JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Football fans wanting to attend a Saturday game will no longer have to travel outside of North Fulton or Forsyth County. The Georgia Cardinals recently announced the team will be based out of Chattahoochee High School beginning in the 2019 season.
The Cardinals are a program within the Developmental Football International organization, which serves as a platform for experienced athletes to train and play to earn a shot at entering the college or professional ranks in the Arena Football League or the Canadian Football League.
The Cardinals were formed in 2012 and joined DFI for the 2018 season. The league also has teams based on the west coast and Florida, Alabama, Texas and North Carolina.
The team will play its home games on Saturdays throughout the season. While the full schedule has not been finalized, the Cardinals will kick off their 2019 campaign Sept 7 at Chattahoochee.
Cardinals’ Marketing Director Cheryl Hernandez said the games will have a family atmosphere with halftime entertainment in addition to on-field play. She said a family of four can attend a game for around $30.
The team was founded in 2012 by husband and wife Leonard and Cindy Holmes of Forsyth County. Leonard, a former college and professional player in arena football, brought a knowledge of the sport while his wife brought business savvy, and the organization was created with an emphasis on high quality football, faith and giving back to the community.
Leonard said there were many incentives to move the Cardinals to Chattahoochee.
“I always knew about the facility, and they have made some great updates with the new turf and weight room,” he said. “This is also an area where we know a lot of people, there is a good economy and a lot of youth organizations and charities we can be a part of. Chattahoochee has been great supporters for us.”
Leonard said the move will allow residents of North Fulton and Forsyth County to witness high-caliber athletes compete in a unique league.
“The league is all about getting a second chance,” he said. “We have had players who are homeless and great athletes. They have a passion and love for the game, but people don’t always know their situation. We also have players who maybe didn’t have the grades to get into college, but they may be a 5-star athlete.”
Leonard said a player on the team this year was with Troy University, but changes in the coaching staff left him without a spot on the Trojans’ roster for 2019.
Eight players on last year’s squad are now in the arena football ranks and a few other players returned to collegiate programs.
Cardinals’ head coach Don Hernandez, who has 45 years of coaching and playing experience, said players will focus on technique training, but a strong emphasis of the team is developing players off the field as well.
“It’s a lot more than football,” he said. “We are building character and building men, football is just a tool.”
Cheryl Hernandez said the team will continue to benefit and support local charities. The organization has been active with the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Jeffrey Campbell Evans Foundation and Toys for Tots while being active with local youth sports organizations and camps.
For more information about the Georgia Cardinals, visit georgiacardinalsfootball.com.