ALBANY -- It was a celebration at Dougherty, the kind Jesse Hicks wanted to share with the entire school.
That's why when seven of Hicks' football players signed scholarships Wednesday, the event was held in the Dougherty High auditorium, where the student body showed up to be a part of the story.
"As a coach, you feel good at the end of the day when there's an opportunity created for young men,'' Hicks said. "I just want them to get the opportunity. That's what this is all about. Our staff did a good job, and it's paying off today.''
Six of the players are headed for the Atlanta Sports Academy, where they can play for two years and then move on to a four-year school. Dougherty running back Rashon Solomon signed a scholarship with North Carolina Tech.
"We all feel great,'' Solomon said. "We've been waiting for this day to come."
Marcus Brunson, a linebacker, Jerolde Byrd, a receiver, Robert Gilford, a receiver and defensive back, Marcus Williams, a running back, Ezekial Knowles, a running back and Sharowski Griffin, a Herald Dynamite Dozen player who did a little of everything for Dougherty, all signed with Atlanta Sports Academy.
"We all signed together because being on this football team is like being in a family,'' Griffin said. "It's a big day for all of us.''
Brunson said they plan to stick together.
"We all plan on starting and playing together next year,'' Brunson said. "Our season didn't go like we planned, but this is a big day for us.''
Dougherty went 2-8 in Hicks' first year as the head coach, but the kids who signed Wednesday all said the program was on its way up.
"I think the program is going to get stronger,'' Gilford said. "Coach Hicks is a great coach and the up-and-coming seniors are working hard. I think the program is going to be in great shape.''