Bainbridge sends football team to state championship, shows support for grieving player

By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 10, 2018

DECATUR CO., Ga. (WCTV) -- Monday, the Bainbridge community held a send off for their high school football team, who's heading to the state championship game.

The Bearcats were greeted by the band and cheering students at the high school. After leaving campus, they circled around the town and visited every school.

The team's biggest, and tiniest, fans filed out of Jones-Wheat Elementary School with handmade signs as the buses drove up. Hundreds of kids lined up next to the school playground's fence, bursting with excitement.

"It's unbelievable," said Derik Mcdowell, a Jones-Wheat teacher.

Mcdowell was the biggest fan in the crowd, because he's also the dad of #5, Caleb Mcdowell.

"You have to pinch yourself to see if it's really real, and it is. To see him be a student here, grow into a student-athlete, and now, be a role model for some of the same kids," said Mcdowell.

A proud moment for this dad after watching his son push through some of the hardest times of his life this year. Caleb's mom passed away a month ago.

"He's still doing his very best. We know she's looking down on him," said Georgette McNelson, Caleb's aunt, and another Jones-Wheat teacher.

The family showed off a picture of Caleb taken after his mom's death. Hidden by his jersey and kept close to his heart is a necklace from his mom.

"With all he's gone through with the storm and losing his mom, he is still dedicated to the Bainbridge High School Bearcats," said McNelson.

All Bainbridge schools are closed Tuesday for the game.

Bainbridge High says the last time their football team made it to state was in 1982. So far, they've already sold more than 2,000 tickets to people within the community.