Tonight, the Friday night lights are back and will brighten up Columbia County for the first time this season. What better way to kick-off the new season than to have neighboring county rivals hit the field?
This new season brings a new system. The FHSAA has implemented a new point system to high school football, which means every game on the scheduled matters. For the higher class schools like, (7A) Columbia and (6A) Gainesville, winning districts automatically advances them onto states.
Both teams share the color purple, but each team will bring their own flavor to the field.
The Hurricanes have lost the last four meetings with the Tigers, lost seven of the last nine and have not won in Lake City since 2011. What’s different about tonight for Gainesville? The depth and experience listed on the roster.
Junior Quarterback Luke Matthews (5’10, 160lbs) will be under center as the starter for the second season. He’s been noted to have poise and take full charge of the huddle. The majority of the ‘Canes roster last season were Sophomores and the majority of them have all returned as seasoned Juniors.
Gainesville also has a package in the Cromwell brothers. Senior Safety Julien Cromwell and Junior Running Back Niles Cromwell both showcased the speed and run attack Gainesville has to offer from the backfield.
Gainesville will have their hands full upfront with Senior Defensive Lineman S.L. McCall (6’0 225lbs.) McCall had 10 sacks, 60 tackles, and 8 of those tackles were for a loss. The Tigers of Lake City are always tough to beat on their home field, but things could be a little different as they have a new quarterback under center. Defensively, Columbia is locked and loaded, however offensively there are some holes and questions.
Regardless, of last season’s outcomes and what speculations there are based on preseason games, tonight’s game should be a good game to start off the season. Both teams have something to prove. Kick-ff is set for 7:30 p.m.