ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic devastated Dougherty County.
Nearly 3,900 people in the area contracted the virus within 9 months.
Businesses shut down, schools sent students home and the community was closed off forced to social distance.
Friday night, a look at how those trials strengthened one team and what an 0-5 record can’t tell us.
Dougherty High’s football team, fighting to reclaim gridiron glory after 12 years of losses
Freshman Quarterback Kameron Davis said, “Everybody always says, ‘Oh, Dougherty isn’t the team, they don’t get along.’”
With three different head coaches in the past four seasons, the Trojans are known more for their lack of discipline and lack of consistency than its wins.
But, this is a team determined to change the narrative.
Sophomore Defensive End, Stantavious Smith said, “It’s just different, this is a different Dougherty High.”
“This team is better than what everybody was saying about this team in the city,” said Davis.
Sophomore Safet, Daymon Polite said, “I got a lot of hope because of how we stayed together through the whole pandemic and quarantine. We stayed like a family, acted like a family.”
In March, COVID-19 crippled the Good Life City.
But by June the Trojans were back to work and ready for a win despite facing some of the strictest safety guidelines in Georgia.
Two months later, sidelined.
Dougherty County School System postponed all fall sports as coronavirus cases climbed in the community.
A decision that meant the team would miss the first *five* games of the regular season.
“Being a coach, that frustrates you because you want to get your team prepared. You want to be bigger, faster, stronger. / But from the father’s perspective, you know you have to do the things to make sure the kids are safe,” said Gilbert.
Within seven days, another blow.
The first case of COVID hit DCSS athletics.
“My grandma had it, it was a tough time seeing that she had the COVID. I couldn’t see her as much as I wanted to, had to talk to her on the phone, through the door, stuff like that. Seeing her cry, it was a heartbreak,” said Davis.
Like many of his teammates, the first-year quarterback needed an escape something to bring light to dark times.
They found what they needed on the field.
“That was my way of staying out of trouble, just being on the field makes me a better person,” said Davis.
The Trojans came together for the joy of the game, even when the 2020 season didn’t feel or look likely.
Eventually, the Trojans took the field for five games.
While a win was never secure the program won in many other ways.
“As a football coach, you can teach the X’s and O’s, you can teach techniques, you can teach fundamentals. You can’t teach want too, and I think these guys have that mindset of want too. They want to make Dougherty High School a good football team. They want to make Dougherty High School’s record better than what it has been in the past. So, they want to is what I take away from this group that will be doing a great job for the years to come,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert is returning for year number three and told me he’s eager to see what’s in store for this team in 2021.