Fannin Co. High school senior Miles Johnson signed his National Letter of Intent on Thurdsay, Feb. 5, to declare his intention to play football at the University of Georgia as a preferred walk-on.
Johnson, a four-year varsity offensive lineman for the Rebels, had offers from nearly 10 schools, but chose Georgia because he wanted to play in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
“This has been a wild ride, to be honest with y’all,” Johnson said during his signing. “I have to first thank god for everything. (I’ve) always had the dream (of) going somewhere (in) the SEC, and that’s to him it’s all possible now.”
Fannin Co. head football coach Chad Cheatham said, “A lot of hard work, many years of beign on the football field, baseball field, basketball (court) whatever it is, goes into to something like this. Long hours in the weight room. A lot of sweat, a lot of blood, a lot of tears.”
Cheatham addressed Johnson directly by saying, “Miles, we appreciate what you’ve done, son. You know we love you, this community loves you, and it’s just an honor to be able to share this with you.”
Johnson finished by thanking everyone in attendance, including his parents who were sitting with him for the signing.
Johnson said his parents, Earl Johnson and Leslie Jabaley-Mann, are “my biggest supporters. … I can’t thank them enough. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today.”
He also thanked, “Coach Cheatham, all the coaches I’ve had throughout high school and all the way up to now. I gotta thank my teammates, their all here today. (They) have been my brothers all throughout high school and since we were little kids.”
Johnson finished by saying, “I appreciate all the support from this community.”
For more photos of the event, visit the TeamFYNSports Facebook page.
A video of Johnson’s signing can be found below.
Being able to fulfill a lifelong dream isn’t something most people get to do, but that’s just what happened to Fannin Co. High senior Miles Johnson earlier this week.
Johnson, a four-year varsity football player for the Rebels, announced Tuesday, Jan. 28, on social media, that he was accepting an offer from the University of Georgia to continue his football career.
Johnson said that he received nearly 10 offers, but in the end, the choice came down to Georgia or the University of Memphis.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss out on. I felt like it was the best choice for me,” Johnson said. “My dream, always, was to go play SEC (Southeastern Conference) ball somewhere and out of all places, Georgia is a top-notch school.”
Johnson, who is 6-foot-5 and weight in at nearly 300 pounds, is not just a football player. He played three years of baseball in high school and played basketball until his freshman year. After staying off the court for the majority of his high school career, Johnson joined the basketball team for his senior season.
“Being it was my senior year, I figured it would be good for footwork and keep me in shape. I’ve really enjoyed it,” Johnson said.
He’s not sure if he will play baseball in the spring yet, but hopes to let his teammates and coach know within the next week.
With spring practice at Georgia beginning in May, Johnson said he plans to get to Athens as soon as he can and participate in both spring practice and summer practice, which begins in June.
Johnson said he worked out for the Bulldogs coaching staff two years ago, but most of the coaches he spoke with are now at other schools.
“I met with coach (Kirby) Smart when I was in Athens,” Johnson said, adding that he’s been communicating with linebackers coach Glenn Shumann throughout the recruitment process.
Johnson said that after a phone call from Shumann, during which the offer was extended, it took about an hour-and-a-half before he decided to accept.
“I talked it over with my family and decided it was the best decision for me,” Johnson said.
As for playing football in the SEC, Johnson said “It’s an honor.”
“It’s unbelievable and an indescribable feeling right now. It didn’t sink in to me until I announced it online. It’s an incredible honor and I’m just ready to go and get to work,” Johnson said.
“I just want to thank God. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to be in the position I’m in. I want to thank my parents, my biggest supporters,” Johnson said. “I was to give a special shout to my grandmother … she’s like a second mom to me, always there for me. I want to thank my coaches for always pushing me to strive to get better, and my friends as well for always being there for me.”
The 10 players named TeamFYNSports Player of the Week during Fannin Co.’s 2019 football season were recognized Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the high school. Each player received a commemorative shirt and a gift certificate for a free meal.
The Rebels finished the season 6-5 overall and 3-3 in Region 7-AAA, which was strong enough to earn them a spot in the Class AAA state playoffs for the second-consecutive year.
The Players of the Week were:
Week 1: Luke Holloway. The junior quarterback was recognized for his performance in Fannin Co.’s 41-9 victory against Gilmer on Aug. 23 in Blue Ridge.
