By Mario Alford
As told to S. Thomas Coleman for the AJC
I think the public and private schools should keep competing against each other because you always want to play against the best competition you can and find out who is the best.
When I was competing at Greenville, Brookstone and St. Anne-Pacelli were in our region all four years I was there. I remember the first time we went to those schools to play when I was a freshman. Pacelli’s facility was okay, but Brookstone looked like a college. We were all on the bus, looking around at the campus and the football stadium. None of us had ever seen anything like that at a high school.
Our coach told us to get focused. We lost the game (31-8), but it wasn’t because we were still thinking about how nice the school and the facility looked. We just weren’t a very good team that year and Brookstone was good, very good. I think they won the region that year. We lost to Pacelli that year, too (36-20).
My sophomore year we lost to Brookstone again but the game was closer (14-13) and we beat Pacelli (44-8). Brookstone was good. Pacelli wasn’t. I think Brookstone won the region championship again that year. The reason we lost to them didn’t have anything to do with the fact that they were a private school and we were a public school. They were just better than we were … and I wasn’t playing quarterback and didn’t have the ball in hands on every play.
But my junior year we beat Brookstone (27-25) and Pacelli (40-14). We had a good team and I was playing quarterback. We won the region and went to the playoffs. My senior year we beat Brookstone (14-10) and Pacelli (41-21) again.
In basketball they didn’t compete as well against us as they did in football, especially my junior and senior year when we were really good. I don’t think we ever lost to Brookstone and we maybe lost to Pacelli one time while I was at Greenville. (Note: Greenville was 8-0 against Brookstone and 7-1 against Pacelli in the four years that Alford was there.)
In track, I never lost a race to anybody from a private school.
As far as our coaches were concerned, they never told us we have to go out and beat these private schools. They didn’t tell us anything special when we played a private school. As players, we thought about it a little bit but it wasn’t a big deal. We wanted to win every game we played, whether it was against a private school or a public school. That didn’t matter to us.
We looked at private schools as just another team. If they were a good team, we really focused on playing as well as we could and beating them. It they weren’t a good team, we concentrated on making sure that we didn’t overlook them.
It doesn’t matter to me much now because I’m not in high school anymore. But I don’t see why the public schools and private schools won’t play each other now. I think they should play. You always want to find out who is the best.
Mario Alford is a running back/receiver/kick and punt returner at Georgia Military College, where he competed for the Bulldogs last season after graduating from Greenville High School in 2011. Alford was a four-year varsity letter winner in football, basketball and track at Greenville, where he started at quarterback his junior and senior seasons. As a junior, Alford was the Class A champion in the 100 meters in a time of 10.77. As a senior point guard, he led the Patriot basketball team to a 27-4 record, a region championship and the state semi finals, after his last second driving layup propelled Greenville to a 77-75 win over Wilcox County. After a stellar season at GMC, where he ended up after qualifying late, Alford is now being courted by several Division I schools, including Georgia.