BY KRISTI REED
This Friday night, Dacula High School and Mill Creek High School would like nothing better than to see the other team lose. But until noon today, the two schools have united to fight a common enemy – Newnan/LaGrange.
This week, Fox 5 Atlanta’s High 5 Sports held its first ever game of the week poll on the station’s web site. Visitors to the site could select one of five games to be the game of the week. In addition to the Mill Creek v. Dacula game, voters could choose from LaGrange v. Newnan, Southwest DeKalb v. Martin Luther King Jr. High School, Mays v. Carver-Atlanta and Marist v. St. Pius.
Early Thursday, over 12,000 votes had been cast in the online poll. By late afternoon, that number had risen to over 21,000.
Fox 5 executive sports producer Chip Zeller said the station was very pleased with the response.
“We are obviously just thrilled with the amount of hits and the amount of voting going on,” he said.
Zeller said in one ten minute period, he and his co-workers watched as hundreds of votes were tallied.
“I never imagined it would be like this,” Zeller said.
Perhaps he underestimated the fanaticism of local high school sports fans.
Zeller, whose wife teaches at Dacula High School, said the Falcons were working feverishly to drive up the vote totals for the Dacula v. Mill Creek game.
The Mill Creek community has been doing the same. With email reminders and message board threads encouraging people to vote early and vote often, Mill Creek fans have been clicking away hoping to get their school on television.
Zeller said the poll has been widely discussed on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. The station has also received numerous calls, he said.
One caller from Newnan complained that she and 40 others were voting from their computers and their votes were not making a difference in the percentage totals, Zeller said.
With votes pouring in at such a high rate yesterday, it was taking a lot of votes to move the percentage margins.
By 10 p.m. last night, the vote total had jumped from 21,000 to 27,000. Mill Creek/Dacula, which had been leading by eight percentage points earlier in the day, had fallen behind by three percentage points. By six a.m., the Newnan-Lagrange contingent had extended their lead by 17 percentage points.
By 8 a.m., over 36,000 votes had been cast.
Zeller hoped that Dacula and Mill Creek fans would not be too disappointed if their game was not selected as game of the week.
“Even if you don’t win the poll, your game is going to be on television,” he said.
Highlights from the game will be shown during the evening news broadcast and on the station’s Saturday sports show “High 5 Sports.”
Zeller said fans will have more opportunities to support their team throughout the season with the station’s “Team of the Week” poll. Mill Creek and Dacula fans can vote for their teams beginning next week.
In the meantime, Zeller and his crew are enjoying the results of their inaugural poll.
“People are interested, they’re into it and we’re excited about the response,” he said.