November 25, 2013

Davidson releases second volume chronicling Catamount football

By Lindsey Derrick
Dalton Public Schools

— “Catamounts! The Glorious History of Dalton Football Volume 2” is now available for purchase.

This is the second of two installments on the history of Dalton High football written by Randal Davidson. The first volume came out last September, and the second volume was released the last week of October.

Davidson, who was born in the Augusta area, moved to Dalton in 1995 to take a position with the local radio station. He later also took a position at Dalton High teaching IB and AP history and has remained ever since.

The idea for the books first came about when Davidson simply wondered when football began in Dalton. He began looking at microfilm at the Dalton State library and just kept going.

“I was crazy enough to start writing it,” Davidson said of the first book. “I get obsessed if I do something.”

If information could not be found at local libraries, he would travel to libraries in nearby cities such as Rome and LaFayette. Once the research was done, it took Davidson a decade to piece it all together. When he began writing the book, he quickly realized that there was just too much information, so in June 2012, he decided to split it all into two volumes.

“It was to be one book, but there was no possible way,” Davidson said.

The second volume covers the years 1970-2012. Davidson also included photos in the back of the book that range from the first-ever Dalton High team in 1924 to Kiko Rodri-guez’s game winning field goal against Northwest this season.

Just like the first volume, the second installment has history woven into the pages as well. Some events covered in the books were the Hotel Dalton fire, the DHS gym burning down and — in the new volume — the story of a female basketball player who died of a heart attack during practice in 1970.

Davidson said in a way, this book was easier to research but harder to write.

“The first one was a lot of little nuggets. I got excited about finding a score,” he said. “There was so much for this book, and I had to decide what to leave in and what not to leave in. There were no gaps, but the detail I found was remarkable. I have thousands of photos from the last fifteen years.”

With the second volume, Davidson said he’s getting a lot of readers telling him that he helped sparked memories of days gone by.

“I gave a signed copy to Coach Land, and he was going on about what he’d forgotten,” Davidson said. “That’s what I’m getting from people. They’re seeing classmates and putting these memories together.”

One thing that made the second volume difficult was the fact that some of these games and events are still fresh on his mind.

“Some things get personal,” Davidson said. “It’s very difficult, because you get emotional and angry and regretful, and it’s difficult to decide how to write about that.”

Davidson said the touchiest subject for him to write about was Dalton’s use of an ineligible player in 2011, and he “took care to be diplomatic to the local schools.” Dalton was forced to forfeit four victories that season after a linebacker transferred to Dalton from Southeast Whitfield. The player was ruled ineligible by the Georgia High School Association.

“It was a unique opportunity to chronicle something,” Davidson said of his books. “To me, it was a neat opportunity to leave something that probably never would have been done. There’s no question how significant and important it is to people.”

Davidson has other book ideas in his head, but as of now, he’s taking a step back from writing due to his full plate — along with his teaching position and calling DHS football games for 104.5 FM, he is now also the radio announcer for the Dalton State basketball team.

So what exactly is Dalton High football? Davidson said Catamount football has layers. It’s more than a crisp Friday night at Harmon Field. It’s a grandson wearing his grandfather’s number that he donned 50 years earlier. It’s having people from other cities knowing who the Dalton Catamounts are. It’s having to deal with those that make comments about the legacy of the program.

“When you hear people making disparaging remarks about your tradition, they don’t have it,” he said. “If they did, they would understand.”

In rummaging through the thousands of photos for the second book, Davidson found a photo that perhaps best sums up Dalton football—the photo was taken in the 2000s and features three players sitting on the bench together. All three of those players now coach at Dalton High.

“My wife said, ‘Now that’s how you build a program.’”

“Catamounts! The Glorious History of Dalton Football Volume 2” is $28 and can be bought at the Oakwood Cafe, First Bank of Dalton, Shears of Dalton and daltonfootball.com.