Today's interviewee is Jason Lewis, the owner of a Thomasville insurance company and an avid high school football fan. Lewis estimates that he has attended more than 700 high school football games in Georgia since the 1970s. He and "a group of 10 or so friends" travel to games throughout the state. They'll be attending the Dublin-Thomasville game tonight in Thomasville, then make their annual trek to Atlanta for the state finals next week.
Jason Lewis, avid high school football fan
1. What's the history of the "group of 10 or so?" How did it form? "We started in 1994 attending the state semifinals in the Georgia Dome. We have a tradition where we go up on Thursday night and then attend games on Friday and Saturday. We are there before the opening kickoff and don't leave until the lights are turned out. We attend a high school game every week and have been doing it since 1992. My father [Tony], a high school football historian, has been attending games since the late 1960s and can tell you plays from games back then. It's amazing the knowledge he has about the game. I guess I can say it is in our genes."
2. Why do you do it? What do you enjoy so much about high school football? "I love high school sports because it represents community. The school name on the front of that jersey. Kids competing for their school, community and family. I don't understand people that don't get behind their local teams that are representing them and where they live. I can't explain it, but you can't beat 8 o'clock Friday nights in the fall. People live for this time of year down in South Georgia. It is like getting up brushing your teeth. Going to games is a way of life."
3. What are some of the best places you've been, as far as atmosphere for a high school game? "The state of Georgia is blessed with so many great places to watch high school sports. In 1993 when Thomas County Central and Thomasville played for the state title, it was a sight to behold. In 1994 in the Georgia Dome when Valdosta played Southwest DeKalb was special also. Valdosta punted the ball, and the ghosts of Cleveland Field found their way to Atlanta and stopped that punt on the 1-yard line, which resulted in Valdosta getting a safety. Wildcats ended up winning the game 40-37. In 1990, Cairo visited Worth County for a South Georgia state title showdown. I remember the game started at 8, and when the gates opened at 5, it was like a stampede. People were running around the track getting the seats, being general admission. That was one electric night in Sylvester, with Cairo winning 37-28."
4. What is the most memorable game you've watched, and why? "No doubt it was the 1987 game between Central and Thomasville. That night, you had quarterback Charlie Ward going against quarterback Sean Jones. In addition to that, Eric Curry played in this game. That was an electric night at Veterans Memorial Stadium in front of 10,000-plus. Central prevailed 35-21. Combined there were six all-state players on the field that night." [Ward at Florida State, Jones at Georgia Tech and Curry at Alabama would go on to lead college teams to national titles.]
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