Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blue Herons, Long on Heart and Success

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blue Herons, Long on Heart and Success

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, The Times-Union

Ralph Nader will be the next president.

If you think this is not possible, you must not know that Brantley County High School's Blue Herons are winning football games. It's just that kind of year.

The term mighty Blue Herons formerly meant the Herons were mighty blue, as in sad and sorrowful.

Since its inception in 1971, the school has had only one winning season, going 5-4 in 1987 when they played only nine games. The best they could do in any official 10-game season was four 5-5 years between 1982 and 1986. The 1997 team was undefeated in a non-region schedule against marginal competition. The long bus rides were tougher than some of the games.

The school's trophy case is loaded with glittering hardware from softball, baseball, golf, track, forestry, academic and literary guild competitions. In fact, Brantley County was the Class AA state champs in boys and girls golf this year. But there's not one shiny football behind the glass.

This team, though, is already assured of a winning season and that has captured the imagination of the rural county with only two traffic lights.

The signs in the windows at Carter's Fried Chicken promote the Johnson Pond Hunting Club turkey shoot, goats for sale and a reward for a missing dog and her pup. Inside there's a little shrine to this year's team with pictures and a tally of wins and losses.

It's always been hard to win football games in Brantley County and there have been some awful dismal years including starting the 21st century with a 24-game losing streak. Football is a game of speed nowadays, and Brantley County has had some players through the years you could time with a bottle of cane syrup.

Third-year coach Sean Pender says this team is still short on speed, but it's long on heart and that stuff called desire. …

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