LINCOLNTON, Ga. – Gerard Hearst is no stranger to Lincoln County.
The son of legendary Red Devil Garrison Hearst, Gerard grew up visiting his grandparents at his father’s old home and attending games at Buddy Bufford Field where Garrison got his start. He’d visit at least once a month and got to know those around his age despite living more than two hours away in the Atlanta area.
So, it came as no surprise when Gerard quickly felt at home in Lincoln County for his senior year. It’s only fitting that a Hearst fit in well in a Red Devil backfield.
“I’ve loved football since I was young and I’ve always wanted to be a Red Devil. It’s very exciting being a Red Devil,” Gerard said.
After playing for John’s Creek in the Atlanta area his first three years, Gerard took advantage of the opportunity to live with his grandparents and moved to Lincoln County for his final high school season. The Red Devils kept the move relatively quiet, but there was a renewed excitement around the school with a Hearst back in the hallways and wearing red on Fridays.
“He’s always loved Lincoln County,” said Garrison, who starred for the Red Devils and Georgia before playing parts of 10 seasons in the NFL. “He talked like he was a Red Devil since he heard about me being there. He was always brought back to games. He had an opportunity for his senior season to come live with my parents and we were able to make it happen.”
Combined with all-around athletes Javon Reid and Midarious Roberts, Lincoln County entered the season with high expectations. Gerard broke the fourth toe on his right foot before the season and played through it before realizing the severity. After missing one game, he came back and has produced 458 rushing yards on 73 carries with three touchdowns.
Off the field, Lincoln County’s coaches offered nothing but positive words on Gerard, from his playing ability to his respectful attitude and strong work ethic.
Lincoln County is 4-4 overall, but more importantly 3-1 in Region 7-A. The biggest game of the season to this point is tonight when the Red Devils play host to rival Aquinas, who’s 4-0 in the region and looking to wrap things up, while Lincoln County is trying to cause a region disruption and avenge four consecutive losses to the Irish.
Regardless of the outcome, Gerard is already able to list plenty of positives from his time in Lincoln County. He said he was nervous moving to a new program, but the coaching staff helped calm his nerves and already knowing so many of his teammates helped the transition.
The tradition of Lincoln County football and the high level of expectations came as a shock to him early, but it’s helped him thrive.
“The kids down here have that push to succeed and go far in the playoffs,” Gerard said. “I’ve seen kids who want to lift weights, want to come in early, want to do that extra lap, who scream and holler, ‘Let’s keep going.’ I was in shock. It’s great seeing that.”
The love of football instilled in him at an early age from his father has also been motivation to work through the toe injury and help his team. Gerard said his father continues to critique his games and offer support.
Wearing his father’s No. 5 from Georgia, Gerard is soaking up his short but sweet time playing on the same field on which Garrison once romped to legendary status. His father is also taking it in all in, just from a different angle.
“It’s always a warm spot when you see your child back where you started, getting a chance to play for the same team, come out on the same field,” the elder Hearst said. “It’s very fun and I’m very proud of him.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.