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Dooley enjoys atmosphere at Briarwood football game

Vince Dooley enjoyed himself.

And so did those who got the opportunity to talk with him during his visit to Briarwood Academy last Friday.

"This is a great atmosphere; a great community football game and I'm enjoying myself," said Dooley during an exclusive interview with The McDuffie Mirror . "It's wonderful to just sit down and talk with people at a high school football game. It's something I haven't been able to do a whole lot of in my lifetime."

The former head football coach and athletic director at the University of Georgia was the special guest of the Briarwood Athletic Booster Club. His visit to Briarwood Academy was his first ever.

"I love this atmosphere, I really do," said Dooley. "Everybody is so nice, good down-home type people. I like being around people like this. It's great to see all the little kids. This has been a real good experience."

After eating a barbecue chicken dinner, Dooley was led to the football field where he posed for photographs with Briarwood and Piedmont football players, coaches and even game officials.

Dooley later addressed the Buccaneers with pre-game comments. He urged them to do their best at all times and that no matter how the game ended, if they gave their best, that's all anyone could ask of them. He also flipped the coin during the pre-game ceremony and was introduced to team captains and game officials. Briarwood's team captains for the game were Steven Gunn and Blake Sowell.

"This may very well be the first time I've ever flipped the coin before a game," remarked Dooley.

Jeff Brooks, the person responsible for getting Dooley to visit the small private school in Warren County, explained that he and Dooley went quail hunting together back in February in Cordele, Ga. The event was sponsored by Quail Unlimited.

"We had a real good time down there," said Brooks, a Warren County resident and businessman, whose son and daughter attend Briarwood Academy. "It was a great time."

Brooks called Dooley "a real good shot."

Dooley said he tries to go bird hunting about twice a year.

"I enjoy hunting birds," said Dooley, who earlier sold several of the books he has written or co-written in the school gym. Those who purchased one or more his books received an autograph from the legendary college football coach, who first came on the stage as Georgia's head coach in 1964.

Dooley, who was in the Marine Corps from 1954 through 1956 following the end of the Korean War talked about how the sound of gunfire back then made him hit the deck.

"I'd hear gunfire and I'd hit the deck," recalled Dooley, who decided to join the Marine Reserves after two years of active duty. "I stayed in the Reserves for eight years."

Dooley's visit to Briarwood Academy was especially a treat for Pat Collins, who played for Dooley at Georgia from 1975-1979.

"It was great playing for a man like coach Dooley," said Collins, who was the Bulldogs' defensive rover back his junior and senior years at Georgia. "I played for coach Erk Russell, too. I'll never forget what those two men taught me -- not just about football, but about the game of life."

Today, Collins is in the wholesale flower business and lives in Thomson. His son, Jeff, is a sophomore at Briarwood Academy.

"It was great seeing coach Dooley here at Briarwood Academy," added Collins, a season ticket holder at Georgia. "Vince Dooley is a detailed man. He was always firm, but fair."

Web posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010

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