Week 2: Cohutta Hyde. The junior wide receiver was honored for his strong game in a 42-14 victory at Lafayette on Aug. 30.
Week 3: Jakob Tuggle. The senior defensive end and full back was recognized for his performance in a 33-14 loss to Union Co. on Sept. 13 in Blue Ridge.
Week 4: Treylyn Owensby. The senior running back was recognized for the first time during the season after his standout game in a 34-30 victory at Chestatee on Sept. 20.
Week 5: Jalen Ingram. The junior tight end was honored for his strong game in a 21-7 win at Cherokee Bluff on Oct. 4.
Week 6: Will Mosley. The senior linebacker and running back was recognized for his performance in a 49-26 win at East Hall on Oct. 11.
Week 7: Micah O’Neal. The junior linebacker was honored for his standout performance in a 38-0 loss to North Hall on Oct. 18 in Blue Ridge.
Week 8: Seth Reece. The sophomore was honored for his strong game in a 51-7 loss at Dawson Co. on Oct. 25.
Week 9: Treylyn Owensby. The senior running back was recognized a second time on the season for his standout game in a 35-14 win against Lumpkin Co. on Nov. 1 in Blue Ridge.
Week 10: Miles Johnson. The senior offensive lineman was honored for his great game in a 42-21 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian on Nov. 8 in Blue Ridge.
Week 11: Sawyer Moreland. The sophomore was recognized for his strong performance in the 36-7 loss at Cedar Grove in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 16.
Congratulations to all of the TeamFYNSports Players of the Week from the 2019 Fannin Co. football season!
Editor’s note: TeamFYNSports would like to thank our sponsors for the 2019 Fannin Co. football season. Without their support, coverage of the Rebels would not have been possible. A big thank you to Circuit World, Graphic Expressions, Day’s Chevrolet, Nicholson Tire, Dairy Queen of Blue Ridge, Papa’s Pizza of Blue Ridge, Mountain Place Realty, North GA Metals, Judge Brenda Weaver, First Community Mortgage Group, and Mesquite Grill.
The 2019 All-State Football Teams as selected by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution were released Thursday and several area players were honored.
Two players were named to the Class AAA first team: North Murray senior Ladd McConkey was named the first team Athlete, while Fannin Co. junior Luke Holloway was named the first team Punter.
Dawson Co. placed two players on the Honorable Mention list: senior defensive back Riley Herndon and junior place kicker Caleb Bonesteel.
North Murray senior linebacker Dylan Flood was also named an Honorable Mention.
In Class AA, two players from Rabun Co. were named to the first team: sophomore quarterback Gunner Stockton and senior wide receiver Braxton Hicks.
Union Co. senior quarterback Pierson Allison was named an Honorable Mention in Class AA.
The Region 7-3A All-Region Team was announced Tuesday, Dec. 17, and multiple members of the Fannin Co. football team were honored.
The entire team is as follows:
Player of the year: JT Fair, North Hall, senior running back/defensive back
Offensive MVP: Jackson Hardy, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior quarterback
Defensive MVP: Riley Herndon, Dawson Co., senior defensive back
Special Teams MVP: Caleb Bonesteel, Dawson Co., junior place kicker
Athlete of the Year: Dakohta Sonnichsen, Dawson Co., junior wide receiver
Lineman of the Year: Myles Hinton, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior offense/defense
Academic Player of the Year: Tino Mukono, Cherokee Bluff, senior defensive back
QB – Zach Holtzclaw, Dawson Co., sophomore
RB – Treylynn Owensby, Fannin Co., senior
RB – Jayquan Smith, Cherokee Bluff, sophomore
RB – Montavious Taber, East Hall, junior
RB – Jacob Dickey, North Hall, junior
FB – Will Mosley, Fannin Co., senior
WR – Christian Thomas, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
WR – Jaden Gibson, Dawson Co., freshman
WR – Drew Highfield, East Hall, senior
WR – Brooks Miller, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
TE – Thomas Lawson, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
OL – Addison Nichols, Greater Atlanta Christian, sophomore
OL – Austin Sullens, North Hall, senior
OL – Micah Holman, North Hall, senior
OL – Mason Bundy, Fannin Co., junior
OL – Miles Johnson, Fannin Co., senior
OL – Mateo Guevera, Cherokee Bluff, sophomore
ATH/RB/DB – Tyler Bride, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DL – Spencer Helms, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DL – Logan Hawthorne, North Hall, senior
DL – Nate Nixon, North Hall, senior
DL – Dakota Collins, Cherokee Bluff, junior
DL – Aaron Hopkins, Lumpkin Co., senior
DL – Jakob Tuggle, Fannin Co., senior
LB – Choe Bryant-Strother, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
LB – DJ Mitchell, Dawson Co., senior
LB – Dalton Battle, North Hall, junior
