There are a few new faces.
There are some familiar faces.
And a former rivalry will be renewed.
The Calhoun High School football team schedule for 2022 has been released and while the start of the season is still over eight months away, the release of when and where the Yellow Jackets will play their next 10 regular season games is always anticipated.
Gone from the past two years’ schedule are Ridgeland, Woodstock, and Chattanooga McCallie, with the Blue Tornado one of the three teams that beat the 5A state runners-up last year.
But don’t think for a minute the black-and-Vegas-gold don’t have another powerful out-of-state opponent lined up as instead of playing someone from Tennessee, they will play someone from Alabama with a trip in Week Two to Gardendale High School to play the Rockets just outside of Birmingham.
The Yellow Jackets are still in 5A Region 7, but that league, while it still has only six teams, has had its look changed a couple of times during the recent reclassification process and is now finalized with basically Dalton coming in and Blessed Trinity, which is now 6A and still on the Calhoun non-region schedule, heading out.
Head coach Clay Stephenson’s team, which went 12-3 last year and reached the 5A state championship game against Warner Robins, is to play a 10-game schedule with five non-region games to start and then they play their five Region games in five weeks.
They will have two scheduled open dates with the first coming after they have completed their non-region schedule. And the second will come the week before the playoffs begin as once again, the Yellow Jackets will finish the regular season by the end of October. (The playoffs are scheduled to begin the second week of November).
The Swarm will kick off the 2022 regular season Friday, August 19, at Phil Reeve Stadium against the last team they played at the Reeve when former Region 7 foe Blessed Trinity comes to town for the second time in nine months.
The Yellow Jackets beat the Titans twice last year, including a 24-7 decision win over them in the 5A state semifinals before a packed house the first week of December. Blessed Trinity finished with nine wins last year and is already considered one of the favorites in their new 6A division.
One week later, on Friday, Aug. 26, they head west for an approximately three-hour trip to Gardendale, Alabama to take on the Rockets and while they aren’t a state champion like McCallie was, the team from Alabama was still pretty good last year, going 10-3 on the season and advancing to the third round of the state playoffs before suffering a 50-44 overtime loss to Clay-Chalksville.
Just like Calhoun, Gardendale won a couple of big road games to advance as far as they did in the playoffs before their season came to an end.
Then in Week Three, on Friday, Sept. 2, they are back on the road, this time going to Canton, Georgia to play Creekview. The Grizzlies were 8-3 last year and are the third straight team the locals will take on that made the playoffs in 2021.
Creekview, which is a 6A school, was third last year in Region 7, going 6-2 with both losses coming by a touchdown to Milton and John’s Creek. The Griz was eliminated in the first round of the 6A playoffs to Carrollton, losing, 47-28.
From there, the Jackets complete the non-region schedule with two games in Gordon County, but only one of those will be in Calhoun.
They return to the Reeve on Friday, Sept. 9, for a home date against Cedartown, which they belted 31-7 last year in a game that was played three weeks after it was originally scheduled due to Covid issues on the Bulldogs’ side.
They will then close out the non-region part of their schedule Friday, Sept. 16 against an old friend when they go to neighboring Sonoraville to play the Phoenix at The Furnace.
There were more than a few people surprised last year when the teams didn’t meet each other out of necessity because they both had their Week 3 games canceled due to Covid. The Jackets were supposed to play Cedartown, which had to suspend football operations for 10 days, while Sonoraville was to take on Chattooga. When it became apparent neither team had an opponent after those postponements/cancellations, it looked like they might schedule each other.
But that did not happen as Sonoraville was able to hook up with Fannin County, which they clobbered, while Calhoun got an open date earlier than expected before they did get to play Cedartown in a makeup game just before the start of Region.
The two teams — Calhoun and Sonoraville — used to be Region foes not so long ago when they were both 3A schools, but Calhoun was moved up to 5A just before the start of the 2020-21 school year while the Phoenix remained in the 3A ranks and they haven’t played each other since.
Now, under the recent release of the final classifications, Calhoun is still in the 5A division and the Phoenix were moved up to the 4A division so they will play each other this year before they start their respective league dockets.
That game will also start a stretch of three straight road match-ups for Calhoun as they have an open date following the Sonoraville game and then commence Region play with two straight road games before they close the year with three consecutive dates at the Reeve.
For the past two years, they have ended Region 7 play and the regular season against Cartersville but this year, the Jackets will open the league schedule against the defending Region 7 champions on Friday, Sept. 30 at Cartersville with the two heavy hitters facing each other right off the bat.
They will play their last road game of the regular season the following week on Friday, Oct. 7 with a trip to Hiram. Last year, the Jackets had their most points in any game in a 63-17 win over the Hornets.
From there, the Jackets play at home the last three Fridays in October and the first of that trio is set for Friday, Oct. 14 when the Jackets entertain Woodland. Calhoun went to Woodland last year and won by a 56-7 count in a game that featured a running clock for the entire second half.
Then the Jackets take on archrival Dalton Friday, Oct 21 in a game between two teams that have been playing each other for over half-a-decade. Last year, they met on the opening night of the high school season and Calhoun won a wild 42-35 decision and now they will square off for more than just bragging rights because there could be playoff implications when they meet this fall.
Calhoun will then finish the 2022 regular season Friday, Oct. 28 at home against Cass, which was the fourth-place team in the Region last year.
The Jackets beat the Colonels, 35-14, last year but Cass moved the ball on the football on Calhoun and three turnovers in the end zone proved to the difference in this game not being a high-scoring shootout.
All the kickoffs as of right now, are set for 7:30 p.m.