HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — The 2020 football season for one local high school is not just about wins and losses. It’s about a community coming together.
Jake Hall is Ola High School in Henry County’s starting quarterback. In fact, this year, he’s leading the team’s offense. But just a few weeks into the season, his life completely changed.
It was a Friday night in McDonough and the Ola Mustangs were going up against the North Oconee Titans.
But as the team took the field that night, Hall felt a large presence missing in the stands. The weekend of Jake’s season opener, his dad, Jeffrey Hall, passed away suddenly at just 50 years old.
Channel 2′s Alison Mastrangelo talked to Hall about his terrible loss.
“It’s been hard really, because every step of the way, my dad has been there watching film and watching my games being there to support me, and it’s just different without him,” Hall said.
Ola’s head coach, Jared Zito, talked about Hall’s drive on the field.
“Jake is just an awesome kid, he’s just as solid as they come a football player, person, student and he strives for excellence and everything that he does, and he got that from his mom and his dad,” Zito said.
Zito said that after Hall’s dad died, he told Hall to take some time off.
“I told him, ‘Listen, you don’t have to come to practice today tomorrow this week or play.’ I said, ‘You don’t need a day?’ He said, ‘Coach, two things: One, my dad would want me to be there and two, my team is my second family and I need to be with those guys,’” Zito said.
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In Hall’s very next game, he put on an incredible performance for his father and the Ola Mustangs.
“Jake just played phenomenal he scored three touchdowns rushed for 143 yards threw for 90 yards and he had the game winning touchdown the entire stadium was going crazy,” Zito said.
Hall said he felt his dad was on the field with him.
“It felt like his presence was there, and anytime I did anything good or bad, I knew what to do because of him,” Hall said.
Hall even took a moment to acknowledge his loved ones up above after he scored.
“I pointed up just for him and my grandfather he passed way too. Anytime I play it’s just for those two,” Hall said.
That’s exactly what Jake plans to do this season: Every day, he will continue to play the game he loves while honoring his dad and grandfather the rest of the 2020 season and beyond.
The Ola community has set up a GoFundMe page for Jake and his family.
Cox Media Group