LB – Jackson Weeks, Fannin Co., senior
LB – Micah O’Neal, Fannin Co., junior
DB – Luke Volle, North Hall, senior
DB – Brody Howell, Dawson Co., senior
DB – Evan Byrd, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
DB – Joseph Rose, Greater Atlanta Christian, junior
DB – Breadon Hubbard, Dawson Co., sophomore
P – Luke Holloway, Fannin Co., junior
P – Jacob Carlson, Cherokee Bluff, senior
PK – Tyler Curland, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
SPEC – Zac Mixon, Greater Atlanta Christian, senior
On Wednesday I stopped by one of the local rec departments to iron out some details for an upcoming event that Team FYN Sports plans to cover. As often happens in small towns where time seems to move a little slower, you can’t go into a place where people are as close as a rec department and just have your meeting and leave. You end up talking about something like, in this case sports, that leads into one topic after another. Add a couple more people into the mix that you haven’t seen in a while and soon enough you glance down at your watch and you’ve been there for two hours with no idea where the time went. Southerners especially know what I mean.
Anyway, naturally with this being SEC country we had to talk about college football. And even more so when one of the people in the conversation was a Tennessee fan (you know who you are!)
Eventually our conversation turned to memories of our first college football games. The memories spanned years and were entwined with heartfelt stories of family, friends and Sanford stadium. There were tales of witnessing games where records were set and broken, of firsts and lasts. A couple of us could even recall games with rivalries so bitter that a rowdy fan from the opposing team was either physically injured or injured with glares.
For each of us that was sitting in the room we had a look of wonder in our eye. We were recalling memories that were so precious to us that we wouldn’t trade them for all the University of Florida defeats in the world. Especially the ones were loved ones were involved. Those are always the most precious.
Hearing those glorious tales took me back to my own first University of Georgia game. I couldn’t tell you who they were playing, but I remember watching the team run out with the big Georgia flag and feeling a since of pride I hadn’t felt before. I was with my mom and my grandparents. I had never seen my Nana get so rowdy. And my Papa Skip was especially proud to have the three most important women in his life with him and dressed in red and black. And a new love was born for me.
As a side note, my brother would later commit the ultimate sin in that side of the family and declare himself to be a Florida fan. I’m sure it broke Papa’s heart at the time, but he soon got over it when he had someone to accompany him to the Georgia/Florida game besides my Nana. Such is the seriousness of rivalries in the Southeastern Conference.
I know I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I firmly believe that nothing besides religion brings people together like a football game. Which is probably why it’s so common to refer to football as a religion in the South. You may hate someone during the week, but come Saturday morning if you’re both wearing red and black you’re going to at least be cordial.
I know that it may be more intense in other college towns, but in Athens people will arrive a full day early to claim their tailgating spots. Red and black tents flood the streets of downtown on every plot of grass that grows. Women (including myself) will go to get their nails and hair done ahead of time, and dress to the nine in ninety degree weather. There is no telling how many hundreds of thousands of dollars get spent on food and drinks for one weekend of tailgating alone.
I was recently watching an old episode of the show Designing Women. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, it’s about four women running an interior design firm in Atlanta. In one scene Julia Sugarbaker, who is the sharp-tongued primary owner of the firm, is leaving for a football game with one of her co-workers. Sadly, she was going to a Georgia Tech game, but we’ll overlook that part for now.
As the two characters are heading out the door, Julia says that she and her husband used to plan their weekends around the Georgia Tech games. She quips, “In the East, football is a cultural exercise. In the Midwest, it’s cannibalism. In the West, it’s a tourist attraction. But in the South, it’s a religion!”
According to a Fannin County Football tweet, the Rebels played the Copper Basin Cougars for the first time last night since 1997. After waiting for twenty-two years, the rival teams finally went head to head in a scrimmage once again. The stadium was packed and the energy was high. Fans from all over came out to see how the game would unfold.
