November 30, 2005
Albany - If you watch the 2005 Dougherty High team play this year, there are times when you want to rub your eyes and think you are watching the 1998 Dougherty squad that won the state AAA title.
The two teams have alot in common though there is one thing this year's squad can do that the 1998 team didn't.
It was a cold December night in 1998, Dougherty beat Peach County 27-7 to win the school's first state football title.
In the stands watching that championship victory were many of the players who will play Peach County for the 2005 state football title this Saturday night.
Senior running back Xavier Cheevers said "All I remember is standing in the cold. Being up there in blankets cheering for the team.
Quarterback Ronnye Nelson said "I remember the score being 7-7 at halftime. I don't know what coach John Reynolds told them but they came out on fire in the second half."
Defensive lineman Tyree Blakley didn't make it to Fort Valley that night but he remembers that season.
Blakely said "I just look back to '98 and hope we can do the same thing."
The similiarities between the two teams are many. Right down to the number four worn by quarterbacks Uyl Joyner in '98 and Ronnye Nelson this season.
It is no accident Nelson wears number four since Joyner has served as his role model under center.
Nelson siad "He showed me how to lead by example and be a better leader. Also he is very emotional and I try to carry my team the way he did his team."
And on Saturday night the wish for all of the Dougherty players who were in the stands in Fort Valley seven years ago will be granted when they get the chance to play for a state championship.
Cheevers said I was always wanted to play for the maroon and white. So here is my chance so I am just trying to step up."
There could be one big difference between these two teams.
The '98 Dougherty team set the school record with 13 wins.
This year's team tied that record with their win over Shaw and will break with a win Saturday against Peach County.