Tag: Valdosta

The First Sundays of August

first sundayWhen I was growing up as the son of a preacher man, the first Sunday of August marked the beginning of a new church year in our denomination.  Over the course of 18 years at home, seven of those first Sundays in August were the first Sunday in a new church.  Let me tell you that those first Sundays in a new church were scary.  I never liked them.  The preacher’s family is always in a fish bowl but never as much as that first Sunday when everyone is checking out the new preacher and his family.  It was never a fun experience for me and perhaps one reason I am quite reserved in the beginning when I meet new people or I am in a new situation.

Kids are cruel and I have experienced that first hand in the church and before any first day in a new school.  In many of these first Sundays I heard their unfiltered comments.  “He’s ugly” or “He looks nerdy” were the ones that pierced my feelings the most.  Yes, it was a cruel initiation at a new church.  Unfortunately, if the parents didn’t like my dad being the pastor, the kids took it out on me.  I was just part of the collateral damage to their dislike for him.  It wasn’t always like this but I would say it happened more than not.

My dad pastored churches in Georgia.  The worst memory of all was a small community in South Georgia named Axson.  It wasn’t even a city but it has lasting injuries on my memories.  My dad replaced a long-time pastor who was related to many of the members so that first Sunday was filled with people checking us out.  This little community church had a lot of folks who were involved in tobacco farming which was a bit interesting since our church taught that smoking was a sin.  Not sure how they worked all that out in their salvation but they were a tough bunch.  The first Sunday I heard the kids’ cruel comments and their snickers as I would pass by.  No one wanted to befriend me or even attempt to talk to me.  I was an outsider and they were intent on keeping it that way.  They made my life hell especially on the school bus where they would sit in the back of the bus and flip me off.  I would have complained to the bus driver – and he did witness it – but he was related to them too.  Yeah, some things you can’t forget – even 40 years or so later.  Our time at this church didn’t last long as it became just too much to overcome the adversity.

So the first Sundays at a new church weren’t always a great experience and unfortunately the bad experiences burn into our memory more than the good ones but there were some good experiences.  I remember two.  The first Sundays in Villa Rica and Savannah were the best ones I have memories of.  Both churches had teens that actually talked to me the first Sunday and included me as a part of their group.  When I say teens I’m not talking about a huge megachurch.  Back in those days and in the church I was a part of, a “big” church would be a congregation of 50 or more.  Most were not.  After the Axson experience, the young people at Villa Rica was the next “first Sunday” at a new church and was a total opposite of the bad I had gone through in that nasty little family church.  (No love lost there)  The young people at Villa Rica made me feel at home from the first Sunday.  I still remember the Smiths and the Horsleys and how they were some of the coolest people I ever met.  The first Sunday in Savannah was also very welcoming as well.  I also loved the city.  It was my last “first Sunday” I was experience at a new church.

The other churches were Valdosta, Moultrie, Temple and Homeland.  You’d probably need to Google it to find Temple and Homeland.  I was too young to really remember the first churches in Valdosta and Moultrie.

I have to tell the story about Temple.  The church was actually called “Oak Hill” and was probably the smallest church my dad ever pastored.  It was on a hill somewhere near Temple, Georgia but there wasn’t a tree on the entire property and most definitely absent of any oak trees.  I don’t think I ever heard why it was ever called “Oak Hill”.  My dad was appointed to this church after leaving a one-year stay in Moultrie, Georgia.  We left a church that had a parsonage (a house for the pastor and family) to Oak Hill which did not have a residence for the pastor.  My parents were unable to find a place to live in the short time to relocate there.  With time running out, we decided to temporarily move into the Sunday School rooms in back of the church.  It wasn’t a huge issue since the church was so small that they were using the Sunday School rooms anyway.  The issue for us was that the church did not have “modern” bathrooms.  The only facilities were two outhouses on the property.  Yep, outhouses – like Little House on the Prairie days.  We used them too and at my age I saw it as an adventure but my parents weren’t so enthused about it.  We each took baths in my small kiddie swimming pool.  I can’t remember exactly how we did that but it was quite an interesting temporary situation.  Eventually we were blessed with an opportunity to buy a mobile home and set it up on the property.  If memory serves me correctly, our pioneer days experience lasted for about three months.

