Their jerseys say they’re from Gainesville, but soon the adult full contact football team will be known as the North Georgia Gladiators.
“The only reason our shirts say Gainesville is because we practice there,” said Thomas Stowers, who played for Dawson County High School before moving on to several semi-pro teams the last eight seasons.
“If you draw a circle with all the North Georgia towns our players are from, Dawsonville would be right in the middle.”
With home games at Dawson County Veterans Memorial Park, playing at the park “is like coming back home” for Stowers.
“When I played for the Dawson County Public Safety team, that’s the field we practiced on three, four times a week,” said Stowers, who added he enjoyed the loyal following the team has found the last few seasons. “It’s a lot of fun playing for the people, especially when it’s people you know.”
Stowers said he’s never played for a better team, whose roster was revamped this year with fresh, young and hungry talent.
“There’s no reason we can’t win every game we have left this season and make the playoffs in May,” he said.
Coach Nate Stephens, who formed the team with his brother Matt Dyer in 2008 and is now working to bring the team to Dawson County permanently, has seen success both years the team has played together.
Stephens said the team is stacked with some very promising, talented players who have potential to take their football careers farther if the right tools are in place.
Stephens, who works in sports scouting, formed the team with the purpose to give young men an opportunity to continue their playing careers after their high school days are over.
“There are between 1,700 and 1,800 out of the millions that want to play that are talented enough to play in higher leagues, and there’s a reason they didn’t make it even with the talent,” Stephens said. “We strive to not only continue their education on the football field, but to also continue a positive influence on their everyday life, by encouraging them to pursue their dreams.”
Bo Harris, a former top recruit from the state of Georgia who played for Auburn, is one of those players.
“He’s about the best I’ve seen come through. He could have played for the NFL,” said Stephens, adding Harris will probably move next year to the European Football League.
But Stephens said it’s not just about football.
“The guys on the team are all between the 18- to 26-year-old range, the years that are the most influential years in a young man’s life,” Stephens said. “We offer and give them structure and hope to make an impact in their lives.”
The Gladiators next home game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 3 at Veterans Memorial Park against the Upstate Titans.
For more information or tickets, call (678) 410-0818.