Gainesville, Ga. - Imagine someone knocks on your door. You answer. You realize the person used to live in your neighborhood. The person then tells you they want to hand you enough cash to completely renovate your house. New hardwoods. New roof. A fresh coat of paint inside and out. A gigantic home theater. And for good measure, the person offers to clean up the park next door-adding walking trails, bathrooms and a playground for the kids.
It's sort of like being a North Hall High school student in 2018- just like Lynn Cottrell was back in the 80's. Mrs.Cottrell knocks on your principal's door and says, "I'd like to make a donation" and just like that, your world changes.
Thanks to that multi-million dollar charitable offer, students at the North Hall campus now watch as construction workers put the finishing touches on the first phase of an enormous renovation project that includes a new synthetic turf field, a state-of-the art video board, an enlarged press box, locker room upgrades and facelifts to the school's gymnasium and wrestling facilities.
"It's an unbelievable piece for our community," North Hall Athletic Director Billy Wells said. "And it's not just felt at the high school level. This (donation) affects many aspects of our athletic efforts including our Junior Trojan Football program. This is our 61st year as a high school. It's a generational place where grandmas and grandpas still come to games on Friday night."
Trojan football fans of all ages will converge on The Brickyard, the school's legendary field now named in honor of Lynn Cottrell, again this Friday night for the High 5 Sports Game of the Week featuring North Hall and the Cherokee Warriors.
The Trojans and Warriors have never played each other in football, Cherokee competes in the state's largest classification, 7-A, while North Hall plays most of their games against 3-A opponents. So how did this unusual matchup happen? North Hall head coach David Bishop explains.
"One of our scheduled opponents backed out of their game with us around Christmastime last year and I looked around and saw our choices for a replacement game- Buford, Tucker, Grayson or Commerce. Well, I said to myself, 'Do you really want to play them?' Cherokee was also an option, so we worked it out."
Even though the two teams aren't a natural fit, they've already developed a somewhat chippy relationship after playing each other in a summer 11-on-11 camp at the University of West Georgia in late July. Coach Bishop said the scrimmages were intense and physical and got pretty heated at times. He expects a similar intensity Friday night in Gainesville.
Cherokee, led by seventh year head coach Josh Shaw, won their opener on the road at North Forsyth, before dropping a home game 21-6 to the Sequoyah Chiefs. North Hall has outscored their opponents 98-7 so far in 2018 behind a classic Wing-T offense that looks a little bit like what you'll find at Auburn.
"Last year I started seven or eight sophomores on both sides of the ball," said Bishop. We started the season 0-4, but finished up winning four of our last six games and making the playoffs."
That youthful core has now developed into a confident group of upperclassmen, led by running back Daniel Jackson and David Seavey, who starts at quarterback and safety and rarely leaves the field. If the Trojans can stay healthy, they should make another playoff appearance despite playing in a fairly tough 7-AAA region featuring Greater Atlanta Christian and Dawson County.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 Friday night at the new-and-improved Brickyard. Veteran High 5 Sports reporter Bill Hartman anchors our coverage with help from photographer "Super Blaine" Kummet. Catch the highlights on the big show at 11 o'clock and find out who takes home the coveted Golden Hand Trophy-a donation FOX 5 is happy to make to the this week's winner.