GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - There were still workers adjusting the lights at South Gwinnett's new football stadium when the Comets practiced this week.
The new turf is still kicking up a bit of sand, but the Comets are ready to really break in their new home Friday night against the rival Black Knights of Central Gwinnett.
"We've got a new stadium, new field, just new beginnings more than anything so that obviously leads to excitement and anticipation of what's to come," said South coach Steve Davenport.
With 5,067 total votes, the Central Gwinnett at South Gwinnett matchup was chosen as HIGH 5's Game of the Week to kick off the season, and the Comets are embracing the hype.
"First game of the year and it's game of the week? For sure, me and my boys are ready to turn up," said senior outside linebacker Derrick Billins. "Everybody voted, showed their support, we're ready to go out and ball."
"It's exciting. Just like posting it on social media, hyping us, it's been giving me chills all week really," said senior quarterback Tre Truitt.
Truitt said he's ready to make a huge jump in his final year, after focusing more on the playbook this offseason and improving his throwing ability, rather than "just being an athlete," which he said is how he previously played the position.
South also returns its leading receiver, DeShaun Robinson, also a senior. Davenport said the kickoff of a new year is always exciting to see how seniors evolve into leaders as the season goes on.
"This is their first time to be the big dogs under the lights, so I'm sure they're all looking forward to having an opportunity to be the guys," he said.
Davenport said Central is a tough matchup on offense and defense, but a few Comets said the battle between CB Nate Roberts and four-star Central receiver Daejon Reynolds will be one to watch.
"They've got a tremendous offense," Davenport said. "They've got a collection of offensive kids that we've got to handle."
"It's going to be interesting to see if they can stop him," said Central coach Todd Wofford. "He's a freak."
Wofford said winning the turnover battle will be the Black Knights' biggest key Friday night.
"You learn early in the season that the biggest way to help yourself is control turnovers," he said. "So if we can take care of the football, that will be huge."
Central has gotten the best of the rivalry in its 58 games with a 35-22-1 record, but the Comets won last year's contest 14-7.
"Longest rivalry in Gwinnett history, so we're looking forward to it," Davenport said. "The last two years have been a really close game, and we expect the same this year."
Central feels the same way.
"Every first game is always exciting for senior guys and the young guys for their first time, so it's always juiced up," Wofford said. "But you throw in that it's South Gwinnett, it's the HIGH 5 Sports Game of the Week, and it's the oldest rivalry in Gwinnett. Our whole school and community is so excited. Everyone always tells me, ‘If you don't beat anyone else, you've got to beat South.'"