The thermometer’s starting to pop and the pads are starting to crackle, and that can mean only one thing for folks in these parts.

It’s time for the season of passion in the Great American South. Football is at our doorstep.

There’s no need to alert Robert Naddra of any of this. Naddra, a former Dalton resident now living in Rome, has been hard at work for the last several months editing and preparing the first Varsity Sports Media Georgia Football Magazine, a must-have for pigskin fans around the state.

The publication runs 230 pages and includes previews of schools from all five classifications and the Georgia Independent School Association. The colleges certainly are not forgotten, with full coverage devoted to 13 schools in the Peach State, from Georgia to tiny Georgia Military College.

It’s been a labor of love for Naddra and his staff of about a dozen, and they’re ready for this newborn to be spanked and presented to the public.

“There’s not another one in the state lthat combines high school, college and pro in the same book,” said Naddra. “The books also is full color from front to back.”

with full coverage devoted to 13 schools in the Peach State, from Georgia to tiny Georgia Military College.

It’s been a labor of love for Naddra and his staff of about a dozen, and they’re ready for this newborn to be spanked and presented to the public.

“There’s not another one in the state that combines high school, college and pro in the same book,” said Naddra.

There’s a section devoted to special rankings of the top players in each classification (Dalton senior linebacker Jake McIntosh made the Class 4A list); the most imposing places to play (Dalton’s Harmon Field stands 12th); and the best high school players from Georgia post-Herschel Walker (Garrison Hearst is the top choice).

The rankings have been carefully thought through by an expert source. Naddra hired former Oklahoma star Derrick Crudup, who played defensive back for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1989-91, to be the magazine’s official talent evaluator.

That mission took Crudup all around Georgia to see the state’s best players and teams with his own eyes.

“He picked preseason teams for each class and something called our ‘Power 384,’” Naddra explained. “That’s the top 50 seniors in state, then the top 10 at each position and more to watch for. We did that for rising juniors also, and at the end it added up to 384 players.”

The magazine promises to be a must-have for any coach or Northwest Georgia high school football fan. Those interested in purchasing can make orders at www.georgiaphenoms.com or wait for it to be sold in stores in our area. Cost is $8.95.

-- REST IN PEACE: The sudden death of 19-year-old John Bruner during Saturday’s road race in Chattanooga is inexplicable and heart-wrenching.

Bruner was just a few weeks from beginning his sophomore year at Georgia College and State University, where he was a standout runner on Joe Samprone’s cross country squad.

Now he is gone in a wisp.

And nobody can ever know why.

Members of this department worked with Bruner several times during his high school running career at Dalton High School. John conducted himself with rare grace and humility and always seemed to have a very real sense of happiness in his heart.

It is said that the Maker picks the best flowers first, and uses those to stock the kingdom. There is little solace or understanding to be derived from the death of any 19-year-old young man, but those close to John know he earned his spot on the most important team of them all.

John will be laid to rest Wednesday morning at 10:30 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. The family will receive friends at Love Funeral Home on Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. The Bruners ask that memorials be made to the Boy Scouts of America Northwest Georgia Council, P.O. Box 1422, Rome, Ga., 30162-1422 or to the Dalton Education Foundation at P.O. Box 1408, Dalton, 30722-1408.

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