CARROLLTON, Ga. - The lights are bright in Carroll County on Friday nights in the fall.
On a given Friday you can catch the 7-time state champion Carrollton Trojans protecting their undefeated home record at historic Grisham Stadium, or head a few blocks over for a look at the always physical Central Lions who boast a couple of titles of their own. If that doesn't do anything for you then take a short drive over to Temple, where the Tigers are establishing their own tradition under head coach Scotty Ward.
In Villa Rica, the Wildcats have a strong history that includes a state championship back in 1986. And if you head towards the Alabama State Line, you'll go through Bowdon, where the Red Devils display two title trophies of their own. But there's currently only one football team in Carroll County without a blemish on their record in 2017- the Mt. Zion Eagles.
"We've been the underdogs here in Carroll County," said Eagles quarterback C.J. Ackles. "We want to go as deep as we can (in the playoffs) and hope for a ring. We just want to prove everybody wrong. We know how good we are and that's what really matters."
Mt. Zion has been playing football since 1956 according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, yet the Eagles have just three region titles to show for it. Last year's team went 9-1 under head coach Keith Holloway and despite losing nineteen starters the Eagles (6-0) are at it again under new head coach Brad Gordon who was promoted from defensive coordinator when Holloway retired as head football coach to concentrate on his duties as the school's athletic director. All of the players we talked to, including linebacker Kareem Walker, said they expect to go undefeated and bring a championship to the tiny school of fewer than 400 students located just west of downtown Carrollton.
"We're trying to make history at Mt. Zion." said Walker. "You know we're a small community, a small environment, so we're trying to bring a ring back home- that's really it."
The Eagles are currently tied with Trion atop the region 6 Div A-A standings and host Bowdon Friday night before a huge October 20 showdown on the road against the Bulldogs which will likely produce the eventual region winner.
Good Day Atlanta's Paul Milliken will host a Thursday morning pep rally at the school for the second time in as many years. The Eagles won Team of the Week honors last season after posting a 6-0 record to start the season before eventually losing in the first round of the GHSA Playoffs.