Second Class inducted into the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening in Atlanta

By — Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame Board Member and Score Atlanta Sports Editor Seth Ellerbee.

ATLANTA — Forty of the state’s greatest high school football players, their families and countless of their diehard fans gathered to induct the Second Class into the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta Saturday.

The event was held at the College Football Hall of Fame for the second time with its massive marquee displaying the Hall of Fame logo into the Atlanta night as a beacon of football greatness.

Opening the ceremony for the 2023 Class, I.J. Rosenberg – the President of Score Atlanta and Hall of Fame Executive Director – welcomed the members of the Inaugural Class into the venue.

Returning members from the 2022 Class included Champ Bailey, the legendary University of Georgia cornerback who starred at Charlton County.

Also in attendance from the Inaugural Class – and visiting from the University of Mars — was Spencer great Otis Sistrunk, who played for the Oakland Raiders from 1972 to 1978. The image of the back of his steaming head which was shown during a Monday Night Football broadcast is a timeless glimpse into the 1970’s NFL.

Valdosta great Stan Rome – who played college football and basketball at Clemson and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs from 1979-1982 — was welcomed by Rosenberg. Also joining from the Inaugural Class was Washington County and University of Georgia great Terrence Edwards.

Rosenberg then welcomed the Second Class of the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame, asking those in attendance to stand while the soon-to-be inductees took their seats – surrounded by family and friends. Cheers, claps and a tear or two highlighted the moment.

Rosenberg acknowledged the presence of 2023 inductee Jeff Saturday – who snapped the ball to Peyton Manning for most of his career and helped lead the Indianapolis Colts to victory in the 2006 Super Bowl. Rosenberg – who hadn’t shaved in a few days – quipped that if Saturday could pull the look off on ESPN, Rosenberg could tonight. Saturday coached Hebron Christian from 2017 to 2020 and then served as the interim head coach of the Colts for the 2022 season.

The Star-Spangled Banner played as the color guard from Benjamin Mays High School presented the colors. Then, an appearance from 2022 inductee Takeo Spikes was a warm moment. Last year, Spikes was presented his jacket on the SEC Network where he was working at the time. The replay of him receiving his jacket was replayed with smiles and laughter coming from those in attendance. His words on the greatness of high school football were aired on the SEC Network and into thousands of homes before the inaugural ceremony last year.

Robin Hines – the GHSA Executive Director – was welcomed to the tune of Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ as he waved his hands over his head back-and-forth to the beat. Like Spikes – and everyone who spoke throughout the evening — Hines referenced the greatness of Georgia High School Football in comparison to the rest of the nation – notably Texas. His point, Georgia – by size – is the greatest at producing football talent.

“It means more,” Hines said to applause.

Rosenberg then welcomed legendary Brookwood coach Dave Hunter, Randy Beall, Robin Hines, recruiting expert Rusty Mansell, producer Roddy White and the AJC and Georgia High School Football Daily founder Todd Holcomb to the stage. Each accepted an award for helping to develop the High School Football Hall of Fame, which would not exist with the joint-effort between them.

The greatest moment of the evening was when former Georgia Interscholastic Association head coach Raymond ‘Tweet’ Williams was welcomed by Rosenberg. The GIA was the African American Association in the state before integration. Williams – who turned 97 this year — won the 2A GIA championship in 1954. It’s been a long time since 1926. He was 19 when WWII ended.

Mike Lutzenkirchen was next on stage and commanded the attention of everyone in attendance. Mike’s son Philip starred at Lassiter and then Auburn before dying in a crash involving alcohol as a passenger outside of LaGrange in 2014. The family founded the Lutzie 43 Foundation in honor of their son. The goal of the foundation is to bring attention to distracted and impaired driving. The ’43 Key Seconds’ promoted by the Lutzie 43 Foundation is the first nationally recognized symbol for distracted and impaired driving awareness and prevention.

Preceding the induction ceremony — UGA great Champ Bailey took the stage to recognize his former Georgia teammates and high school opponents. Bailey suggested that each high-school age player in attendance find a hall of famer and spend time talking to them before the evening was over. Bailey introduced Bill Hartman – the well-known and loved FOX 5 sportscaster – who would share duties welcoming the 2023 inductees alongside Sam Crenshaw, Brandon Adams and more.

Preceding the induction of the 2023 Class, attendees enjoyed food and drinks curated by Rosenberg’s marvelous wife Beth Ann. The mains were perfectly-cooked steak, tender chicken and marinated and roasted salmon. Appetizers included salads with options for toppings — the bacon, chevre and bleu cheeses and a creamy Italian dressing were favorites. The perfectly cooked brussels sprouts were flawless.

Attendees also were able to visit several open bars throughout the venue – a vodka and cranberry or one of various beers were popular selections.

To watch the full 2023 Induction Ceremony, follow the link to the  replay — click here – where you can see Buzy Rosenberg do pushups, a son accept his father’s jacket and countless other great memories.

But if you missed it, the 2024 ceremony – like the first two– is open to the public with regular and VIP tickets available for purchase. The VIP tickets grant access to the VIP reception, which includes food and drinks for a great meal while mingling with some of the best high school football players in state history.

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