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A local seventh-grade football player will travel to Texas for the U.S. Army Bowl
Dawson County Middle School seventh-grade football player Nate Grizzle will be traveling to Frisco, Texas next week to participate in the U.S. Army Bowl Middle School All-Star championship. - photo by Rio White

It is not every day that a Dawson County athlete — much less a middle schooler — gets the chance to represent the entire state of Georgia at a competition. 

But that’s exactly what seventh-grade football player Nate Grizzle earned the opportunity to do, as he will travel to Frisco, Texas next week to represent an all-Georgia team in the U.S. Army Bowl Middle School All-Star Championship.

(Story continues below)

After working his way through training camps around the Atlanta area, Grizzle was initially selected to the North Cobb regional team in late October before being placed on the all-state team following his performance in a recent scrimmage game. 

Through a combination of his physical skills and character traits, he was chosen as part of an elite group of young Georgia athletes who will compete with similarly gifted players from other states.

“I’m pretty excited because this is a once in a lifetime thing to do,” Grizzle said. “My favorite part about learning [at camp] was that I can come back here to Dawson County and when the football season starts, I will be a whole lot better of an athlete.”

While at the Atlanta-area training camps, Grizzle experienced a level of intensity from coaches and fellow athletes that helped elevate his own abilities.

Knowing that he was surrounded by such an immense amount of football experience helped motivate him to perform at his very best.

Grizzle noted that the effort shown by each player at the camps was just as important to the coaches as the skills shown. 

“I had to show them what I could do and pay close attention,” Grizzle said. “Listening was really important [as well as] hustling off the field and not walking around.”

During the past middle school football season at DCMS, Grizzle was coached by both his father Rusty Grizzle and head coach Andrew Grigsby, who have each served to help Nate build his skills and work ethic.

Grigsby described Nate as a consistently hard worker who has been a force on the football field since his youngest days. 

“Nate is a competitor. He goes after it as hard as any kid I’ve ever coached,” Grigsby said. “I’ve never asked him to do anything that he’s not given 100% to do. I’m happy to see that hard work is paying off for him.”

One way that Grizzle was able to compete at a high level during the training camps was through the help of Dawson County High School football player Dom LeBlanc. 

While Grizzle primarily plays running back, he was also tested at the cornerback position in the Atlanta camps. Prior to that, he trained alongside LeBlanc, focusing on footwork and hip movement to help prepare him.

Now that he has made it to the big show, Grizzle looks forward to playing alongside the elite talent. He hopes that his experience in Texas will be a first step toward college coaches keeping track of his talent over the next few years.

“I look up to some of the kids down there. It’s a whole different world,” Grizzle said. “I look forward to next year getting some colleges to start noticing me at a young age. My [team Georgia] quarterback...already has some colleges starting to look at him.”

Grizzle and the Georgia team will have the opportunity to play as many as three games down in Frisco, but will need to win the first two to reach the final championship game.

The team will travel to Texas on Monday, Dec. 12, and will be there for the entire week.