Alex Farrer

Calhoun Times Sports Editor Alex Farrer

Something bigger than a rivalry game

Rivalry matchups in sports are simply something that every player, coach and fan look forward to. That’s one game that everyone has circled on the schedule with a bigger emphasis placed on winning. But when rivals Calhoun and Sonoraville got together on the softball diamond on Wednesday, there was something even bigger than winning or losing.

The Lady Jackets and Lady Phoenix designated the game as a ‘Pink-Out’ in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. Each team wore special jerseys with pink somehow incorporated into their colors, and there was a pregame ceremony held to commemorate the special day. Breast Cancer survivors were honored, which included Calhoun head coach Diane Smith who successfully won her battle with the awful sickness within the last few years and Cheryl Henderson who has recently completed her treatment successfully after being diagnosed back in the Spring.

Henderson, a teacher and Calhoun Elementary and the wife of Calhoun High head baseball coach Chip Henderson, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to her daughter Carlie, a sophomore on the Lady Jackets’ roster, and players and coaches from both teams lined the outfield with pink and white balloons they later released into the air. The pink balloons were in honor of someone they knew that has battled breast cancer and the white balloons were in memory of someone they knew that had lost their fight.

After that pregame ceremony which made it a little dusty in the park if you know what I mean, an incredible game was played between the two teams. The results of the game, which can be found on page 2B of today’s Calhoun Times, were very important to each team, no doubt. But on Wednesday, you could say they were secondary. What took place before the game was what took center stage and rightfully so.

Weekend football picks

Another weekend of football has arrived, and it’s another schedule filled with competitive games, including some big conference matchups in college and the Falcons going on the road to try and improve upon their 2-0 record. Here are my picks for a few of the games:

Mississippi State at Georgia

This matchup of Bulldogs in Athens features two of the most impressive teams to this point in the SEC as Georgia and Mississippi State have looked good and now stand at 3-0. Each team has a solid win with Georgia defeating the Irish on the road and Mississippi State dismantling LSU last week.

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is an early-season Heisman candidate as he can hurt teams with his arm and legs. Georgia’s fast defense will have their biggest test of the year.

Georgia QB Jake Fromm will also likely feel a bit of added pressure as Jacob Eason seems to be close to returning to practice after his early-season knee injury. And Mississippi State’s defense is pretty stout as well with a few studs on the defensive line.

I think the Bulldogs in maroon are a little better of a team, but this game could go either way especially with Georgia in their own house.

Score: Mississippi State wins, 24-21.

Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech

The conference opener comes calling for Georgia Tech after an unexpected week off last Saturday thanks to a cancellation of the UCF game. The Jackets will be rested while Pitt comes into the game, coming off losses to two straight top-10 opponents in Penn State and Oklahoma State.

Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi has made Georgia Tech’s cut-blocking tactics a topic of conversation this week leading up to the game so you know Paul Johnson will be licking his chops to deploy his option scheme with plenty of cut blocks to go around.

Georgia Tech lost a game they really should’ve won last season up there in Pittsburgh so there will be a little extra motivation to open conference play in style. I think the Jackets do just that with another impressive offensive performance.

Score: Georgia Tech wins, 35-24.

Alabama at Vanderbilt

You read that right, I am picking the Alabama at Vanderbilt game. This isn’t your normal bottom of the SEC East Vanderbilt team. The Commodores are 3-0 and, in my opinion, should’ve been ranked in the top 25 after their win over No. 18 Kansas State last Saturday.

Alabama looked a little sluggish in their win over Colorado State last week, but Tide fans can’t expect perfection every game.

Both of these defenses are legit. Alabama has all the big, 5-star recruits and many players that will be in the NFL in a couple years, but Vanderbilt has a darn good defense too. Derek Mason’s bunch will get after you and make things difficult on opposing offenses.

This game will be a lot closer than people expect, but Alabama is the best program in the country for a reason, and their talent and depth will make the difference.

Score: Alabama wins, 27-19.

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

The Falcons and Lions are both 2-0 and two of the early favorites in the NFC. Both teams boast a franchise quarterback, and both teams have much-improved defenses.

Atlanta’s offensive line, which is likely going to be without starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder due to a concussion suffered last week against the Packers, has quite a task ahead of them with Detroit’s big, physical, steady defensive front lined up ahead of them. And the Falcons’ defense will be without Vic Beasley who is nursing a hamstring injury so Detroit’s Matt Stafford will have one less pass rusher to worry about.

I could see Atlanta tripping up in this game, but Matt Ryan has found a way to get his weapons the ball over the last year and a half in ways not many offenses can do it. He does the same this week and the Falcons roll on to a 3-0 record.

Score: Falcons win, 31-27.