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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Updated: January 5, 3:57 PM ET
Georgia high school tradition

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Georgia: No. 9 pro | No. 11 college | No. 4 high school

By Jason Park

Jason Park

You hit it right on the head with Georgia high school football. It is the best of the rest.

Georgia football has tradition and roots dating back generations. Daughters become cheerleaders in the same stadiums where their fathers played. Younger brother in the stands looks forward to following in big brother's footsteps, much to the chagrin of the nail-biting mother.

Schools such as Brookwood, Thomas County Central, Valdosta, Marietta and Colquitt County provide the best viewings of "Friday Night Lights" and it all starts with their coaches. Teachers of the game such as Dexter Woods and Jim Dorsey parade the sideline grooming the next generation of player and coach. Coach Cecil Flowe, at legendary Parkview, had his Panthers team on the front of a Wheaties box after a state record 46-game winning streak. These coaches, and many others, over the years have produced some of the finest athletes to make it to the top.

If you look down the halls of Georgia high schools, you will find a collection of retired jerseys once belonging to some of the greatest players to make it to the highest level. Current NFL stars like Adam "Pac-Man" Jones, Keith Brooking and Jamal Lewis got their starts in Georgia. Former NFL stars Fran Tarkenton, Kevin Butler and Jessie Tuggle learned their trade here as well. Let's not forget about ESPN alum Sterling Sharpe and current ESPN college football commentator Bill Curry, each of whom began his football career in the state of Georgia.

You don't have to look at NFL rosters or history books to see the true talent on the Georgia fields. You can see that here and now. Future stars like Caleb King, Eric Berry, Allen Bailey, Josh Nesbitt, Chris Little and Jonathon Dwyer will be bringing their "A" games to the largest venues in the college ranks next year.

The strongest conference in the NCAA has benefited from some of Georgia's best sons. SEC schools are filled with the best of Georgia. UGA wins the state every year, but Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, and even Florida look for talent in Georgia. Starters like Tray Blackmon (Auburn), Jamie Christensen (Alabama), Blake Mitchell (South Carolina), and Tra Battle (Georgia) are just a few of the many who continue today to improve upon their craft that they started back in their high school days.

The Falcons get the air time, and Georgia Tech and UGA bring in all the money, but if you ask where true football talent is grown, people down here will tell you that it is cultivated on the same Georgia red clay that brings out its famous peaches, and I don't mean our beautiful women.

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