As far as my first Sunday at Oak Hill….there’s not much to say about it since the church had no kids or teens at all.  I was the youngest one there so there wasn’t any peer pressure to deal with.  In the year at that church, my mother was my Sunday School teacher and there were some Sundays that we were the only ones my dad had in attendance for his sermon.  Yes, it was small.

Those seven first Sundays formed me.  Not just that one day but in the other Sundays that followed.  It wasn’t a charmed life.  Learning the new people.  Knowing who you could trust and who were a bad influence.  It probably had a lot to do with my introverted ways.  I wouldn’t always open up too much too soon until I got to know people.  Many times people would comment about how quiet I was.  I was quiet but I learned to observe people first and I still do that even today.

These first Sundays in August prepared me for the other firsts such as the first days on a new job.  In reflection those church Sundays might have prepared me for dealing with the new situations as an adult.  I have learned that the person who tells you office gossip on the first day is always the person who is the problem in the office.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to name those people here.  I can tell you I learned that perception in the first Sundays in church and it has been true every time.  I can also tell you that nobody in your new place cares about what successes you have had in other places, you always have to proof yourself with the new people.

Today is the first Sunday of August but I’m glad that I’m not in a new church this morning.

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Georgia High School Football Review: State Champions Crowned

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The last Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state championship games were played in the Georgia Dome over the weekend.  Two teams repeated as state champions (Cartersville and Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy) and two teams (Rome and Cedar Grove) won their first title in school history.

Here is a recap of what happened:

Class 7A – Grayson 23, Roswell 20 (ot)

Roswell led until 1:04 left  when Grayson quarterback Chase Brice connected with Jaquavius Lane for a 35-yard touchdown pass.  They made a two-point conversion to take a 20-13 lead.  Roswell drove down the field and with five seconds left, Malik Willis hit Kentrell Barber on a 20-yard pass and the extra point sent the game into overtime.  On Grayson’s first possession of the overtime, they scored on a 25-yard field goal by Will VanPamelen.  Roswell was unable to answer the Grayson score as they missed on a field goal attempt giving Grayson the first Class 7A title and their second overall.

Class 6A -Valdosta 17, Tucker 7

It was back-to-the-future as the Valdosta Wildcats finally won their first state title since 1998 as the Wildcats built a 17-0 lead at halftime and held on to beat Tucker.  The Wildcats’ defense frustrated Tucker’s comeback attempt.  After Tucker scored with 2:30 left in the third quarter, the Tigers could not get in the end zone the rest of the way.  The win for Valdosta is their 25th title in school history.

Class 5A – Rome 16, Buford 7

In the “battle of wolves” as we heard all game long from the announcers, Rome overcame an early 7-0 deficit just minutes into the game when Buford’s Anthony Grant returned the opening kickoff 95 yards which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by T.D. Roof.  After that score, the Rome defense took over to hold Buford scoreless the rest of the game.  Knox Kadum scored on a 28-yard run in the third quarter to give Rome their first lead in the game.  The win give Rome their first state title in school history.

Class 4A -Cartersville 58, Thomson 7

Carterville’s Trey Creamer scored to first quarter touchdowns along with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to open the second quarter as the Purple Hurricanes cruised to a convincing win.   Cartersville repeated as state champions and back-to-back 15-0 seasons.

Class 3A – Cedar Grove 30, Greater Atlanta Christian 19

The tone for this game was set early when Greater Atlanta Christian quarterback Davis Mills was taken out from a forearm of a Cedar Grove defender on the first drive of the game.  Surprisingly there was no penalty or ejection for the hit.  Mills never returned.  Cedar Grove took a 23-3 lead before the end of the half but GAC stormed back in the fourth to close the lead to 23-19 on a 32-yard field goal by Sean Henderson.  Cedar Grove delivered the final blow scored on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jelani Woods to Dennis Bell with 2:16 left for their first state title.

Class 2A – Benedictine 49, Fitzgerald 26

Fitzgerald scored first on a 36-yard touchdown run by J.D. King to take the early lead but Benedictine scored the next 35 points to take a 35-6 lead in the second quarter.  The Purple Hurricanes mounted a comeback in the third quarter as they closed the gap to 35-26, but the Cadets answered with a 7-yard run by Tyleek Collins then the defense closed it out with a 43-yard interception return for a score with 1:36 left.

Class 1A (Public) – Macon County 35, McIntosh County Academy 0

Macon County outgained McIntosh County Academy 346-159 in total yardage and forced four fumbles in the game.  A 21-point fourth quarter put the game away as Macon County quarterback K’Hari Lane had four touchdown passes in the game which broke Huston Mason’s record of 54 touchdown passes in a season.

