If there's one thing Norcross High head football Coach Keith Maloof lives by, it's what his father always said.
"Do the best you can with the ability God gave you, and you'll always be a champion," said his dad, George, who coached the St. Pius X football team for 26 years.
Maloof himself has been the head coach at Norcross High for 14 years now, but has been in the field of coaching football for 28 years. Before landing in Norcross, he assisted and headed the high school football teams for Loganville, Meadowcreek, Tucker and Dacula, where he helped coach under his brother, Kevin, who retired in 2011. Maloof was the head baseball coach there, too.
And the sports in his family doesn't stop there: His son Tyler pitched for the baseball team at the University of Georgia, and his other son Tanner played baseball and football at Norcross before graduating in May. He now plays baseball for Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.
It's no doubt that Maloof takes pride in the Blue Devils since he and the coaching staff have helped produced a consistently efficient team. Last year the team's record was 8-3, and in 2006 and 2007 Norcross won Region 7-AAAAA's title, which is the team's aim for 2012.
"Last year we fell short of our goal," Maloof said. "We got into the playoffs, but we got beat in the first round. This year we're looking to go further in the state playoffs and hopefully challenge for a state championship."
Players to watch out for this year include the local football star Alvin Kamara, whose mailbox was flooded last year with Alabama Tide with recruitment letters; Joseph Wilber, a quarterback; and defensemen Tommy Tate and Shon Akins.
"They've worked hard on their three or four years, and they do a good job in the school and as leaders in the community," said Maloof. "They're just overall good players and people."
Norcross has had some extraordinary players in the past who have gained NFL status, too. Former Norcross outside linebacker Larry Grant currently plays for the San Francisco 49ers; Jeff Backus was drafted by the Detroit Lions; and wide receiver Darius Hanks was in the NFL until he was injured this past year.
Even though the season doesn't officially start until this Friday, the scrimmage game last week was said to be on-the-edge-of-your-seat exciting. The game they had in Moultrie against Colquitt County High two Fridays ago was a close call, but Norcross ended it with a win.
"We won with two seconds left in the game," said Maloof, adding that the score was 33-31. Maloof and assistant football Coach Corey Richardson agreed that the away game also served as a team-building weekend since the location was so far.
And that team aspect is the main reason why Maloof loves football, too.
"It's an ultimate team sport," he said. "In other sports, an individual can pretty much take over, but in football, you've got to use everybody else. Football is a sport about roleplayers, it's not just about one guy. It's about a bunch of different people playing together to reach one common goal."
Watch Norcross High in season opener at the South Gwinnett Comets at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. The home opener is Thursday, Sept. 6, against Parkview High.
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