Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mountain View senior running back Marvin Elam is a four-year varsity player for the bears.
At 8, Marvin Elam prepared to be a Falcon. By middle school he looked to be a Hawk. Once he started high school, he went from bird to Bear.
And he never moved.
As Gwinnett County swelled with people and high schools popped up to fill the hordes of students, the district lines around Elam kept moving and so did his high school. Elam entered Mountain View as part of the school's first freshman class.
"I was thinking (growing up) about going to Mill Creek," Elam said. "Coming to a new (school) was pretty hard, mostly just trying to get used to it. After a while, things started flowing."
Lopsided scores and early struggles are part of opening a new program but Elam didn't bolt for established schools. Rather, the running back embraced his chance to be a Bear.
"(I wanted to) come in, our inaugural year, the first year and just (set) the tone for all the classes coming in," Elam said.
Now, four years later, Elam leads the first four-year senior class at Mountain View and he must adapt to more changes with a new head coach in Doug Giacone.
"We've known him all four years," Elam said of the former assistant promoted after the school's first head coach Tim Hardy left for GAC. "We all were used to him and we all love him.
"There is a lot more intensity in practice. He just brings more hype to the game."
In those four years first as an assistant and now as the head coach, Giacone learned plenty about Elam.
"It's been really neat getting to see Marvin grow and mature over the past couple of years," Giacone said. "He started as part of our first team four years ago. It's amazing how much he's grown both physically and just as a young man."
Elam started football at 8 and always was a runner. He tried out cornerback and, one year, a coach tried him at quarterback.
I really didn't like (quarterback) that much," Elam said. "I am a running back, that's what I love to do, it just came natural to me."
As a junior, Elam rushed for more than 700 yards with 10 touchdowns in 10 games for the Bears, averaging 76.4 yards per game. A physical runner, Elam relies on his strength to break tackles and has enough speed when needed.
"Marvin is an explosive kid," Giacone said. "He's probably one of the strongest kids on our team. We are expecting really big things out of Marvin. With more of an option-based offense (he's going to get more opportunities)."
In two games this season, Elam's average is up to 81 yards a game and he's scored two touchdowns. He's got a college offer from Buffalo and is also talking to Middle Tennessee State University.
But when Elam talks, he speaks of his time at Mountain View not in terms of yards or touchdowns, or even wins.
"It's been a challenge the past couple of years, with our record," Elam said. "It's been a Fun road and a chance to learn.
"(We're) just being together, staying together as a family. We don't let anything come between that."