Class 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 34, Fellowship Christian 24 (ot)

Josh Mays scored on a 1-yard run to give ELCA the lead in overtime.  On fourth down, Fellowship Christian’s Jack Hardin was forced out of the pocket and unable to complete the pass which gave the Chargers their second consecutive state title.  Fellowship Christian had taken the lead when Merrick Haigler scored with 2:08 left but the Chargers drove down the field and set up Alex Usry with a 34-yard field goal with six second left to send the game into overtime.

 

 

Georgia High School Football Review: Second Round

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In the first round Lowndes defeated Hillgrove 92-61 so going into the second round, you had to wonder how the Vikings would respond to Norcross.   I expected a close, defensive battle but Lowndes didn’t miss a beat as they won 57-21.  They will play Westlake this week in the quarterfinals.  It will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

The Colquitt County Packers lit up the scoreboard in their second round game as they took out Brookwood 66-35.   Colquitt County quarterback Jay Saunders threw five touchdowns and 374 yards along with 74 yards rushing.  The Packers scored on all eight possessions of the first half.  Colquitt County will play #1 ranked Grayson in the quarterfinals.  The Packers are 2-1 against Grayson, winning 21-6 in their last meeting in 2013.

Valdosta 35, Northgate 0 – The Wildcats outgained Northgate 315-190 in total yardage and overcame some of their own mistakes to advance to the quarterfinals against Stephenson.  In their only previous meeting, the Wildcats defeated Stephenson 31-28 in the 2001 quarterfinals.  Valdosta is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.

Mays 35, Lee County 22 – Mays rallied from a 22-8 deficit at halftime.  The Raiders shut out Lee County in the second half then sealed the win when Ferlando Jordan intercepted a pass and went 48 yards with 1:17 left to play.  Mays will play Tucker in the quarterfinals.  Tucker is 6-2 against Mays.  Tucker has won the last five times.   This is their first meeting in the playoffs.

Glynn Academy 47, Allatoona 7 – In a rematch of the 2015 Class 6A state title game, the Red Terrors got their revenge in a big way as quarterback DeeJay Dallas rushed 14 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns.  He also connected on touchdown passes of 44 and 58 yards.   Glynn Academy will host Northside Warner Robins this week.  Northside is 2-0 against Glynn Academy.  They won 31-7 in the 2014 quarterfinals.

Carrollton 41, Thomas County Central 14 – The Trojan defense shut down the Yellow Jackets as they built a 27-0 lead in the second quarter and cruised to an easy win.  Carrollton quarterback DeOndre Sullivan had 110 yards passing and 58 yards rushing in the game.   Carrollton will play at Buford in the quarterfinals.   It will be their first meeting.

Blessed Trinity 21, Carver-Columbus 17 – The Titans held on as Carver overcame a 24-7 deficit then forced the Tigers to turn over the ball on downs with under two minutes to play.  Blessed Trinity moves on to face Mary Persons this week.  It will be their first meeting.

Crisp County 30, Lovett 29 – Crisp County quarterback connected with Quay Walker on a 25-yard pass with 37 seconds left to knock off Lovett.  The Cougars will host Pierce County in the quarterfinals.   Crisp County is in the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2001.

Tattnall 13, Stratford 7 – In a battle of city rivals, Ahmad Barron scored on a 22-yard run early in the third quarter as the Tattnall defense kept Stratford off the scoreboard in the second half to advance. Tattnall will play in Savannah at Calvary Day next.   Tattnall is 2-1 all-time against Calvary Day.  They lost 20-19 in their last meeting in 1987.

 

Georgia High School Football Review

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Teams that were left for dead are suddenly knocking on the door for the 2016 GHSA postseason.  In this trick-or-treat edition we find the Houston County Bears who were ranked #1 in Class 6A a few weeks ago, lost back-to-back games to Lee County and Coffee.  They were left for dead but after their 45-35 win over Northside-Warner Robins this week, they need a win against Valdosta this week in the season finale.  Jake Fromm was 28-of-43 for 530 yards and five touchdowns.

Two-time defending Class 7A champions Colquitt County started the season losing their first four games have now returned from the football dead and have won six straight as they defeated Lowndes 42-35 over Lowndes to win the region title.  They now have a week off before the state playoffs begin.  They will be a number one seed in the first round.

