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Looking ahead while remembering

I went to the Georgia Dome Saturday, and believe it or not, the hottest topic of conversation among the many coaches and teachers that I ran into may have been Gov. Perdue's declaration that health benefits for teachers, state employees and retirees may be cut out all together. They couldn't believe that a mere month after being reelected and bragging during his campaign of the huge surplus he had created for Georgia that Sonny would even consider such a thing. But that's what Sonny did, or is doing.

Oh well, that's a political topic and not a sports one. I'll have to admit though when the governor showed up Saturday night in Warner Robins' colors, it kinda made me pull for Peachtree Ridge. Is that school not also in Georgia?

I went to the Dome mainly to watch my alma mater, Lincoln County, play Commerce. I'm not a member of the Red Devil Booster Club or anything, but I do enjoy seeing them do well. I mostly enjoy watching sons of many folks that I went to high school with now playing football for the Red Devils.

I can't quite figure out how so many of my classmates still have kids in high school. I thought I was one of the youngest ones in the Class of 1976. Even Billy Beale, Jr., the coach who gave me my first job, has a son playing for the Red Devils. I can attest that Tyler Beale, their starting fullback and defensive end, got his athletic prowess from his mother. She was a heck of a basketball player in high school. I owe Billy a lot for what he did for me, and I have known Luann Beale all of my life, so I like seeing their son do well.

Wade Rhodes was a classmate and the biggest and strongest of our lot. His son Logan starts on the offensive line and is a backup linebacker. Alex Bradford is the son of Bill Bradford and starts at wide receiver. Bill is two years younger than me, but grew up right up the road from me, and his oldest sister was in my class.

Red Devil quarterback Brandon Barden's father, Mike, is one of my oldest friends. We were classmates and played side-by-side on the offensive line. Mike's sister was a very good basketball player, and Brandon's mother, Becky, now their principal, was a good athlete in her younger days. Sorry Mike, but it is apparent that Brandon got his ability on the athletic field from Aunt Ann and his mother. I will say that if Brandon is half the man that his daddy is when it comes to honesty and integrity, he will go far in life. They don't make 'em any better than Mike Barden.

These are just a few of the kids that play for the Red Devils that I feel a kindred spirit with. There have been others over the past few years, and they all were good high school football players. Thirty plus years ago I suppose we never thought about what it would be like when this day arrived.

I have to travel to a family Christmas gathering in York, S.C., this Saturday and likely won't get back to watch these kids play for the state championship. My aunts and uncles are no longer spring chickens, so I can't miss seeing them to go to a football game. You can guess where my mind will be, though. It'll be in that old hometown where the next generation of some good old boys will be seeking to do what their daddies didn't.



Web posted on Thursday, December 14, 2006













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