Fannin came out ready to play and it showed from their performance. For Fannin’s first offensive play of the game, junior quarterback Luke Holloway threw a long pass to wide receiver Cohutta Hyde for a touchdown straight out of the gate. Sara Sosebee and Alex White were on fire with their 100% made field goals. It didn’t take long for the Rebels defense to take down the Cougars offense. Fannin gained a lot of yards by having a good passing game throughout the night. The Rebels scored their second touchdown of the night by a pass to senior running back, Treylyn Owensby. As Basin had the ball on offense, it wasn’t far up the field before Rebel, Seth Reece, intercepted the ball to end the first quarter with Fannin ahead 14-0.
Owensby was the go to guy for Holloway to hand off to and gain yards. As the Rebels got closer to the end zone, Luke made a pass to Hyde in the corner for another touchdown! On a Copper Basin first down, there was a long throw up the field to Cougar, Tim Jabley, for Basin’s first touchdown. When it came time for the field goal attempt, it was no good, putting the score at 21-6. That is until Fannin decided to follow the trend with a pass to Cohutta Hyde for another Rebel touchdown, closing out the second quarter with a score of 35-6.
The Cougars played a short amount of offense before Fannin was able to get the ball back. Once the Rebels had possession, Holloway made a pass to Hyde for him to score his fourth and final touchdown of the night. During Basin’s first offensive play, Carson Beavers got an interception and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. After Basin faced Fannin’s unstoppable defense, Caleb Postell was handed the ball and ran it to the end zone for another Rebel touchdown. Instead of kicking a field goal, Fannin went for a two point conversion, but failed at the attempt. The Rebels went into the fourth quarter with a 55-6 lead.
To start off the fourth quarter, freshman David Mashburn went in for Holloway as quarterback. Fannin mostly ran the ball during the fourth quarter and played a solid defense. Both teams held the other and stopped them from scoring more touchdowns. As the buzzer sounded, Fannin walked away with a 55-6 victory over Copper Basin!
Catch Fannin’s next scrimmage, Friday at Hayesville, starting at 7:30!
If any of you are under the age of 18 and reading this article, then I imagine this week was probably a tough week for you. I say that because the majority of schools in the state of Georgia started back this week.
I can remember being in high school and having a knot of dread in my stomach the night before the first day of school. I’ve never been a morning person, so having to get up early was my first problem. Add in all of the homework and having to spend my days in one building…it was easy to tell I wasn’t a school person.
The good news is there was always one bright spot in all of this gloom, and that was football season. I know I’ve said it before on our sports show, Instant Replay, and probably in this column as well, but in high school I lived for football season. I never missed a game, home or away. Granted I was in the colorguard with the marching band, so most of the time I HAD to go. But I can still remember a handful of games where we weren’t required to go, and some of my friends got together and still went anyway.
Those were good times, but I dare to say that these are even better. I’m thankful to have a job that pays me to follow a sport that I love. But on the other hand, it’s a job that’s helping me to get an inside look on other sports that are sometimes forgotten, especially in the South where football is a religion.
I covered my first softball game on Tuesday. I have watched and worked softball games in the past, so in my defense I knew what to expect, but it was my first time reporting on a game. It was the Lumpkin County Lady Indians against the Pickens Dragonettes in the Lady Indians home opener. One thing I loved about this game was that it wasn’t just smooth sailing, if you will. Just to give a brief recap, the Nettes put three runs on the board first. By the fifth inning, it was looking as though the Lady Indians might lose their home opener. But as with all great teams, the Lady Indians weren’t going down without a fight and ended up coming back to win 4-3. Ironically, I went to the next game where they played each other tonight and the Nettes ended up winning 9-4.
Softball is just one of several high school sports that is played in the fall. There’s also volleyball and cross country. While I haven’t gotten the chance to go cover either of these events yet, I know that I probably will be in the near future.
I’ve never personally played volleyball competitively, but I know several people who have. And from what I do know about it, there’s more technique to setting and hitting the ball than there seems. Whenever I play for fun at the beach I just feel lucky to get it over the net. But there are certain ways to prepare before you serve the ball and where to place your feet when you’re in an official match. I don’t see how players keep up with everything, other than that they practice. I know it’s got to feel great whenever you take all of your frustration out by smacking the ball.
