Inaugural Class Shows Magnitude of Georgia’s Gridiron Greatness

ATLANTA, Ga. (SCORE Atlanta) - The state of Georgia has bloomed into a proud home base for the most prominent high school football played anywhere in the country and its storied history and reputation continues growing with each new season. Spirited rivalries, heartbreaking upsets, remarkable dynasties and inspiring performances have made Friday nights in Georgia a treasured mainstay and component to the identity and pride that spans to every corner of the state. Generations of countless players have participated in this ever-unfolding journey since the sport was first introduced in 1894 and the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame was launched to represent the all-time standouts and greats that surpassed the competition, excelled beyond the expectations and contributed to the legacy that built the incredible atmosphere of high school football that Georgians get to see played week in and week out right in their own backyards.

The Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame was the brainchild of Score Atlanta President I.J. Rosenberg, who was involved in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown during his years covering the Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was pivotal in bringing high school football games to public broadcasting and in 2019, Rosenberg started what has become a successful Hall of Fame at the high school he attended, Lakeside in DeKalb County, a school that won 24 state team championships in the 1970′s. Creating a statewide hall of fame was going to take a full-scale approach and Rosenberg met with the GHSA in December of 2021 to discuss his vision on how to fill this void and use a statewide collaborative effort to do it the right way.

“This is long overdue,’’ said Rosenberg. “The history of Georgia High School football is tremendous and for years Georgia has been known to have some of the top players in the country. But the idea here is not just to induct players, but tell the story of high school football in Georgia.”

There was a collective eagerness and commitment to fulfilling the mission that every board member shared when the Hall of Fame was officially announced in February 2022, and the committee meetings led to votes and discussions that aimed to best represent the incredible achievements seen over the course of Georgia High School Football’s history.

By spring, the board voted to give all the former Georgia prep stars enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame an automatic bid. Those nine Pro Football Hall of Famers would be represented in the inaugural class with the 36 highest vote-getters from the 100-player ballot that was formed after a series of meetings and process of elimination to complete the 45-member inaugural class. Once the final 100-player ballot was set, the nominees were divided into eight different eras: the pre-1950′s, the 1950′s, 1960′s, GIA, 1970′s, 1980′s, 1990′s and 2000′s. The board decided that the best path forward was to require two votes to be cast in each era as the only criteria for the 36 selections. In doing so, players were evaluated off their impact in their specific era and each board member was still provided the opportunity to submit a unique ballot. Additionally, players would have to exemplify strong character and be able to meet the standards to represent Georgia high school football.

The ballots were voted on and submitted by July 1, but a four-way tie for the final spot in the class forced the board to hold a separate vote-off to complete the process. Days later, the inaugural class became official and a new institution to honor Georgia’s greatest high school talent was complete. There is a special honor in being represented in this inaugural class and these 45 Hall of Famers will forever represent Georgia high school football with distinction.

The Hall of Fame Game between Brookwood vs. Grayson is this Friday at 8 PM on Peachtree TV. Click here to watch.