From The ECHO (Spring 1981):
"Lightening pierced the sky with a brilliance that dimmed the night lamps. An army of white-jerseyed Jackets crashed through the ominous banner, threatening the Walton Raiders with defeat. The kick was up and the 1980 Varsity Yellow Jackets began their long, embattled season.
That night saw the offensive line [push] for a total of 214 yards [rushing], and the quarterbacks, Nick Kavadallas and Mark Haynes, [pass] for 198 yards. A combination of determination and excitement led the Jackets to a magnificent victory.
Later, Coach Whitey Tucker commented, 'I think we looked the best that a Sprayberry team ever has on the opening night of the season against Walton. They had a lot of good material, but the way we played against Walton, I thought we were going to win the Region.'
Dalton and North Cobb, the next two forces to encounter the Yellow Jackets, witnessed a team settling down for a long fight for top position. The defensive line of Sprayberry allowed 231 yards to be gained by Dalton, which led to defeat.
Both lines tightened up against North Cobb, a game viewed by [Head] Coach John Paty as one of the best games of the season. Scott Viness played very well, as he downed six Warriors and assisted in two sacks.
The evening of September 9th was hot, and both sides were preparing for their first SubRegion game. The tension ran high as penalty markers flew and fumbles rolled across the turf. By halftime, both teams were eye-to-eye, the score: Sprayberry 13, Wills 14. Into the Third quarter they went, each team pursuing the goals. The Varsity Jackets pulled ahead when Mark Perry went for a 25-yard field goal, bringing the score to 16-14. Again, the teams clashed with a gain of 7 points each in the fourth quarter. Mark Sarajian [had] buzzed twelve Tigers in personal tackles and assisted in ten. All was in readiness for another Sprayberry victory [when] Wills' quarterback pulled out a 9-yard pass to stunningly defeat the mighty Jackets. The team was shocked.
Coach Paty recalled, 'I feel that the [ending] of the Wills game [was] definitely the turning point of the season. If we had won, we probably would have... ended up in the Playoffs.'
The surprise experienced by the final-second defeat by Wills had a lasting effect for the next two games against Wheeler and Douglas County. But with regained confidence and stamina, the Senior Jackets triumphed over Campbell and Cherokee. A strong defensive line kept the opposing yardage below 100, and tight end Frank Webb [accounted] for 103 yards [of the passing].
The games against Marietta and McEachern finished the season for the Varsity squad, [which finished] with a 5-5 record.
The Varsity Yellow Jacket Team was one that had some handicaps and a very tough schedule. However, they did not let these downfalls get the most of them and played great games with much determination.
'I have never seen a team with as many dedicated athletes,' commented Coach Tucker.
Sprayberry High and the Varsity coaches were proud to have such a fine and dedicated team playing for them."
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