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April 22, 2013

A Look Ahead: Alumni out to have fun, raise money

Bo Headden is a 1983 graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School and the oldest person on the Bruins alumni football team, which has been practicing in preparation for an upcoming game.

Even with current seniors playing on the team, and an age gap of around three decades, Headden still sees a bond is there.

Northwest and Dalton will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bruin Stadium in Tunnel Hill. It is the third consecutive year the two schools have participated in an alumni football game, with the first year against one another and last season in separate games.

Headden, 47, has played in all of them for Northwest.

“It’s just like you go back in time, like you’re back in high school,” said Headden, who played linebacker for the program in the early 1980s. “It is a rush. It’s an adrenaline rush.”

For the first time, the teams are allowing current seniors to participate. Northwest will have linebackers Trevon Tucker and Jarrod Farmar and running back Chris Tinson. Dalton captain Mike Leonard said no current senior Cats have committed for the game.

With teenagers on the roster, the difference between them and Headden is nearly 30 years.

“We have 40s to 30s to 20s,” he said. “We all get along pretty good. It’s just like any other team. You still have that brotherhood, I guess you could say, of being on the team.

“You bond, especially in high school. You’re out there day after day after day bonding with your teammates.”

In the first year, and for last year’s Northwest game versus Southeast Whitfield, Alumni Gridiron — a California-based, for-profit company that puts on alumni games across the country — did so. Dalton hosted Ringgold last year without the help of the company, and this year’s two games did the same. North Murray, Murray County and Southeast participated in a matchup with Ringgold on Friday at Mountaineer Stadium in Chatsworth.

“The coaches of the current schools now — Josh Robinson from Northwest, Matt Land from Dalton and David Gann from North Murray — all got together and met some time after we did last year’s game,” said Patrick Jones, captain of the Bruins squad. “They felt like it would be better served, as bad as we need money now, that someone from California wasn’t making money off this.”

Jones said “100 percent of the money goes to the schools,” which is the main reason for doing the game.

“First and foremost thing, it’s a thing we wanted to do as a way to generate money and more support for the programs,” he said. “And also to get some of the older guys back around and coming to the games. And it’s also obviously to have fun. We all have jobs and we aren’t going to go out there and kill anybody. But yeah, we want to win, sure.”

Leonard, also in his third year playing the game, said Dalton and Ringgold each made $5,000 off last year’s game.

“With it being Dalton and Northwest, it should be fun,” he added.

Tickets purchased in advance cost $5 and can be bought through any current football player at either school or from any quarterback club member from either school. They’re also available at Lisa’s Cafe and Oakwood Cafe in Dalton. Tickets at the gate will cost $7. All proceeds benefit Northwest’s and Dalton’s football programs.

There also will be a Northwest powder puff game starting at 5 p.m. and is open to any current female Northwest student.

• High school tennis teams that reached their respective state tournaments will play the first rounds this week.

The Murray County girls travel to Wesleyan at 4 p.m. today for the start of the Class 2A playoffs. In Class 3A action, North Murray’s boys will host North Oconee at 4 p.m. today at the Murray County Recreation Department courts.

Both Coahulla Creek teams play their first-round Class 3A matchups on the same day and time and against the same opponent. The squads face North Oconee at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Both Dalton teams will host on Tuesday at Lakeshore Park in the Class 4A bracket. The Catamounts face Grady starting at 4 p.m. while the Lady Cats match up with Banneker with the start time to be decided.

• Track and field teams will be at their sectional meets Saturday.

Murray County competitors will participate at the Class 2A B sectional meet at Greater Atlanta Christian. Coahulla Creek and North Murray will head to the Class 3A A sectional meet at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta. Dalton, Northwest and Southeast will trek down to Carrollton High School for the Class 4A B sectional meet.

Devin Golden is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen, and he thinks there should be a newspaper staff vs. alumni flag football game. He’d do the Deion Sanders high-step for all five of his touchdowns. Contact him at devingolden@daltoncitizen.com.

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