August 21, 2012
In my 15 years as a Gwinnett Daily Post full-timer, I've seen a number of changes in high school sports. A reminder of just how much has changed happens every summer with our ever-expanding high school football preview section.
When I started in 1997, there were 14 high schools who played Georgia High School Association football in Gwinnett — Berkmar, Brookwood, Buford, Central Gwinnett, Collins Hill, Dacula, Duluth, Greater Atlanta Christian, Meadowcreek, Norcross, North Gwinnett, Parkview, Shiloh and South Gwinnett.
Now there are 24. Providence Christian, fielding a junior varsity team this season, will make it 25 very soon. And who knows when Gwinnett County Public Schools will open another new high school.
The 1997 football preview was obviously smaller in page count than the current 56-page spread. Steve Figueroa, then our sports editor, designed the section while Todd Cline and I traveled the county to preview the 14 teams.
Now with 24 teams, we have more writers handling the previews — Brandon Brigman, David Friedlander, Ben Beitzel, Scott Smith and I — while Christine Troyke, with help on the cover and center spread from Nicole Puckett, handle the layout and design. Our team has certainly has grown up since 1997 and so has Brandon — he was still a high school offensive lineman at Shiloh back then.
What hasn't changed since '97 is the amount of work it takes to compile the football section. We've added and tweaked some content over the years (anyone miss the team photos?), which often requires repeated follow-ups with local coaches. Believe it or not, coaches aren't always eager to release a list of projected starters, so that's typically a last-minute addition. Others don't have a roster set until close to our printing date. Some coaches don't like to give heights and weights on players, which I don't understand. Hebron Christian coach Sal Battaglia gave us that info on his kids without issue and his two starting offensive guards average 5-foot-7, 155 pounds.
I think the readers will enjoy the latest edition of our football section, which publishes this Sunday. It's got all the usual content our readers want — preview stories, photos, schedules, rosters and projected starters — with a special centerpiece story on the amazing football talent in Gwinnett's Class of 2013.
We hope you'll pick up a copy this weekend. After you do, please let me know what you think.