North Hall senior kicker Luke Brown is preparing for a storybook season after suffering a myriad of injuries in 2020
In fact, each of the last two games has come with an unforgettable memory, which helps the Trojans go neck-to-neck with Cherokee Bluff (5-0, 1-0) as the top two regional title contenders.
In Week 5, Brown stepped in and drilled a 43-yard field-winning goal against Chestatee – a kick with enough leg that it probably would have been true from 60.
“As soon as that happened my teammates trained a bunch of dogs on me,” Brown said. “It was crazy. It’s my best memory of my high school career.
He stressed that a lot of credit for the kicking success goes to incumbent Bradford Puryear, who is also the starting quarterback and starting left fielder for the reigning Class 3A baseball state champions.
And last week the outcome of the game was never in question, but Brown netted a 51-yard goal against West Hall which benefited from a fortuitous bounce off the bottom of the goal post that rebounded for 3 points.
Bishop said Brown’s 51 yards was the longest successful kick in his 20 years with the school, but was not sure it was an academic record for the program dating back to 1958.
Bishop isn’t just proud of Brown for the tangible impact he’s had on the pitch for North Hall.
The North Hall coach was there, trying to pick up his kicker, after his initial leg injury was repaired, but a developing back problem was never treated.
In 2020, Brown said the season opener against Paulding County was the only time in the entire season he had felt 100%.
Then the sharp back pain started to manifest itself, quickly becoming clear, it was not something he could just get over.
When the pain was at its worst, Brown said he could only score short field goals and extra points, far from having the highlight reel that would grab the attention of top colleges.
At the end of the season, Brown was completely unable to play as a junior against Dawson County.
Bishop could sense that Brown’s confidence was starting to wane.
They’ve had a lot of one-on-one conversations about just doing your best to kick.
“I saw Luke get very uncomfortable,” Bishop said. “I would say to him, ‘All you can do is do your best. We will support you, no matter what.
Brown absorbed Bishop’s words.
He loved football too much not to do everything imaginable to have a great senior season.
So after the 2020 season ended, the North Hall kicker didn’t touch a soccer ball for about five months, giving his ailing back time to heal.
Then, in the spring, he began to regain his self-confidence, little by little.
Placement attempts lengthened for Brown.
And they sailed most of the time.
Brown had a particularly good day on Tuesday.
Starting with kicks of about 40 yards, he nailed them with ease.
For his last attempts, he landed the ball on the midfielder’s logo – 60 yards – and the second went through the uprights.
Brown said this was only the second time he has been good in 60 years in training.
The precision of the Trojans makes the strategy easy for Bishop on the fourth down with the ball in the opposition 35.
In the second preseason game, Brown drilled a three-footer at Flowery Branch, with plenty of room to spare.
“I feel like if we get to 35 we’re going to shoot for a field goal,” Bishop said.
Brown’s success has not gone unnoticed outside of Hall County.
On Saturday, he will be a guest prospect, along with highly recruited teammate Jeremiah Telander, at the University of Georgia for the game against Arkansas.
He’s thrilled to have the opportunity to take the field before the game and mingle with some of the players, including North Hall graduate Dan Jackson, who now regularly plays free safety for the Bulldogs.
Unlike junior linebacker Telander, Brown doesn’t realistically expect a scholarship offer from Georgia.
However, there’s no school Brown prefers to play for than Georgia.
He’s been following the Bulldogs since he was around 3 or 4, meaning his first Bulldog exposure would have been around the 2007 season, when Georgia demolished Hawaii at the Sugar Bowl.
Yet football is only part of the life of this passionate outdoor enthusiast.
He is an exemplary student, taking a plethora of IB courses at North Hall and has a GPA of 4.35.
If he continues and attends the University of Georgia, and is fortunate enough to be able to play football as well, his major will be either meteorology or atmospheric sciences.
Cherokee Bluff vs. West Hall
Chestatee vs. North Oconee
East Hall vs. Jefferson
North Hall vs. White County
Gainesville to Lambert
Johnson in Walnut Grove
Lakeview Academy vs Fellowship Christian
Lanier Christian at Victory Baptist
Riverside Military v Union County