I graduated from Mill Creek High School in 2006, a two-time letterman in football. It seems like yesterday that I was taking that long bus ride after school to the old Norcross stadium for Mill Creek's first practices.
I still remember the excitement leading the student section counting down the final seconds against Forsyth Central at our house in 2004 - our first win. I remember the sweet taste of revenge at Athens Academy in 2005 when our defense claimed three touchdowns of our own. I remember the heartache at Franklin County in 2005 when the winning touchdown pass fell out of our hands as the last second removed itself from the clock.
During my two years at Mill Creek, I was an emotional player. I played with all I had when I was on the field and kept my team and the crowd positive while I was on the sidelines. The men I played with were my brothers then, and I still consider them brothers today.
We worked hard and played hard. We were a great team both years, but our records didn't show it. I took a job at the school finishing the stadium seating between my junior and senior years. Following my graduation, I joined my dad, Don Neff, and my brother, Thor, on the paint crew, helping paint the practice field and the game field for home games.
That only lasted one season. Near the end of the 2006 regular season, I signed my contract with the U.S. Army. I enlisted as a military policeman since law enforcement is a career I plan to pursue in the years following my Army career.
I bring the same passion to law enforcement that I brought to the field. Now, two years after graduating from high school, I find myself on my first deployment in Afghanistan as a gunner. My family sends me care packages on a regular basis, and sometimes I receive copies of the Braselton News and the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Because of this, I don't have to miss out entirely on Mill Creek sports. Keeping up with my school's progress has been a big thing for me since I graduated. I'm thankful for all the coverage done on Mill Creek.
I enjoy reading up on the progress the Hawks have made since 2006 when I have down time between missions. All of them are done well, as was a recent column about the volunteers that paint our field by Todd Cline.
Thank you again for making it possible for me to keep track of my boys on the gridiron from halfway across the world.