It’s not quite Alabama-Auburn, but at one time the Brookwood-Parkview rivalry was the biggest in the state of Georgia for high school football.
It began to get hot in 1987 when Dave Hunter became the football coach at Brookwood, then a school in its sixth year of existence. At the time, Brookwood didn’t have a stadium and was playing its home games at Parkview. The first time a Hunter-coached Brookwood team played Parkview they won (27-8) in ’87, but lost a nail-biter the following year (15-14).
“What a rivalry,’’ Hunter said. “A rivalry is no good unless both sides win some. Brookwood, the school, broke off from Parkview, so everyone knew each other, and we won the first time, and then they came back the next year and beat us. There was a lot of swapping back and forth, and then it got really hot in ’97.’’
That year the Broncos won the Class AAAA state championship, going to Valdosta, which had won 22 state championships, and beating the Wildcats 45-24. But interestingly, Brookwood opened the season with their only two losses, to Valdosta (31-28) in the Corky Kell Classic and then to Parkview (21-14). The Broncos would come back the next season and beat the Panthers 10-7.
“What was crazy at the rivalry was I remember one year we were playing at our place, and there was 10,000 fans in the stands and it was raining, and it was 6:30 (p.m.),’’ said Hunter. “I have a lot of respect for those guys over there.”
In his 15 seasons at Brookwood, Hunter was 7-6 against Parkview (schools in different sub-regions in ’92 and ’93) and retired in 2001, just about the time that the Panthers were being led by one of the greatest high school players ever in Georgia, Jeff Francoeur. Hunter was 1-3 against the four teams that Francoeur played on.
“Jeff was one of the better high school leaders I have ever seen,’’ said Hunter. “I called him the pied piper because he would come running down the field during warmups and everyone just followed him. He also is a solid citizen with outstanding character and could put his team on his shoulders.’’