Saturday, March 9, 2013 • 7 p.m.
Gilmer High School, Huff-Mosley Stadium
Half of PRE-SOLD ticket proceeds go to GHS Touchdown Club.
$10 – BUY PRE-SOLD TICKETS:
Jeremy Sellers 706-273-9373
Brent Dotson 706-889-0558
D.J. & Concessions start at 4 p.m.
by Robbie Bills
When Gilmer and Pickens alumni get together for a football game March 9, it will be a dream come true for many.
Former players will take the field again, long removed from their playing days. And for some, they will take the field for the first time ever to see what all the fuss is about.
Whether you are on the field or in the stands, the game will prove to be a spectacle to remember, albeit a “sore” memory for some.
The brain behind the contest is Alumni Football (AF), a company that has brought together dozens of rivalries and thousands of former teammates across the country. AF organized a meeting to gauge interest and meet with prospective players from each side. After sufficient interest was discovered the game was scheduled.
While AF will handle much of the game day activities, such as providing equipment, referees and security, captains from each team have handled most of the work leading up to the game.
Former Bobcats and alumni team captains Joe Frady, Jeremy Sellers, Brent Dotson and Bobby Teague have been busy promoting the event and selling tickets, all while conducting team practices on a weekly basis. By the time March 9 rolls around, the Bobcat roster of 51 players will have practiced for eight weeks.
Everything in the game will be played live, including special teams. Quarter length will be 15 minutes and players will be free to celebrate big hits and touchdowns, similar to professional football.
The game will be a preserved memory for all as ESPN will focus a 30 for 30 documentary on AF, which will feature the Gilmer-Pickens match-up.
Inside the numbers
Aside from 1972, Gilmer and Pickens have met every year on the football field since 1957. No matter where you draw the line to distinguish north Georgia, the two schools have one of the longest standing rivalries with 55 meetings.
Gilmer leads the series, 34-20-1, with the only tie coming in 1986, when the two met with a combined record of 11-0. Not a single point was scored, though the Bobcats had a late opportunity deep in Dragon territory.
The series is noted for its streaks. According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, only twice (2001 and 2007) has Gilmer sandwiched a win between losses. Its first streak came with the inception of the series in 1957. Gilmer won nine in a row with its first loss coming in 1966 by a score of 13-12.
GHS then went on a three-game winning streak. After Pickens won the next seven, GHS responded by taking the next eight. Since then, Gilmer has also put together a seven-game winning streak from 1991 through 1997.
Before the Bobcats current four game winning streak, they dropped 9-of-11 games, which included a five-game losing streak from 2002 through 2006.
There have been 20 occasions during the series in which one team did not score a point. Gilmer has shutout Pickens 13 times, while getting blanked nine times. Of those nine, GHS has only been shutout twice at home.
Home has been a favorable location for the Bobcats overall, where they won 19-of-28 meetings. In Pickens, Gilmer is 15-11-1.
GHS established the series record for most points scored when it won 58-26 in 1997. GHS’ largest margin of victory came in the first game of the series when it smashed PHS, 57-0.
The Dragons’ largest wins came in 2000 with a 41-6 victory, and in 2008, 50-11. They mark the only years Pickens has scored 40 or more points. The Bobcats have achieved this feat five times
On the sideline
For the alumni game, GHS will welcome back four coaches with over 80 combined years of experience. They are four men who positively impacted the lives of hundreds of former Bobcats, both on and off the field.
According to Sellers, John Sluder will be on the sideline for the March 9 game. Along with the late Don Gudger, he coached the Bobcat football team from 1957 through 1970. Along his side will be Mike Gates, who was the Bobcats’ head man from 1984 through 1990. Making up the quartet of coaches will be brothers John and Mark Pettit, who have nearly 60 years of football coaching experience between them.
At their disposal will be 51 ready and willing Bobcats. The team’s elder statesmen are Tony Davis and Sheldon Fowler, both 1985 graduates. Gilmer’s youngest players, Ryan Lowery, Caleb Teague and Tanner Davis, walked the halls of GHS just last year.
The class of 1994 has the strongest representation with seven players. Also joining the alumni Bobcats from GHS’ 9-1 team in 1991 will be Paul Kiker Jr., Bo Stanley, Huston Elliott, Michael Lowery and Jamie Davis. John Allen, Nicholas Weaver and Mikey Bramlett were members of GHS’ 8-3 team in 1997, as was Brian Henderson, who is the only alumni to suit up on the 1999 team, which is the lone Gilmer squad to win a state playoff game since the four-team qualifying process was adopted.
Gilmer’s median graduating class is 2000, which puts the median age around 31. Even though the Bobcats are a veteran squad, Sellers noted a recent practice in which the team’s commitment was reaffirmed.
After a meeting to discuss playing time and appoint younger players to special teams, a disappointed Sheldon Fowler approached Sellers.
“Sheldon told me, with big watery eyes,” Sellers recalled, “he said, ‘I don’t care if I play a down, but I’m playing kickoff. I lay in bed at night dreaming about knocking someone’s helmet off. I just want to do this one more time.’”
Sellers replied, “All right, you’re the man.”
At practice, players have been without full pads, but Sellers assured it has not taken away from the intensity and focus. When Gilmer and Pickens take the field, it will be both teams first time in full pads.
Presale tickets are still available and can be purchased for $10 from Southside Express Lube, Magic Touch Hair Designs, Mr. P’s Take Out and team captains. Admission will be $12 at the gate and youth football players and cheerleaders get in free with uniform.
“We would like to thank GHS Principal Adam Hathaway, all of the GHS administration and head coach Wes Tankersley for their continued support of the alumni game,” Sellers said.
According to organizers, tailgating is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Concessions will be available and a disc jockey will be on site. Come out early to enjoy the fellowship and music.
Kickoff at Huff-Mosley Memorial Stadium is set for 7 p.m.