Force, league on rise
Homeschool football team enters 5th year

Every year since Scott Willis started the Georgia Force high school football team in 2004, the goal has been to grow each year.

As the Force enters its fifth year of competition, that goal seems to be well on its way to being accomplished both for the team, and for its league, the Georgia Football League.

"We're up to nine teams this year," Willis, the Force's founder and coach, said about the GFL. "That's up one from last year. There are two or three more (teams) waiting for next year (to join). And (the Force) are up to 46 varsity players and 13 middle school players.

"We've been growing and trying to keep it going, and we've been growing every year."

The growth of both the league in general and the Force specifically is something that Willis is really happy to see.

It fulfills the vision he had when he founded the Force in 2004 to help the growing number of students who are either home schooled or attend smaller private schools without football programs throughout Gwinnett and Hall counties find a place to play.

And while most of the GFL membership is based in north Georgia, Willis said he is excited to hear of interest from communities and churches throughout other parts of the state.

"Eventually, we'd like (for the GFL) to go state-wide," Willis said. "I know there is a group from Unity Christian Church in Rome, and there's even talk of teams forming in Athens. And I've heard there are people in Macon and Valdosta - people who have a general interest in starting teams."

While the Force - like the GFL - continues to grow in numbers, it may be in need of growth in a different sense this season.

The team has been ultra-successful in its brief history, growing from the first team that played with donated equipment - not to mention a name - from the Arena Football League tenants of the Arena at Gwinnett Center, going 40-6 in four seasons.

However, the Force lost a lot of seniors off a team that was 9-1 and finished as GFL runner-up a year ago, but are hoping to overcome the inexperience to become one of the four teams to qualify for the league playoffs.

"We thought last year might be a rebuilding year," Willis said. "But most of our varsity players (this year) made up our junior varsity team last year. So, this will be a rebuilding year.

"We're putting in a new system to try to utilize our size, or rather our lack of size, to our best advantage."