The first time . . .

Michael Boylan's picture

Fayette County has always been known as a hub for great soccer, at least as far back as I can remember. Every year the title hunt comes through here and the trophy cases at the local schools are proof. For regular followers of the local sports scene though, it is easy to see that there is a new trend of winning traditions in all sports.

As the kids would say, Fayette County teams are representing.

In 2009, we have had the Fayette County Lady Tigers basketball team reach the Class AAAA state final for the second straight year, while Whitewater’s wrestling team won the State Duals Meet.

In the spring, McIntosh’s boys and Whitewater’s girls were state runners-up in soccer and Starr’s Mill’s baseball team placed second to Northgate in their state final.

This fall, Whitewater won the Class AAAA volleyball final and the Lady Wildcats varsity softball team was the state runner-up for the second year in a row.

Our Lady of Mercy’s girls won their second consecutive state title in cross country in Class A.

And now, for the first time in Fayette County history, a local football team has made the state final.

With their semi-final win over Griffin on Friday, the Sandy Creek Patriots have tied Starr’s Mill for the county record for wins in a season with 13.

It is encouraging to see Fayette County getting behind the Sandy Creek team, putting rivalries aside and hoping for a win.

Undoubtedly, playing against tough teams and having rivalry games week in and week out has made each team more competitive. Reaching this point, in any sport, adds legitimacy to the county athletic programs and a win on Friday would be a win for the county.

State championships are all about pomp and circumstance, and I can only imagine what it is like for the biggest sport in high school athletics.

When state championships are played at the high school venue of the home team, the fences are lined with banners from sponsors, there are a few video cameras shooting the game and there is a table with the trophies and a box with visors and t-shirts under the table.

Things get a little bigger when the finals take place in one location and teams from all classifications are battling it out throughout the day. There are more fans around the games and more media and that just adds to the excitement.

This Friday, the biggest game of the year, and what will be the biggest game of their lives for the majority of the players and coaches, is on the field at the Georgia Dome.

This past Saturday, Alabama knocked off Florida on that field and on Sunday Michael Vick haunted his former team as the Eagles beat the Falcons.

Five days later, the Sandy Creek Patriots get to make their mark on the turf. Their images will adorn the giant screens in the endzone, their fans will fill up the lower sections of seats with signs, banners, and those noisy jugs.

The players will enter the field through a tunnel and there will be more action on the sidelines and noise in the stands than they have ever heard.

I can’t wait. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to cover a state football final in my career and I definitely don’t know if, and when, it will ever happen again. I plan on soaking everything in.

Thankfully, I’ll have my laptop open and I’ll be typing away throughout. (If you’re not going to the game, follow it on our websites ( or

The evening will surely be a spectacle.

And yet, the game is still the same game. The field is 100 yards long. Each team still has four downs to go 10 yards and touchdowns are still worth six points apiece. The game, which may feel both timeless and endless, will still only have four 12-minute quarters.

Sandy Creek head coach Chip Walker says it will be business as usual this week and his players are all on message and ready to give their all for the team. They’ll wait for the game to end, hopefully with them sporting visors and t-shirts, before they let the stars settle in their eyes.

login to post comments | Michael Boylan's blog