Valdosta, who has been dead for several years, beat Coffee 15-10 to clinch their first region title since 2011.  The Wildcats are still the top team in Class 6A.

Jenkins ended a 50-year zombie existence as they claimed their first region championship since 1966 with a 55-28 win over Windsor Forest.   It was also the first region title for a Savannah-Chatham County public school team since Savannah High in 1993.

Clinch County won the battle of swamp as they defeated Charlton County 38-10.  They also exorcised some demons with their first win at Charlton County since 1993.

Grayson beat Alabama’s #1-ranked Hoover, 36-14.  Georgia teams are 3-2 since 2008 against Hoover, which has won nine state titles since 2000.  It appears that the Rams are peaking at the right time and with Coach Jeff Herron creating a monster of a team.  Look out for the Rams when the postseason starts.

In my Ripley’s Believe it or not moment, Ware County beat Wayne County 27-3 and is ranked #6 in Class 5A but with a 5-3 record I’m not sure why they are even in the Top Ten.

Teams that have clinched region titles:

  • 7A-1:  Colquitt County
  • 7A-2: Westlake
  • 7A-6: Mill Creek
  • 7A-7: Norcross
  • 6A-1: Valdosta
  • 6A-2: Glynn Academy
  • 6A-8: Dacula
  • 5A-4: Stockbridge
  • 5A-6: Grady
  • 5A-8: Buford
  • 4A-1: Cairo
  • 4A-2: Mary Persons
  • 4A-3: Thomson
  • 4A-4: Woodward Academy
  • 3A-3: Jenkins
  • 3A-5: Westminster
  • 3A-8: Morgan County
  • 2A-2: Benedictine
  • 2A-3: Washington
  • 2A-5: Callaway
  • 2A-8: Rabun County
  • 1A-2: Clinch County
  • 1A-3: Emanuel County Institute

Top Ranked Teams:

  • Class 7A: Roswell (9-0) beat Woodstock 59-7.  Next:  Cherokee (6-3)  Roswell beat Cherokee 42-21 last season.
  • Class 6A: Valdosta (8-1) beat Coffee 15-10.  Next: at Houston County (7-2) Valdosta is 7-1 all-time against Houston County.
  • Class 5A: Buford (8-1) beat Loganville 35-10.  Next: Flowery Branch (3-6)   This will be their first meeting.
  • Class 4A:  Cartersville (9-0) Bye.  Next:  Troup (8-1)  Cartersville is 2-0 all-time against Troup.  They last played in 1989.
  • Class 3A:  Greater Atlanta Christian (8-1) Bye.  Next:  at Dawson County (7-1)  GAC has won five straight against Dawson County.
  • Class 2A: Benedictine (9-0) beat Metter 50-0.  Next:  at Jeff Davis (2-6)  Benedictine is 6-0 all-time against Jeff Davis.  Jeff Davis has been outscored 252-7.
  • Class 1A (Public): Clinch County (8-1) beat Charlton County 38-10.  Next:  Telfair County (5-3)  Clinch County is 9-0 all-time against Telfair County.
  • Class 1A (Private): Eagle’s Landing Christian (9-0) beat Mt. Vernon Presbyterian 49-7.  Next:  at Landmark Christian (9-0).  ELCA has won the last four meetings in the series.

 

Georgia High School Football Review: Week 9

Remember the scene in the movie “Jurassic Park” when you could hear the T-Rex coming and the water was vibrating on the dash?  

That sound you hear in Georgia High School football is the Colquitt County Packers.

After starting the season 0-4, the Packers have won four straight after winning their region opener in total domination of Camden County 56-10.  If they win their next two games against Tift County and Lowndes, they will be the top seed in their region.

Lee County spent one week at #1 in Class 6A but Northside-Warner Robins handed the Trojans their first loss, 26-7.  For the third week in a row, there is a new #1 team in the classification.  Valdosta claims the top spot this week for the first time since September 1999.   


Previous #1 Houston County lost their second straight 42-35 to Coffee County in spite of 325 yards passing from Jake Fromm.  The Bears could not stop Coffee’s Demetrius Davis who rushed for 224 yards and scored five touchdowns.

In what was supposed to be a huge region battle in Ashburn, the Clinch County Panthers had 348 yards rushing and the defense sacked Turner County quarterbacks seven times as they completely dismantled Turner County 66-20.  

