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Everett head coach excited about co-op opportunity

Dave Lightner

The Everett football program announced Thursday it is entering into a co-op with Southern Fulton, starting with this season.

“There were talks between Southern Fulton and our new AD Chris McCahan about this,” Everett high school football coach Dave Lightner said. “Chris approached me about it, and I thought it would be a great idea. Anything to boost football around our area and boost numbers is a positive thing.”

Southern Fulton, which competes in the Inter-County Conference along with Everett in other sports, does not have a football program.

“We last played football in the late 90s or early 2000s in a co-op with James Buchanan,” Southern Fulton athletic director Kent Hendershot said. “Since then, our kids haven’t been able to play football.”

The combination of changing numbers and a relatively new athletic director and football coach at Everett played roles in the decision.

“I’ve been chewing on Everett’s ears for the last few years, especially because we’ve had such a successful wrestling co-op,” Hendershot said. “We do have some kids that have interest, but it was always a numbers thing. They didn’t want to take us on and then that would bump them up. I think finally their numbers stabilized and ours have decreased a little bit, so taking us on was not as big of a deciding factor as it used to be.”

The schools are about 30 miles away from each other, which could slow the process.

“We’re really excited,” Hendershot said. “Like anything else, it will take a couple years to establish the momentum and get it going. It is a tough decision for kids, because neither school is providing any transportation to get to Everett every day. It will be on the kids and their parents to take on that responsibility. With time and strength in numbers, we can establish car pools and things like that to make it more feasible for the parents and less intrusive into their daily schedules.”

The Warriors went 2-8 last season after enjoying one of their most successful seasons in years in 2018. Everett finished 8-4 and won a District 5 Class 2A playoff game that season. The team will remain at 2A despite the co-op for now, but it is possible that could change in the future.

Lightner is hoping Thursday’s decision helps get the Warriors back on track, even if it takes some time.

“Everything is a process, and we have to be patient with everything,” Lightner said. “We’ll be trying to recruit those kids as much as possible as well as kids in our own school to come out. It’s kind of hard with the COVID-19 thing going on. Normally, I’d be going to Southern Fulton and talking to the kids, but right now I have to rely on social media and word of mouth. It’s a difficult situation right now, and things may not come to fruition this year, but hopefully down the road we get more interest and more numbers.”

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