Canton Eagles Win First District Title In More Than 40 Years

For the first time in 40 years the Canton Eagles are district champions. The title comes during a season that was dedicated to their head coach, Gary Joe Kinne.  Coach Kinne was shot in the school's field house last April.
One of his players, his son and Canton Quarterback G.J., was determined to make this a winning year for his father.
G.J. has done just that, win.
You could call the Canton Eagles, the comeback kids. During a season when the cameras focused more on what happened off the field, they kept their focus on the field.
"Like I said at the beginning, if we put our minds to it we can do anything we want," GJ Kinne said.
For G.J. it has been a season of determination.
"We dedicated this season to my dad and I think it's going to go much farther than this," he said.
The quarterback said at times it was tough to make the past just that, the past. After the shooting and the press, he has been able to do so. G.J. racked up the yardage, as well as countless awards and top state honors.
"I couldn't be more proud of him," Coach Kinne said. "I'm always proud of him but I think this year in particular because he was able to put this behind him and concentrate."
G.J. said at times staying focused was tough. Especially during one game when Coach Kinne was not on the sidelines but back in the hospital.
"First game I never had my dad not there," G.J. said, "and before the game they played a tape of him saying go out there, what his pregame speech is, and I just broke down and started crying."
But Canton came back in that game to win, just as the team has come back from tragedy to triumph.
GJ said it was something he could not have done alone.
"One player can't win," he said. "You have to have a team effort."
After four decades without a title, the Eagles took flight. G.J. hopes the season dedicated to his father, will not end anytime soon.
"It's going to be an interesting road but don't count us out."

G.J. has had verbal offerings from Alabama and his father's alma mater, Baylor. Canton plays White Oak in Gladewater Friday night.

Maya Golden reporting,