Now I enjoy running, but I could never run cross country. I’ve seen the joke that says “my sport is your sport’s punishment” and to be honest, that’s how I feel because I don’t know how they do it. I can remember talking to cross country runners in high school, and them telling me that they would get up at 6 a.m. to run. And for some of them, the distances they would run blew my mind. But the other incredible thing to me about cross country is how much of a mental sport it is. Not only do runners have to be trained physically to maintain a certain time, they also have to be trained physically to encourage themselves to keep going.
The point I’m trying to make is that even though I’m still learning about other sports, I respect them because I do know how hard they work. I see the social media posts, I know people that play, and I see the teams out practicing well before their season starts. And even though the summer is ending and we’re back to school, the exciting thing is we’re past the days of camps and well on our way to the actual competition. I can’t wait to see what all of these young athletes accomplish.
Over the last week and a half BKP and I have been going from school to school interviewing head football coaches for our North Georgia Coaching Series. Now if any of y’all know BKP, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he’s been doing most of the talking and I’ve been doing most of the observing. But this doesn’t bother me, it gives me a chance to learn more about the programs I’ll be spending a lot of time with this fall.
With that being said, there’s one thing in particular I’ve been noticing in our interviews, and that’s how much these coaches truly care about their players and their programs.
Now me saying that might make some of y’all think, “Well, duh. That’s what they’re supposed to do.” Well, maybe. But I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up when someone is just putting on an act for appearances. And I can say with all sincerity that none of these coaches are doing that.
Obviously when BKP and I go into these interviews, he asks questions about what the teams have been doing during the summer and how they’re planning to prepare for the regular season. But he also asks the coaches if they can highlight a few players that have really stood out. This point in the interview, I believe, is where a coach who didn’t care would possibly just say a couple names and move on.
But these coaches not only name the players, they tell us about why they stand out. And it’s a sign of the hard work of these athletes, but there’s also a sense of pride from these coaches as they name them. A couple of coaches have mentioned that it’s hard to name just a few, because all of their players have worked hard. And it’s not that the rest of the team doesn’t matter or that they don’t care about them, but the ones that they mention they do so without hesitation because they’ve been there with them through the summer truly coaching them. There’s no so-so about the commitment these coaches make- they’re all in.
Another thing that has amazed me about these coaches, not just in the interviews but learning about them off the field, is how much they care about their community as well. A couple of them, such as Chad Cheatham at Fannin County and Chad McClure at Hayesville, are natives to their communities. It’s home to them, and they’re not going to be just halfway in their commitments to their programs.
When Coach Caleb Sorrells of the Lumpkin County Indians was first named as head coach, the school hosted a meet and greet for him. It was one of the first stories I covered in this position.
In his address to the parents, Sorrells promised to not only invest in the team as players and athletes, but as men who would one day be employees and fathers. I remember being caught off guard at first because I was expecting him to talk about plans for the future of the program, the summer schedule and what not. He did talk about these things, but I believe by telling the parents that he was going to invest in the players as men showed that it was going to be a priority.
Although I know more about the commitment that Sorrells has made because I’m positioned in Lumpkin County, he’s not the only one in the area who gets involved in the community and works to build up the athletes’ character.
Tim Cokely with the White County Warriors has an entire wall of his office decorated with signs of good character qualities to instill in the team. Chad Cheatham, who I mentioned earlier, referees basketball in the football off-season just because, and the community loves him for it. I’m sure that many of the other coaches in the area do similar things and I just don’t know about it yet.
These are commitments that we see played out by coaches in movies and don’t always think to look for in real life. And because I grew up in Gwinnett County, population one million, if there was this sort of commitment by coaches I didn’t always see it because there were so many people. I love living up here in North Georgia in a smaller community where an act of kindness, especially where sports are concerned, rarely goes unnoticed.
We think about football as a sport that instills a since of discipline, but why is that? Because there’s a coach that sets that standard and inspires the team to do the same. As a community we love football and we love our team, and we can thank a coach for that.
When it comes to sports coverage if it is happening in North Ga, Team FYN Sports is #AllOverIt
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Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
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After a two week break, the Fannin County Rebels are ready to get back to work.
“They came back in and seemed to be real fresh and excited, and we had a lot of good energy,” said Head Coach Chad Cheatham about their first practice back.
