He Was THE Voice of Georgia HS Football

There are some things that enhance a fan’s experience with sports. Perhaps the lasting impression for most of us are the voices of the people who report about the game. They are the voices of the game.

For me, I will never forget the voice of Brent Musburger in the 1976 NBA finals when the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns battled through three overtimes in Game 5 where the Celtics prevailed 128-126.

The voice of Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. Who could forget him?

And without a doubt, the voice of Al Michaels in the 1980 Team USA win over the USSR on the miracle on ice in the Winter Olympics with his “do you believe in miracles?”

I also have the memories of UGA football games with the legendary Larry Munson. His voice was the identity of Georgia Bulldogs football.

Last week we lost the man I called THE voice of Georgia High School football.

Tommy Palmer was that voice. Anyone who knows anything about Georgia High School football knows his name. His voice was a constant part of my experience every Friday night in the fall. Whether I was driving home after a game or listening at home, I would tune into his scoreboard show. His slow Southern drawl and moments of humor made it more than just reading the scores from the games. He also recorded podcasts each week for the Top Ten Teams and Top Games. Tommy also provided commentary for the state championship games.

I don’t remember when I actually started listening to Tommy but he was a part of my Friday night routine and a voice I will never forget.

Palmer revealed in May that he had been battling cancer since Aug. 17 and would enter hospice care after being given the diagnosis the his cancer was terminal. I had heard he was ill but I did not know it was that serious.

Palmer grew up in Claxton and worked in radio for 60 years, starting at age 16. He began work in TV in 1981. He began producing and hosting the Scoreboard Show in 2005. It reached a network of more than 50 stations in the state and took callers after the games who shared details of games they attended. Palmer also would interview coaches.

I never met Tommy Palmer but I have shared some emails and Facebook posts with him. I also shared a copy of my book “Passing Toward The Prize” with him. I also read his own book “The Daisy Boys Club” which is a great read about his life growing up in Daisy, Georgia.

The 2020 season won’t be the same for me without Tommy Palmer.

Resources for Georgia High School Football fans

GHSFIf you’re like me and you are a fan of Georgia High School Football, you will need to arm yourself with the necessary tools to obtain information throughout the season.  I remember the days when my ONLY source of high school football news was the local newspaper or the radio.  Today there are many resources out there you can access to keep your updated on your favorite team – even if you live in another state like me.

Let me start off by saying that I was disappointed that there was no quality preview magazine this year.  In past seasons, we had Friday Night Football publishing the previews but this year they decided not to publish.  There is another preview magazine that has apparently been around for many years but I wouldn’t recommend it.  In fact, their magazine is still yet to come out and we are already into week 2 of the season.  Even without the preview magazines, there are plenty of places you can get information.

Subscribe to Georgia High School Football Daily. This is a free e-mail newsletter produced by Todd Holcomb and Chip Saye. Holcomb is a former lead high school football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and co-founder and primary researcher behind the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. Saye is a 25-year veteran of the newspaper industry who has covered high school sports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Athens Banner-Herald, Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail and Gwinnett Daily News.   The newsletter features region standings, schedules, interviews, stats and just about everything you need to know.  Click here to subscribe.

If you want historical stats and records or anything about Georgia High School Football, you need to bookmark the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website.  It is simply amazing.  I could get lost on this website for hours looking up past results and historical information.  These guys have done a fantastic job.

As the scores come rolling in on Friday nights, one of my go-to places is Scoreatl.com which will keep you updated on scores.  They also have game stories and other features you will want to read.  They also have an app for your phone called GA HS Scores so you can keep track of scores while you are out.

If you want to watch the game-of-the-week, Georgia Public Broadcasting will show these on their website or on their GPB Sports app.   They also have a scoreboard and feature stories that you might enjoy watching.  They also do a great job with broadcasting the state championship games.

If you live in the Middle Georgia area and want to keep up with the teams there, you can watch the highlight clips from Football Friday Night on Saturday morning at 13WMAZ.com.  Watching Football Friday Night used to be my routine when I lived there.

I also still follow Warner Robins’ teams and the best app to do that is the SportsMic app.  They broadcast the games of Houston County teams as well as feature stories.  Since moving away from there I will listen to Warner Robins’ games through this app.

Another good source of information is the Palmer Media Group.  Tommy Palmer, who I call THE voice of Georgia High School Football, does the Georgia High School Football Scoreboard Show from 10pm-12midnight on Friday Nights.   He also does podcasts of “This Week’s Top Games” and “This Week’s Top 10 Teams”.   He also host “Countdown to Kickoff”.

