COMMERCE, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - The last time East Jackson won High 5 Team of the Week honors they were in the midst of a magical season, finishing 10-2 before losing to Lovett in the second round of the playoffs in 2009. In the decade since, the Eagles have won only 17 games while cycling through six head coaches. But, it's the latest head man who's changing the culture at the North Georgia school which traditionally takes a back seat to more prominent football schools in Jackson County like Commerce and Jefferson.
Cameron Pettus is a Georgia boy, raised in Paulding County. After 19 years coaching in Illinois, he returned home to take over a struggling East Jackson program hungry to become relevant again. So far, East Jackson's two wins match the total victories of their previous two seasons combined.
"The joy that you get from those little milestones that you make as a coach- for me it's just phenomenal," Pettus said. "Just to see the smile on their faces after a victory, and just how they act, and how the community is so excited is great."
Wins over Lumpkin County and Oglethorpe County have energized the student body. So much so, they dominated the High 5 Sports Team of the Week Facebook poll, casting over seven thousand votes- besting the next closest competitor, the Lithonia Bulldogs, by nearly three thousand votes. Even the players were surprised by the community-wide voting effort, including running back Caleb Adair.
"I never though we'd have a chance to win and even have a chance of being on that list, but it was insane whenever those first voting updates came up, and we were in the lead, it was insane...I loved it."
Expect a packed house Thursday morning when Good Day Atlanta's Paul Milliken hosts a pep rally at the school. Milliken is scheduled to make live appearances in the 7a.m. and 8a.m. hours, before delivering the Team of the Week trophy to the Eagles around 9:15.