Although the Rebels graduated eleven seniors off the team from last year, the team is taking it in stride.
Cheatham mentioned the strengths of the freshmen and sophomores who played last year, and then went a little bit into recruiting for this year.
“We picked up several good kids, kids that left the program even in the spring when I first got here are starting to come back in,” said Cheatham.
Rebels fans know that Cheatham led the team to the playoffs last year for the first time in several years, so BKP asked Cheatham if the team had set a standard for this year.
“Absolutely,” replied Cheatham. “I think that not only just making the playoffs, but advancing now to the playoffs…I don’t think that these guys want to accept, or will accept, anything less than that.”
The full interview can be viewed below, only on FYN TV!
Recently I’ve started watching the show Friday Night Lights again. Let me just say- this is partially important because I’m not a big TV show person. I don’t have the patience to sit through an hour-long episode nor do I usually have the time to keep up with a series. But I figure with pre-season football kicking in and the fall season quickly approaching, revisiting a show that revolves around high school football is one of the best ways to get me hyped up for what’s to come.
Watching this series has also made me think about a couple of things. For one, why do we as a society rally so much around a sport that’s played by boys no older than 18-years-old? Second, do we put too much pressure on athletes who play the game? And finally, is the hype and the pressure truly worth it?
I think the answer can be summed up pretty easily- yes. And why? For love of the game.
But the love of the game is different for each of us. We’re not all going to attend every single football game or spend thousands of dollars to sit in Sanford every Saturday. We all have our limits, and in my opinion that’s perfectly okay.
I like to say that there’s something about having a team that you love that will get inside of you and never leave. I find it fascinating that there are towns across America like Dillon, Texas that will show up in the thousands to support their Panthers. Coaches and players are local celebrities, and you get your butt in the stands every Friday night just as religiously as a pew on Sunday morning. I came from a high school of nearly 4,000 students and a county of almost one million people, but the same spirit that rallies much smaller towns across the country still pulses through mine.
Yes, oftentimes I’m afraid that means we put too much pressure on the athletes who play the game. In my own personal experience, at the high school level we had so many students that it was nearly impossible to know the daily goings-on at the field house. But it was that age-old cycle of that when we would win, the coaches and players would be praised. One loss and the attitude switched faster than the direction of a twister.
But one of the many great things about this country is we have the freedom of choice in many of our decisions. Even though the athletes and coaches who play these games catch a lot of grief, they still have the choice to walk away. Some do. But for those who don’t? I’d venture to say it’s for love of the game.
When it comes to putting pressure on athletes, especially young ones, I believe the relationship is a two-way street. They should know what they’re doing, but despite all the love we have for the game, we need to understand when enough is enough. I’ve heard the term “daddy ball” thrown around a lot before, and it makes me sad to think that there are parents out there who try to live through their children. It’s important to love and support them, but even more important to let them develop their own love for their game.
Finally, like I mentioned earlier, everyone’s love for the game is different. My Papa Skip, who I probably talk to the most about sports, has a different appreciation for them than I do. I’ll use UGA football as an example. He attended classes at UGA- I never have. He still goes every year to the UGA/Florida game in Jacksonville- I’ve only gone once. He pays each year to have season tickets for the home games- I CERTAINLY don’t do that, although when he doesn’t want them I get first dibs (thanks Papa!)
The point I’m trying to make is while we all may say we love sports, we each love them differently. We each have a certain line we’re willing to cross. But at the same time, come Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or playoffs, we rally behind our team. And we each get our butts in the stands. Why? For love of the game.
About five years ago I told my dad, who is one of my biggest fans but also one of the most blunt people you’ll ever meet, that I wanted to be the first female head coach in the NFL.
“You can’t do that, Lauren,” he said.
“Why?” I argued.
I was expecting some drawn-out response about how I didn’t know enough about football.
“Because you can’t go in the men’s locker room,” he said flatly.
Ah, I hadn’t thought of that.
That was my senior year of high school, and never did I think I would be where I am now.
I grew up an UGA fan; my grandad attended college there in the ’60s and the red and black passed down into my veins. I learned to spell Georgia by chanting the fight song in my head (I still do subconsciously whenever I have to write it out!) I had an UGA cheerleader outfit and one of my baby pictures has me holding a stuffed bulldog. One of my nana’s fondest memories is of dancing around the living room with me as an infant when Georgia scored a big touchdown against Georgia Tech. I’ve never considered myself athletic, but I believe I owe a lot of my passion for sports to Papa Skip and Nana.
