ALBANY -- They're calling it "Trojan Football Parents, Community and Friends Day,'' and if you don't know what that means, just ask Dougherty High School football coach Jesse Hicks, who wants to build more than a football program at Dougherty.
"I want to bring people back to our football program, back to the east side. I want to bring pride to the east side of Albany, pride to our community. I think our football program can be the blueprint for everyone to follow,'' said Hicks, who took over the program last fall and went 2-8 in his first season.
Hicks came to Dougherty after having a tremendous amount of success at Baldwin High in Milledgeville, where he did the same thing: got the community involved. And he believes the same kind of success can mushroom at Dougherty. That's why Hicks has come up with a day for everyone to get together at the school, where he hopes the program and the community can embrace the Trojans' football program like never before.
It's free to the public, and Hicks wants "everyone from the mayor to the people on the custodial crew'' to show up at 5 p.m. on Sunday in the Dougherty auditorium
"But it's more than the football team,'' he added. "I feel like our side of town gets left out. I don't feel like people look at the east side in positive ways. I think that's wrong, and we need to change that.
"We can't win football games and we can't pass SAT tests without the community. I did this in Milledgeville and so many people came out and got involved. I want to get kids high school degrees. I want to prepare them for life, not just football.''
Hicks will have an academic advisor at the meeting to explain what it takes in the classroom to excel and to ask the parents to help their sons acquire the academic standards to play sports.
"A lot of parents don't know, and we want them to know and we want them to be involved," Hicks said.
Dougherty's offensive coordinator Robert Cummings and defensive coordinator Corey Joyner will both speak about the team, and Hicks will address the crowd.
"We want a Q&A and we want people to ask us anything (including our tough season a year ago),'' Hicks said. "Yes, I want them to ask me why we went 2-8. We want all their questions.
"We want the community to become involved. We have some die-hard Dougherty people and they have to get involved. If they get involved we will get this thing turned around. We want to bring back former Trojans. You would be surprised how many former Trojans live here.''
Hicks has said many times he wants to bring back the glory days of John Reynolds, whose teams at Dougherty were powers and state champions.
"I think we can get back to the days of John Reynolds,'' Hicks said. "We need more support. We have a vision, not a dream but a vision. A dream is something you have in your head. A vision is something you have in your heart -- something you see yourself accomplishing. Everybody has to be onboard.
"Once you turn the kid around everything else takes care of itself. So many people have a lot of pride in Dougherty. When we open up the doors like this, people are going to feel a part of it.''