TIFTON — The Georgia High School Association has released football schedules for the upcoming 2019 season and for Tift County football fans, there are no surprises listed.
Tift County will play the same opponents as a year ago. The only departure is a change from the norm of five home games; they have six.
Miller Grove, Tift’s homecoming opponent last year, will be back at Brodie Field again Oct. 11. Head coach Ashley Anders announced when schedules were revealed in Spring 2018 that the Wolverines would be a return guest.
Other home games are Aug. 23 versus Warner Robins, Sept. 6 against Worth County, Oct. 4 versus Bainbridge, Oct. 18 versus Lowndes and Nov. 8 against Camden County. Lowndes and Camden are Region 1-AAAAAAA games and the latter will be Tift’s Senior Night.
Non-region road contests feature Valdosta on Aug. 30, Crisp County on Sept. 13 and Parkview on Sept. 20. The Devils will only visit Colquitt County on Oct. 25 during region play.
Tift’s schedule includes two 2018 state champions. Bainbridge, whom the Devils dropped to 2-4 with a 31-14 loss, fell only once more during the remainder of the season. They won the Class AAAAA title over Warner Robins, 47-41, in triple overtime. The other state champion Tift will face is Lee County, which will be in a scrimmage game.
Nine of the Blue Devils’ regular season opponents from last year advanced to the state tournament.
Bainbridge won a state title. Warner Robins and Colquitt were runners-up. Lowndes made the semifinals. Valdosta was a quarterfinalist and Parkview made it to the second round. Miller Grove, Camden and Crisp fell in the first round. Only Worth, which broke a string of 15 consecutive losses mid-campaign, did not see the postseason.
The Blue Devils finished 8-5 in 2018, advancing to the quarterfinals in back-to-back seasons for the first time since Tift County High School opened in 1962. They have a chance to extend that streak, as well as another big one when the season starts.
Anders’ squad defeated Valdosta in 2018, 24-10. That was the second straight win over the storied Wildcats, the first time Tift had done so since winning a regular season and region playoff game against them in 1979. They have never beaten Valdosta three consecutive times.
For the rest of Tift’s region opponents, Camden will play the same schools it did in 2019. There are changes in opposition for both Colquitt County and Lowndes.
Colquitt returns to the Corky Kell Classic and Mercedes-Benz Stadium for their opener Aug. 24. They will play North Gwinnett this time around after opening with McEachern in 2018. That game will be immediately followed by an open date. The Packers played Missouri-based Trinity Catholic last season, but are not going to be seeing them again. Colquitt found a replacement in similarly-named Florida school, Trinity Christian, but had to schedule it Oct. 11, which takes away the customary open week before region begins.
Lowndes has one change in non-region, changing from playing Tallahassee, Fla.’s Lincoln High in 2018 to Miami Northwestern in 2019.
Other teams in the Tift area saw their schedules unchanged from 2018 to 2019.
Fitzgerald, Turner County and Irwin County will all see the same opponents as a year ago. The order of play will be the same, with home and away reversed from last season’s schedule.
Irwin County was state runner-up in 2018 for the fourth time in five seasons. Fitzgerald advanced to the state semifinals. Turner fell in the first round to Miller County.