Flash forward a few years and the first time I stepped foot on a sideline was as a cheerleader for the 8th grade Mill Creek rec football league. Cheerleading was not for me, and within a year I traded in pom poms for a six-foot flag pole as a member of the Mill Creek High School Colorguard.
In high school I lived for Friday night lights, and I have many fond memories of screaming myself hoarse for the Hawks while in the stands with the marching band. It was a well-known fact that I was the most spirited person in the band when it came to football, and while my coach would be yelling at me to pay attention during our warm-ups I’d be busy trying to figure out how much yardage we’d gotten from the last pass.
I guess my fellow classmates took note of my love for the game as well, because they voted me their Homecoming Queen my senior year. That is still one of my all-time favorite memories from high school- hearing my name called while standing on the 50 surrounded by family and friends.
I graduated from Mill Creek in 2015 but I had a hard time staying away from Markham Field. The University of North Georgia doesn’t have a football team, and Mill Creek decided to get really good the year after I left (this was the fall of 2015, the year they got knocked out by Colquitt County one round before the state championship.)
In the spring of 2016 I heard of an opportunity to work for the Gwinnett Braves, Triple-A minor league affiliate for the Atlanta Braves. Needing a summer job but hoping to avoid retail, I took it. I spent the next two summers as a Guest Relations Representative scanning tickets and welcoming fans. In addition to my already-sound knowledge of football, I learned all I could about America’s favorite pastime and a new love was born.
I spent one more summer at Coolray Field before graduating college, and this time it was as a member of the Promotional Team. That may be the most fun I ever had at work. Our team set up the on-field promotional games, signed up contestants, sold 50/50 raffle tickets and overall worked to make sure people had a good time. I certainly did- the memories I made with my team that year will forever be some of my favorites.
For a while I told people that I wasn’t interested in sports journalism, but the Lord as he fortunately often does had other plans. I got the opportunity to intern with the UNG Athletic Department my senior year of college, and I left Gwinnett County to plant some roots in the North Georgia mountains.
Two months ago I still wasn’t certain that I’d ever work in sports again, but when baseball started back up I knew I couldn’t live without it. I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity to apply with FetchYourNews.com, and even more fortunate to get an offer. And here we are.
I don’t tell you all this to brag on my accomplishments or give you some long-winded biography. I want to be just as much a part of your community as you all are now a part of my daily life. When I come to your sideline I want to know each of you and each of you know me. Part of being a great sports reporter is establishing a relationship with your team and community. Part of that relationship includes establishing trust, and how can you can trust someone if you don’t even know them?
One of the biggest reasons I keep working in sports is because of the the communities they create and the people I get to meet. There’s something about having a team to rally around that gets inside of you and never leaves. The people I have met so far and the connections I have made are priceless and will forever be a part of who I am and a big reason for why I do what I do.
So here’s to the journey ahead, and here’s to memories that are yet to be made and the relationships yet to be formed. I can’t wait North Georgia!
TeamFetchYourNews Sports Reporter’s Player of the Week goes out to 88 Jalen Ingram. Jalen Ingram is a Sophomore at Fannin County High School. Ingram plays Tight End and Defensive Line for the Fannin Rebels. Ingram played a good game Friday night, scoring a 24-yard touchdown for the Rebels. Ingram gained a combined total of 75+ yards in kickoff returns for the Rebels. In the third quarter of the game on Friday, Holloway made a 30-yard connection with Ingram getting the Rebels closer to Trojans red zone.
The Fannin County High School Rebels take on the Cherokee Bluff Bears for their first regional home game. Rebels brought high energy into the first half and executed their plays during the 4th quarter, beating the Bears 45-7.
After the coin toss, the Rebels’ #32 Treylyn Owensby with the kickoff return to their own 34-yard line. From there, the Rebels set the tone of the game as they scored three touchdowns. Luke Holloway handed off to Owensby for a 30-yard touchdown, Holloway connected with Chandler Kendall for a 37-yard touchdown, and Holloway passed to Jalen Ingram for a 32-yard touchdown. Sarah Sosebee with the extra 3 points gave the Rebels the lead of 21-0.
