September 14, 2005
Leesburg - In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, high school football is not high on the list of priorities for many victims in Mississippi and Louisiana.
But for one high school sophomore, the chance to get back on a high school football field in this week in south Georgia is just what he needed after Katrina destroyed his family's home in Mississippi.
Hurricane Katrina has taken a lot from so many people along the Gulf Coast. One thing it could not take away from Charles O'Brien was the game of football.
O'Brien said "I love it all a lot. It just exciting to go out hit somebody and you know you are not going to get in any trouble for it."
Charles and his family were in deep trouble during Hurricane Katrina which destroyed their home in Pascagoula.
O'Brien said " The water came up to our neck and we had to jump out the window and get saved by boat."
Charles' journey led him to Lee County where he now lives with his grandparents.
He enrolled in school last week and this week, the 10th grade linebacker joined the football team.
Lee County Head Coach David Johnson "He is excited about playing football and that always makes a coach happy when you have a kid who wants to get out on the field no matter what position he plays. He just wants to get out and play."
Coach Johnson says the Georgia High School Association has ruled that students displaced by Katrina can participate in athletics as long as they were eligible to do so in the state where they lived.
Charles loves football so much that he didn't miss one voluntary workout over the summer at Pascagoula High which lost their first game 38-0 the Friday before Katrina struck.
Charles knows that is new team, which is unbeaten and ranked 10th in the state, is a little better.
O'Brien "I like it here. The football team is great. We are hoping to win state this year. I am hoping to get that ring on my finger."
Believe it or not Pascagoula High is hoping to resume its football schedule in two weeks as teams along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are working to locate players who are still in the area.
Charles it seems has accepted the fact that Lee County may be his team for the rest of his high school career.
O'Brien "I can't take back what has happened so I just have to live out my life the way it is planned out for me."
Charles says he was probably going to play on the junior varsity at Pascagoula High this year. Lee County will host Crisp County on Friday night.