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Thursday, September 19, 2013
While the Jackets took care of business on the field, during halftime they were paid a special visit by one of their most decorated former players.
Jerry Priestley, who played for North Augusta High School from 1958-60, lettered in three sports – three years in football and four years in each of basketball and baseball. He was a member of the 1958 state championship team, and he was also voted captain of the 1960 team. He was selected to the Shrine Bowl in 1960 and voted MVP of the same game.
He went on to play college ball at Georgia Tech, where he continued to letter in all three sports. He was a member of the 1962 Bluebonnet Bowl and 1965 Gator Bowl teams. He was the team’s total offense leader in 1964 and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982. Just last year, he was also voted into the “Living History Program” at the university.
During halftime, his accomplishments were read aloud, and he was given a framed portrait of the Jacket Nest. Though he never played at that field – in his day the Jackets played at Lions Field – he was still taken aback by the honor.
“Bob (Bolton) called me several months ago and told me that they wanted me to come to a home game,” Priestley said. “I said, ‘OK,’ but I’ve had some health problems recently. We worked it out, and I was really humbled about it. I love North Augusta, and I got a great education here, the fans and coaches here are unbelievable. The TV show ‘Friday Night Lights’ was sort of like North Augusta when we were around. There was no one open on Georgia Avenue when we played – it was pretty much dark.”
Although he lives in Atlanta, Priestley said that the changes and program have come a long way. The school is even new – during his time, he went to the old high school.
“I love the setting,” he said. “I haven’t been here but one time, I think 15 years ago. I’m not surprised to see how far things have come since it’s North Augusta.”
Being a Georgia Tech grad, Priestley said that he was “excited” to hear that offensive lineman Jake Whitley had committed to play college ball there. He also stated that quarterback Trib Reece’s performance had shown that he was able to handle the spotlight.
“He’s going to be a good one, in a high school situation you just have to decide what’s best for you and your family and do it,” he said.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Alvernia University and currently attends Drexel University.