Kyle Franklin found himself without a home and without a school in the days after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Boothville-Venice, La. area, south of New Orleans on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Kyle was the quarterback and leader of his Boothville-Venice Oiler team, but the hurricane changed all that. His father lives in Thomson and provided a place for Kyle and his brother to live after the storm stole their lives.
Kyle Franklin walks the sidelines during Thomson High's game against Cross Creek.
That move put a smile on the face of Thomson Coach Luther Welsh.
"When they evacuated, they had to have a place to go, and I guess they're just fortunate that they had a father living here. So it was a place for them to go," Coach Welsh said. "But they lost everything. The only thing he had was what he had on when it hit."
Kyle began practicing at wide receiver with the Bulldogs Monday after being cleared by the Georgia High School Association. He will make his black-and-gold debut against Harlem and is glad to be a part of the team.
"It's a good opportunity for me because it's my senior year. So after this there wasn't any more football for me," Kyle said. "So I'm just grateful that I can play."
Coach Welsh was glad things worked out like they did in spite of the terrible circumstances. He said having a wide receiver with the talent of Kyle could free up the run and make a huge difference to the offense that has struggled this season.
"He's got pretty good speed, really. He's got good hands, and the thing about it is he can jump." Coach Welsh said. "It will help us tremendously. At least we can get a pass completed I hope, and if you do that, they're going to have to back off a little bit."
Kyle, who started at quarterback, prefers to play wide receiver. He said being able to return to the position he's best at is a very positive thing.
"I'm better at receiver than any other position," Kyle said. "I was just playing quarterback because I was the athlete on the team, so the coaches put me there."
Getting used to the size of Thomson High School and the size of the team are two major adjustments Kyle has had to make after moving. He said coming to Thomson was "culture shock" after calling the single-A Boothville-Venice home.
"I'm not used to this. This is a big team," he said. "Where I'm from we dress out like 20."
Though he is thankful for the opportunity to play at THS, Kyle is disappointed that Katrina took his senior year of football away from him.
"Who wouldn't be disappointed, you know?" he said. "I've been playing football for four years, and for something like this to happen to take my team and year away from me. This could have happened when I was a freshman, and I probably wouldn't feel so bad."
As for returning home, Kyle said that still may be months away. He wishes the rest of the Katrina survivors well, but he knows his hometown will never be the same.
"My house is still under water, so we really can't go back there until like January," Kyle said. "So I hope everybody's all right and everybody finds their family."
One thing is for sure, football has given him a hint of stability during this transient time in his life. And for that, Kyle is raring to snap on his helmet and do his best.
"Before the storm came, I only got to play one game, and that was the jamboree," he said. "I'm just ready to get on the field and do something."