ATLANTA - The North Georgia mountains are a destination for many travelers this time of the year, but don't count Hapeville Charter head football coach Winston Gordon among them. Gordon's Hornets will be on the road this Friday night in Tiger, after six state championship games, including his, were postponed due to weather over the weekend.
"That's the disheartening thing about it," Winston told FOX 5 Sports. "A lot of these parents won't get to see their child play in a championship game."
Instead of driving twenty minutes to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a Saturday to play for the Class 2-A title, Hapeville Charter will drive about two hours on a Friday afternoon to Rabun County, meaning a lot of friends and family won't be able to make the trip.
"My childhood dream of playing in the (Mercedes-Benz Stadium) and making it to the championship was taken away, but we still got a game to go out there and win." said Hornets cornerback Chris Smith. Quarterback Hajj-malik Williams says the reality is hitting home as Hapeville prepares for the biggest game in school history.
"My mom in particular, and a lot of my family were pretty bummed that it's gonna be up north so they can't make it."
It's been an easier alternative to swallow for teams hosting like Marist in Class 4-A against Blessed Trinity.
"We told them (players) it wouldn't matter where we're playing. If we're gonna be playing in the parking lot at Target we'll play there." said War Eagles head coach Alan Chadwick. "We're gonna have to bring in some additional bleachers to handle the crowd. And then, of course, there's security issues and things like that. The Georgia High School Association still manages the games and they kind of direct it, and take care of the management."
As for those state title contenders on the road, especially those with long trips ahead...
"I don't think anybody ever thought this would happen in their wildest dreams." said Gordon. "This has been a nightmare to a lot of these families- and to this community that would have come out in droves to support us."
Hapeville Charter will also have to pay for buses to bring their players, cheerleaders and fans to Rabun County. A price that will be worth it if they can bring home a state championship, even if the circumstances aren't what the Hornets were dreaming about.