When the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Warriors take the field at Tommy Cash Stadium for the first time this season Sept. 14 against Dade County, the past, present and future of the program - and the school - will be in the spotlight.
There will be good news and there will be some not-so-good news, but the overlying message will be a future full of promise.
The Battlefield Parkway school, nearing its 40th year in existance, is undergoing massive renovations with the first major changes in the school's history. The athletic programs will benefit greatly across the board, and football coach and athletic director Todd Windham thinks the upgrade couldn't come at a better time.
"In the next few years LFO will be virtually remade," Windham said. "It's a very exciting time here, and it's much needed."
Windham hopes the upgrades, which will include new playing surfaces for all the athletic fields and a new gym, will both help keep athletes from transferring away and will lure more students into playing sports.
"Our numbers are down a good bit in most sports, and we hope this will help," Windham said. "I know the kids who are here are very excited about it."
The scoreboard will sit adjacent to the end zone next to the highway.
"The scoreboard will be two-sided and it will include highlights, player pictures, stats and advertising," Windham said. "Because of our location on Battlefield Parkway, it will be visible outside, too, so we'll be able to sell advertising that will also benefit the program. I don't believe there is another like it in the area."
Said senior linebacker Nate Long: "The new scoreboard is going to set us apart. We can't wait to see it."
LFO will suit up just more than 40 players, including freshmen, this season while rival Catoosa County programs Heritage and Ringgold will have more than twice that number each. Heritage is five years old and has top-of-the-line facilities, while Ringgold's facilities were renovated out of necessity after the April 2011 tornado destruction.
LFO now get its turn, which wouldn't be possible without the county voters' approval.
"After having moved here and to see the financial support here via the E-splost, it is a great resource for our schools and our kids," said Windham, who previously coached in Hamilton County. "Our facilities in Catoosa County, I've got to say, are tremendous athletically and the schools themselves. It's a tremendous advantage to have that money available.
"In a few years you won't be able to recognize this school. The county should be proud of what everyone has accomplished and what we have planned."