New film to honor Athens High School state championship team

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Athens High School’s 1975 state championship is the focus of a new documentary called “Willie’s Gift.” (Athens High School)

A documentary premiering in April will feature the Athens High School football team’s 1975 state championship. The film, “Willie’s Gift,” is the latest project by nationally acclaimed author, filmmaker, historian and Athens High School alum Keith Dunnavant.

Here’s what to know about this new film and its upcoming premier:

Read more: New film to honor Athens High School state championship team

‘Willie’s Gift’

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“Willie’s Gift” celebrates the 1975 Athens High School state championship team. (City of Athens)

“Willie’s Gift” looks into coach Larry McCoy’s Golden Eagles’ 12-1-1 season by featuring interviews with Coach McCoy, as well as key players such as Freddie Smith, John Marshall, Steve Parker, Bill Ming and Thomas Woodroof.

“This is the story of a great football team, one that was a big part of my life growing up, and it’s also a story about the connective tissue between the program and its community. It digs into the power of pride and shared values and how a loving parent can make all the difference.”

Filmmaker Keith Dunnavant

Dunnavant is a 1983 Athens High School alum who started his journalism career as a teenager before becoming an award-winning writer and editor for newspapers and magazines in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

He has written definitively about many sports legends, including Paul “Bear” Bryant, Joe Montana, and Bart Starr, and is frequently seen as a featured historian on television, with prominent roles in ESPN’s college football history series “The American Game” and SEC Network’s “Saturdays in the South”.

Dunnavant is also the author of the 2006 bestseller, “The Missing Ring,” a story about the 1966 Alabama Crimson Tide team.

The film premier event

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Tickets to the premier for the film are $20. (City of Athens)

The film will premier on Thursday, April 20, at 6:30PM at the Athens Performing Arts Center at Athens High School.

Fans are encouraged to walk the red carpet and mingle with the team members at 5:30PM. After the presentation, Dunnavant will host a brief Q & A session with team members.

“This will be a night of celebration for Athens. This is our opportunity as a community to recognize this championship football team and also what high school football represents to our culture. I look forward to seeing old friends and sharing this special moment with my hometown.” 

Filmmaker Keith Dunnavant

Tickets are $20 each and available online through or in person at Mauldin & Jenkins CPA and First Metro Bank (Athens locations). Tickets will also be available at the door.

Proceeds will benefit The Black and Gold Circle’s Feed the Eagle, a food and nutrition program supporting the Athens High School Football Team.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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