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I really enjoy following the Atlanta Braves, but now that they are out of contention for the playoffs, it’s a struggle.

They appear to be playing hard day in and day out, and some of the younger prospects are getting a lot of good playing time. As of Monday, the Braves had about 40 games left on their schedule and the upside seems to be that now is a good time to get tickets because there isn’t much demand for them. If you’ve got the time and the cash, it would be worth the trip to Atlanta to see the Braves’ new stadium, SunTrust Park.

As of Monday, the Braves were 55-67, so it’s not inconceivable that they could finish the year at or above .500, which would actually be something to brag about considering the season that they’ve had. The reality is that some of the players on the current roster, notably pitchers, are in a fight to keep their jobs, so having a goal like this in mind will serve them well.

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Next week’s Courant will be the edition right before the start of the college football season, so that’s when I’ll start making my weekly round of SEC football predications.

Also, while I’m on the subject of college football, I want to remind readers that time is running out for you to sign up for our annual ESPN College Football Pick ‘Em Contest. It’s a lot of fun each year, and if you’re interested in signing up, check out the full story about the contest elsewhere on this week’s sports page.

As of Monday, about 20 people had signed up, but we’re hoping for many more. The more people that sign up, the more fun it will be for fans who like to follow a wide variety of games each week throughout the season.

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