Rebels defense dominated the first quarter as they kept the Bears off the scoreboard. Every time it looked as though the Bears would gain a few yards, they would get flagged for ‘false start’ and ‘off sides’ which pushed them back. It was apparent that the Rebels had established an early lead that would put too much pressure on the Bears to come back later in the game.
Second quarter began much like the first, with the Rebels adding to their lead. Rebels moved the pigskin downfield with Kendall 24-yards, Holloway 6-yards, and Owensby 26-yards and the touchdown. Sosebee with the extra point brings up the score 28-0 with 8:05 left in the 1st half.
With less than five minutes left in the 1st half, the Bears execute a trick play (triple reverse) and find themselves at the Rebels 6-yard line. From there, the Bears took on Rebels defense before lighting up the scoreboard the only time that night, 28-7.
After their touchdown, the Bears seemed to have caught a second-wind, or maybe the Rebels backed off a little, allowing the Bears to get into the red zone on Rebels 19-yard line. The momentum of the game may have been turning the Bears way, but that same moment was short lived when the Bears had a turnover.
The Rebels take over at their own 19-yard line with 38 seconds left in the 1st half. The Bears intercepted Holloways attempt to connect with Ingram before the buzzer sound ended the 1st half with the Rebels on top, 28-7.
It was obvious after the Rebels first half, Head Coach Chad Cheatham needed to go into the locker room and maybe remind the Rebels that they had not yet won the game and they needed to finish the game.
In the 3rd quarter, the Bears received the kickoff but weren’t successful in moving downfield. The Bears made it to their own 35-yard line before being pushed back 5-yards for a flag on the play. This caused the Bears to have to punt.
With Kendall’s 20-yard punt return, the Rebels start on their own 44-yard line. The Rebels were unable to get anything going in that drive and were forced to punt that would give the Bears the ball on their own 34-yard line.
In the 3rd quarter, the Rebels defense stopped any hope the Bears had of getting into the end zone. The Bears were forced to punt and 44-yard punt, the Rebels were put on their own 1-yard line. Basically, having to run 1st down out of their own end zone, Holloway handed off to Owensby and gained 26-yards giving the Rebels some breathing room as the sound of the buzzer ended the quarter.
Rebels start the 4th quarter on their own 27-yard line and only 12 minutes away from winning the first region game of the season. The Rebels left it all on the field as they made quick work of crossing the 50-yard line into Bears territory. Holloway handed off to 35 Will Mosley for a 52-yard touchdown. Sosebee was on fire as she went 5 for 5 lighting up the scoreboard 35-7.
The Rebels defense did not allow the Bears to get any positive yards. Mason Rhodes and Jackson Weeks kept the Bears at the 31-yard line for the 2nd and 3rd down. Rhodes tackled a Bear at their own 21-yard line for a loss of yards bringing up a 4th down. Bears backed the punt, 31 Campbell Constentino blocked the punt and 50 Matthew Lewis made the recovery at the Bears 11-yard line.
A Rebels drive to their own 9-yard line, and on the 4th down and elected to go for a 21-yard field goal attempt. 38 Alex White with a 21-yard field goal giving the Rebels 38-7 with 7:39 left in the game.
The Bears received the kickoff and attempted to make their way into Rebel territory but at this point there was no moving the ball past Rebels defense. With 3:51 left in the game, the Bears found themselves 4th and 8 at their own 43-yard line. 83 Dalton Ross tackled a Bear for a loss at their own 36-yard line for the turnover on downs.
With a little less than 3:30 left in the game, Rebels took over at their own 36-yard line. Owensby gained 25-yards, Matthew Postell gained another 7-yards, and Norton rushed the last 7-yards for the touchdown. Sosebee went for a successful 6 for 6 and the Rebels broke the scoreboard 45-7.
The Bears received the kickoff with 2:57 left in the game. The Rebels kept them in their own territory for the last two minutes and the buzzard sounded ending the game leaving the Bears at the 40-yard line.
The Rebels played a great game as many players put their hands on the ball and defense made some great plays—like Constentino’s block on the punt and Lewis’s recovery. The Rebels win their first regional game against the Bears.
Let’s see who comes out on top during tonight’s game. The Rebels will be playing East Hall High School at home at 7:30! It’s alumni night, along with Fannin Park and Rec, so come out and support all the Rebels dating back to the 80s!