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No place like Dome
Band, cheerleaders help fans get ready for first-ever trip to Atlanta
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Hundreds of North Hall High School Trojans filled the stands of the North Hall gym Thursday evening, screaming, cheering and praying in celebration of the school’s advancement to the Class AAA state semifinals.

The pep rally starred the football players, a review of the season’s best plays, a congratulatory video message from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and, of course, the cheerleaders and Marching Trojans.

After defeating Perry High School last week in the state quarterfinals, the Trojans (13-0) won a trip to the Georgia Dome on Saturday afternoon for the state semifinal game against the Cairo Syrupmakers (12-1). A dark North Hall gym housed fans with flashlights and glow-in-the-dark gear, booming in anticipation of Saturday’s big game.

Although it’s the football players who win the games, it’s the cheerleaders and marching band who keep that Trojan spirit alive.

"I think the band as well as the cheerleaders and the fans play a huge role in how the team does," said North Hall senior snare drummer Luke Maloney. "I’m glad that we can support the football team as much as we have. I’m really glad I got to see the football team grow and develop and learn how to work together so they can go to the semifinals."

The drum major for the Marching Trojans, North Hall senior Sara Beth Jones, said the band will perform its competition show "Spanish Fiesta" at the Georgia Dome Saturday afternoon.

"I’m very excited about it," Jones said. "It’s a great way to go out your senior year. But I’m also very nervous because it’s televised."

North Hall band director Alan Kirkland said band students have put in a lot of extra time and effort to perform during the extended football season. In addition to the 90-minute practice during every school day, band members practice five hours after school each week.

But Jones said being a part of the Friday night fun is something she just couldn’t give up.

"I think it’s a big honor to be a part of the football team," she said. "I feel like we’re just as important as they are because we’re there every week. We get very involved with the game. The feeling of a Friday night is hard to explain. ... It’s a high unlike any other."

Jones said freshman members of the marching band are ecstatic about performing at the Georgia Dome their first year in high school.

And roughly a dozen North Hall cheerleaders will cheer along the sidelines Saturday. They have been busy preparing signs and goody bags for the football players throughout the week.

"The senior cheerleaders make the senior football players goody bags that are bigger and better than the underclassmen," North Hall senior cheerleader Ashley Crain said. "Seniors are special and they’ve been working for four years, and all the underclassmen look up to them."

The cheerleaders bake cupcakes and cookies for the team, and fill bags with candy and good-luck notes. They also decorated the locker room with balloons, streamers and banners for the big pep rally. The entire football team wore Santa hats Thursday night given to them by the cheerleaders.

Riverbend Elementary students also made goody bags filled with candy for the football players.

The 10-foot-tall sign that the cheerleaders made for the players to run through Saturday awaits near the locker room. It reads: "Fifty years of greatness and still making history."

"It’s exciting that we get to go to the Dome our senior year. And it’s exciting that it’s the first time ever in our school’s history," said North Hall senior cheerleader Brianna Baker.

Baker said students’ parents play a big role in the Trojan spirit, and lend a lot of time and support to the school’s athletic teams.

During the pep rally, students were invited to come down from the gym stands to participate in a prayer for the football team. The entire crowd stepped onto the wooden floor to support the team in prayer.

"I’ve had no doubt in my mind that we’d be here all season," Crain said. "We’re going to win."