Canton Football Fever

The city of Canton has caught football fever. This Friday night, the Canton Eagles will play the Tatum Eagles, with the winner going to the state semifinals.

Anthony Fitzgerald played for Canton in the 70's.  He's been watching this years' team closely.

"This Canton team, this year,has more than lived up to expectations. Their own, the schools and the community's."

You've heard of painting the town red, but what about green? Everywhere you look in this small town, green and white signs of support loom large.

Reagan Sumner is the president of the booster club.

"Oh, we're excited. The whole town is playing on emotion right now, kind of week by week. I just can't describe how excited we are."

Those that live here say the Canton Eagles definitely have the talent to go all the way to state.

Brad Browning, a local fan said, "They're going to have a hard time stopping the boys on offense. It's going to be fun."

Another fan, Dennis Clarkson said, "They're fantastic! Best I've ever seen. Best passing game I've ever seen in high school."

But it's their Cinderella story that's inspiring the whole community. They say Coach Gary Joe Kinne's recovery after last April's shooting set a precedent for the team.

Steve Plunk is a member of the booster club.  He said, "When he [Coach Kinne] was lying flat on his back, everybody pretty much wrote him off as being gone. And he fought back. He showed his leadership to this team, and I think they're tapping into that."

Friday night's game will be a tough one, but with everything the team and their coach have been through this year, fans say the canton eagles have an edge.

"They don't have the heart that this football team has. You can be out-talented on the football field, but if you got more heart, you're going to win," Plunk said.

Fitzgerald told us, "This team has backbone. They're hungry. They can see the goal. They're not going to quit. They're not going to quit."

The team learned an important lesson while watching their coach fight and win the toughest battle of his life. Now, this community expects them to play with the same kind of determination this Friday night.

Lindsay Wilcox, reporting.