Sometimes I will peak at the national rankings of high school teams.  The best source I have used is the USA Today Super 25.

I have also found that you can go to the websites or Roku channels for local television stations in Atlanta, Savannah, Albany, Columbus, Augusta and others to get more coverage.

It’s a lot different today than it was back in my days in high school.  When I moved from Villa Rica High School to Tompkins High School in Savannah, Georgia after my sophomore year, the only way I could keep track of Villa Rica football results was to go to the school library and get the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.  We’ve come a long way.

 

 

 

Georgia High School Football Kickoff Weekend

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Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County kick off new season

It’s is hard to believe that the 2018 Georgia High School Football season kicks off this weekend.  I’m not sure I have fully recovered from last year’s Class 5A championship game but I have to shake it off and turn the page to a new season.  For the past two seasons I have had a weekly feature on Georgia High School football.  I’m going to do it a little differently this year but I’m defintely going to be tuned in to high school football games on Friday nights again this fall; however, I will have a few weeks that I will miss here in the early part of the season due to personal reasons.

With each season there are three teams I always follow.  They are Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County.  Why these three teams?

I’ll start with the first one in my personal timeline – Clinch County.  My father used to play football for the Panthers.  The first football game he took me too was a Clinch County game and that’s something special to me.  Homerville is that typical small, rural Georgia town where they close down the town on Friday Nights to go to the football games.  It is a great atmosphere.  When I started high school, I attended Villa Rica High School where I attempted to play on the football team.  (There may be a blog about this later)   Then, years later, I ended up in Warner Robins and from 1984 – 2010 I spent many Friday nights in the fall at International City (now McConnell-Talbert) Stadium in Warner Robins.  I adopted Warner Robins as my team and I still follow them today.

So, here’s a little preview of the three teams I follow:

Warner Robins Demons

The Demons’ were my surprise team last season as they rebounded from a 3-8 season in 2016 to 14-1 and an appearance in the Class 5A State Championship game.  Warner Robins returns experienced quarterback Dylan Fromm (Yes, his older brother is Jake).  Dylan made his own mark on the high school field last season with a school record 3,505 yards and 35 touchdowns.  His favorite target is his brother – Tyler Fromm – who had 43 receptions for 529 yards and five touchdowns.  The only question mark for the Demons is how they will replace seven starters on defense.  The schedule is going to be interesting as well.  The Demons open tonight against Tift County as well as Colquitt County on September 14.  My gut tells me that the Demons might go 7-3 this season.

Villa Rica Wildcats

The Wildcats finished 5-5 last season and if not for two Paulding County schools (East Paulding and Paulding County), they would have made the playoffs.  In fact, the Wildcats started 4-1 but the second half was brutal with losses to Carrollton, Kell and Rome.  Villa Rica opens the season tonight at Campbell and they still have Carrollton, Rome and Kell to contend with.  Friday Night Football magazine lists Villa Rica as a team on the rise in Class 5A.  I’d like to agree with that but this is a tough region.  I’m thinking a 6-4 record for the ‘cats in 2018.

Clinch County Panthers

The Panthers are looking to repeat as Class A Public school champions this season and they have a pretty good shot at it with All-State Trezmen Marshall in his senior season.  Marshall is the first Clinch County player to be named Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Preseason Super 11.  The Georgia commit can do it all – kickoff specialist, inside linebacker, nose guard, punter, quarterback and tailback.  The Panthers finished second in the region but defeated region champion Irwin County for the state title last season.  The Panthers open at home tonight against Hebron Christian Academy before a challenging three weeks with games against Brooks County, Dooly County and Irwin County but playing these heavyweights at home will help.  I’m expecting the Panthers to roll to a 10-0 record.

As we embark on another high school football season, let me share with you some of my resources I use throughout the season:

  • Georgia High School Football Historians Assocation
    • This is absolutely the best-ever resource for team records, histories and statistical information
  • Georgia High School Football Daily
    • This has been an amazing resource of information.  It is produced and owned by Todd Holcomb and Chip Saye.  I’m not sure what’s going on with it this year as it hasn’t been updated since August 1st.
  • Score Atlanta
    • Another good source of information and stories as well as game reports.  I am usually constantly checking the High School Scoreboard on Friday nights.
  • Tommy Palmer Media Group
    • Tommy Palmer is a legend and I consider him THE expert in Georgia High School football.  He does the Georgia High School Scoreboard Radio Show starting around 10 pm on Friday nights.  Palmer also does a couple of other podcasts such as “This Week’s Top Ten” and “This Week’s Top Games”.
  • GPB Football App
    • Georgia Public Broadcasting has improved this app over the years and it is a good place to go.
  • Sportsmic App
    • This is another app on my iPhone and one I use to listen to Warner Robins broadcasts.

