Neutral-site football season openers have grown in popularity at the college level recently, and that trend is trickling down to high school as well.
Baldwin High and Washington County are getting in on some of that action to kick off their 2019 seasons as the two longtime foes are set to face off Saturday, Aug. 24 inside Mercer University’s Five Star Stadium in Macon. It’s all part of the Macon Touchdown Club’s fourth annual Middle Georgia Kickoff Classic, an event designed to showcase the football talent in this region of the state.
Presale tickets to the big season opener are available now for $10, which is a couple bucks cheaper than the $12 fans will have to pay if they choose to wait until game day. Those who buy early get the added benefit of helping out Baldwin High athletics.
“We want to encourage all of our fans and the community to get your tickets from the school and our booster club,” said Braves’ head coach Jesse Hicks. “That money stays right here with us.”
Advance tickets can be purchased in a variety of ways — at Baldwin High, from a member of the football booster club, or from the players themselves.
Last year’s meeting between the Braves and the Golden Hawks saw Washington County come into Milledgeville and earn a 19-7 season-opening victory over Baldwin. Coach Hicks’ team went on to lose its next four games before turning the season around by winning the last five and a Region 3-4A championship. Baldwin’s year would end on a rainy night at home against eventual state runner-up Cartersville in the quarterfinals. The Hawks finished the 2018 regular season at 8-2, and like the Braves they advanced all the way to the 2A quarterfinals where they lost to Callaway.
This year’s matchup between Baldwin and Washington will be the second of a doubleheader at the Kickoff Classic. The Westside Seminoles and Southwest Patriots are set to do battle that afternoon at 4 p.m. The Hawks and Braves will follow at 7:30.
“We’ll have the late game, so it won’t be as hot for our fans and our community,” said Hicks. “It’s an opportunity for our young men to go play on a big stage at one of the premier stadiums here in Middle Georgia. It also gives us an opportunity to see campus life — what it’s like to play in a big stadium and get ready in that type of locker room. Hopefully we can get everybody from the community to come out. We appreciate them allowing us to be one of the teams they are going to premiere at the start of the season.”