Bryant a big part of Gainesville soccer's success
The Gainesville boys soccer players don’t mince words about their home pitch, Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park Stadium in Gainesville.
They love it.
“We love our field,” said Red Elephants senior Aidan Reising. “The size works with the way we play. It’s probably one of the best fields you’ll find in Georgia.”
It’s on that field, at 7 p.m. Saturday, that No. 2-ranked Gainesville (19-1-1) will host No. 1 Woodward Academy (17-3-1) in the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state championship game.
Reising and the rest of the players are able to utilize the regulation width field, much larger than most high school fields, to wear opponents out with precision passing.
It could come in handy again tonight against a team in Woodward that Gainesville coach Rick Howard said will be similar to the team the Red Elephants slipped by in the semifinals, St. Pius X, 2-1. Like the Golden Lions, Woodward is strong up the middle of the field, and, as Reising added, bigger and stronger.
“Maybe even a little more physical than St. Pius,” Howard added.
Add to that the fact that Woodward beat fellow 5-AAA opponent St. Pius X 2-0 in the regular season, and Saturday's game will not be easy to win, even with history on Gainesville’s side.
Including Saturday's game, Woodward Academy will have played in the last three state title games. But the War Eagles fell to the Golden Lions 5-4 last year and to Gainesville 3-2 in 2010 at Graham Hixson Field in College Park.
The two fields, Graham Hixson and Bobby Gruhn, share more similarities than just that they are now both locations of state title games between Gainesville and Woodward.
Graham Hixson was the head football coach and athletic director at Gainesville from the early 1950s until the early 1960s before leaving to go to Woodward Academy, which was then called Georgia Military.
His successor as football coach and athletic director at Gainesville was none other than Bobby Gruhn, the Red Elephants’ football coach from 1963-1992 and owner of a career 254-104-5 record as a head coach according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.
Now the Gainesville soccer program will look to improve on its own rich history with a second state title in three years, this time in cosier confines.