So here are my preseason picks to win state titles in 2018:

  • Class 7A:  McEachern
  • Class 6A: Tucker
  • Class 5A:  Rome
  • Class 4A:  Cairo
  • Class 3A: Peach County
  • Class 2A: Thomasville
  • Class 1A (Private): Eagle’s Landing Christian
  • Class 1A (Public):  Clinch County

Friday Flashback: Tuning Into High School Football Games

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Last Friday night I had to laugh at myself.  I had retreated to another room to listen to a high school football game on my iPhone app.  In addition to that, I also pulled up video streaming of another game on my computer as well as frequently checking the scores on my iPAD.  I glanced in the corner to see my radio sitting there in silence.  I remembered that the radio was my only source of coverage before all of this technology came into existence.

What’s even more amazing is that I’m listening to Georgia high school football games while sitting in my room in Nashville, Tennessee.   This wasn’t something I could have done 10 years ago.  The technology just hadn’t gotten to where it is today.

I thought back to a game I tuned into on my old transistor radio in 1979 in my room of our mobile home in Villa Rica, Georgia.  It was the Class 7AA region semifinal playoff game between Villa Rica and East Rome.  The weather outside was nasty which was one reason I wasn’t at them game and the fact it was being played at Barron Stadium in Rome, Georgia.  My bedroom was located at the rear of the mobile home and I carefully placed my radio and tilted the antenna so I could pick up the coverage of the game.  At times the signal was strong but it would waver.  I had to intently listen next to the radio.  Yes, this was before wifi and Bluetooth headphones.  Villa Rica kicked a field goal in the game and held on to defeat the two-time defending Class AA state champions 3-0.

Through the years I have huddled next to the best radio and reception I could find for games I could not attend in person.  I remember many times listening in the car parked in the driveway because that was the best reception I could get.

Unlike today, I couldn’t get scores from other games.  I remember waiting impatiently on Saturday mornings to go to the nearest newspaper machines and buying the Saturday paper so I can see the scores.  Sometimes I could only see the scores listed in the header of the front page through the machine.  If I wanted more details I would have to go to the library to find a copy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Yes, the media report wasn’t like it is today.

Today I can stream almost any game that a school is doing.  There are so many options now.  If I want to know how Villa Rica is doing now, I can go to the local newspaper’s website.  If I want to check on how my cousins alma mater in Columbia County, Florida is doing, I can search for information on Google.  If I want to know if my dad is celebrating a win with his Clinch County Panthers, I can subscribe to a Twitter feed on my iPhone.  It’s a lot different time than it used to be.

Years ago, I discovered the Georgia High School Football Scoreboard show and now I catch it most every Friday night and listen to who I call THE voice of Georgia High School Football, Tommy Palmer.  Although I live in Tennessee now, his South Georgia voice brings me back home.

When they play the state championship games in Atlanta they will now be in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.  In the past when they started in the Georgia Dome, all the games started being broadcast on Georgia Public Television.  One year I bought a handheld TV and took it to my work and watched/listened to the games while working.  Now the games are streamed live.

When I lived in Warner Robins, Georgia, I would watch Football Friday Night on WMAZ Channel 13 on Friday Nights after the late news.  I rarely missed a show.  While I can’t catch the live broadcast now, I can still watch the highlights on the station’s app on my Roku device.

Having lived in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, I will scan the various news apps and check up on local high school highlights on Saturday mornings.  Although I’m not much into Tennessee High School Football games as I am with Georgia, I still check the highlights to see how the local teams are doing.  Crazy, maybe.  It’s just my thing.  I grew up as Georgia High School football games being my only entertainment outlet in a strict religious environment.  At least at the time, high school football games were one of the few enjoyments that wasn’t a sin.

So as I think ahead to tonight’s games, I know my first team has the week off after a thrilling 38-35 win last week so I’ll have a rare week where I will stream another team into my “listening” room.

It’s still funny to me that with all the devices I use to listen to high school football games, the radio is the only one silent on Friday nights.   Perhaps I will go old school tonight and see what I find on the radio.