Some other interesting scores from this past weekend:

  • Southwest Macon 48, Dublin 28 – The Patriots beat Dublin for the first time in team history.  Southwest is now 4-3 and a surprise team in their region.
  • Islands 13, Beach 7 – Islands improved to 2-4 with their first win over Beach.  They have already exceeded their win total from last season.  
  • Veterans 33, Thomas County Central 28 – The Yellow Jackets were derailed by the Warhawks who were 19-point underdogs in the game.  
  • Cedar Grove 49, Pace Academy 0 – Georgia High School Football Daily ranks this as the biggest upset of the weekend as Pace Academy were the defending state champions.  It is the first time that Pace Academy has been shut out since 2012 when they lost 55-0 to Eagle’s Landing Christian.

Top Teams:

  • Class 7A – Roswell (7-0) beat Walton 55-10.  Next:  at Etowah (4-3)
  • Class 6A – Valdosta (6-1) was off.  Next:  at Lee County (6-1)
  • Class 5A – Buford (6-1) beat Cedar Shoals 56-14.  Next:  at Walnut Grove (3-4)
  • Class 4A – Cartersville (8-0) beat Sandy Creek 35-21.  Next:  at Chapel Hill (3-3-1)
  • Class 3A – Greater Atlanta Christian (7-1) beat Lumpkin County 49-21.  Next:  at North Hall (5-3)
  • Class 2A – Benedictine (7-0) beat Toombs County 42-13.  Next:  at Bacon County (1-5)
  • Class 1A (Public) – Clinch County (6-1) beat Turner County 66-20.  Next:  vs. Lanier County (1-6)
  • Class 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian (7-0) was off.  Next:  at Strong Rock Christian (3-4)

National Top Ten Teams:

  1. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
  2. IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
  3. Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, CA)
  4. Allen (Allen, TX)
  5. McGill-Toolen Catholic (Mobile, AL)
  6. Dematha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD)
  7. Desoto (Desoto, TX)
  8. St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
  9. Roswell (Roswell, GA)
  10. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA)

Georgia High School Football Review: Week 8


Hurricane Matthew disrupted the schedule for many of the schools located in the Southeastern part of Georgia but a majority of the games went on as scheduled.  

Houston County teams in Warner Robins might be feeling that a hurricane ripped through their games as four of the five county teams lost this weekend.  In the much anticipated showdown between #1 Houston County and #3 Lee County the Trojans blew past Jake Fromm and the Bears 55-29.  Lee County intercepted Fromm four times.  Northside-Warner Robins was stonewalled by Valdosta 14-6 in a defensive battle.  The Wildcats recovered a muffed punt in the end zone and put together a 79-yard drive in the second quarter.  They Eagles never got on track on offense.  Warner Robins lost at home to Thomas County Central 33-22 and Veterans lost to Bainbridge 31-6.

This was the first time since 2008 that Warner Robins, Northside and Houston County all lost in the same weekend. In 2008 Warner Robins lost to Coffee, 37-20; Tift County beat Houston County 31-24 and Lowndes topped Northside 24-7. It was the first time since Veterans started playing in 2010 that all four teams have lost in the same weekend. 

Carrollton defeated Villa Rica 42-13 in what has been a rivalry game – at least for Villa Rica – but the Trojans have dominated the series 5-42-7 and has won the last eight meetings between the county foes.  It was their first meeting since 2007.  Villa Rica’s last win against Carrollton was in 1998.

Here’s this week’s top-ranked teams:

  • 7A – Roswell (6-0) beat Lassister 45-14.  Next week:  at Walton (3-3)
  • 6A – Lee County (6-0) beat Houston County 55-29.  Next week:  at Northside Warner Robins (6-1)
  • 5A – Buford (5-1) beat Johnson-Gainesville 48-0.  Next week:  at Cedar Shoals (3-3)
  • 4A – Cartersville (7-0) beat LaGrange 52-7.  Next week:  at Sandy Creek (4-2)
  • 3A – Greater Atlanta Christian (6-1) beat East Hall 69-12.  Next week:  Lumpkin County (2-3)
  • 2A – Benedictine (6-0) was off.  Next week:  Toombs County (5-1)
  • 1A (Public) – Clinch County (5-1) was off.  Next week:  at Turner County (4-2)
  • 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian (7-0) beat Our Lady of Mercy 49-0.  Next week:  at Strong Rock Christian (3-4)