There are only so many programs that can pull off the saying “The Big Orange Jungle” and get away with it. Then again, not every program is Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia.
My second stop in Metro Atlanta landed me at Parkview High School. Head football coach Eric Godfree runs one of the most successful programs in the area. As the signs show in the hallway – state champions in 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2003 – success is nothing new. Still, the Tigers need to earn their way each year.
Much like Gwinnett Central, Parkview is blessed with facilities that allow for a great locker room, an extremely large assistant coaching area, a multipurpose room, a meeting room like a small college, and a couple of outdoor practice fields.
The so-called “Big Orange Jungle” also provides an impressive stadium. The press box is a blend of new and old, meaning it has old-school style with technological advancement included. It’s truly a fantastic home field advantage. As for how the day goes, it’s not your normal high school program either.
With a lifting routine that begins in the morning before school, Coach Godfree’s crew has leadership at the coaching level, as well as with his star pupil. It’s one thing to have an elite 2021 running back, yet another for that same running back to be a leader in the weight room and lifting with the offensive tackles.
Running back Cody Brown (6-0, 216) is a player that was pushing teammates to get after it during each rep. No question, it was cool to watch him squat well over 300-pounds at the end of the lifting session. Already tired, the Parkview players finished out their workout and headed to class. Then 2:15 rolls around after school.
Detailed instruction in the film room. Players asking questions, coaches presenting game plans, and collective vetting process by rising 2022 athlete Terian Williams II and the coaches are all a part of the pre-practice starting point. it’s time to hit the practice fields.
From every possible vantage point, the Parkview players learned from the coaching staff while physically and verbally challenging one another. Competition breeds success, or so they say. This group is feisty and closing in on the playoffs. Practice was spirited and competitive from beginning to end. It’s a good thing, too. With so much speed in Gwinnett County, teams often times really need to prepare their defensive players, no matter the grade.
Yes, sophomores and sometimes even freshmen are run through the gauntlet of drills to hone their craft. One particular young player would catch anyone’s eye. He’s a big boy, but he can move.
At 6-2 and 330-pounds, class of 2022 blocker Johnnie Brown is a large young man. Size 15 shoes, but quick feet. He’s a big fella that has an incredibly high ceiling on both sides of the football. Players and coaches alike keep pushing Brown, and Brown is also determined to push himself.
“I want to be 285,” Brown said of where he wants to be at the end of next summer. “My problem is I eat too much junk food.”
Brown went on to say he was going to make it to 285-pounds, and he was pretty matter of fact about it. To be honest, with the support around him, it would not be that shocking.
Cody Brown (no relation), as well as Williams and several people throughout the Parkview program, are all on Brown to continually improve his physical stature. It’s why the program is successful. Everyone works towards the same common goal: win the title. Always encouraging, always helping the player next to them. It’s great to watch.
As each grade of players moves up, they bring the younger players along. That’s the definition of a program. A family. Coach Godfree and his program are doing very well. They’ve earned the right to call it “The Big Orange Jungle” and it will continue to be so for many decades to come.