Warner Robins — On Tuesday, Mark and Paul Sams will head to Mercedes-Benz stadium to support their nephew Connor, and Mark's son, Shane, in Warner Robins' High School's state championship football game. The pair of brothers can empathize with their kinfolks on the feelings and emotions of a championship game since they won one themselves.
Paul and Mark were offensive linemen on Warner Robins' 1988 state championship football team.
"We had a lot of great coaches to play under, work with," Mark said. "And a lot of great teammates that were not only great football players, but great friends and still are today."
The Sams family is no stranger to championship games. Besides Paul and Mark's championship win in 1988, their older brother, David, played in a state championship game in 1985 and Shane Sams won a title with the Demons in 2004.
The pair of brothers said that their team took a certain pride in wearing the red, black, and white. There was an immense pressure to live up to the hype of Warner Robins football.
"You just knew what was expected because where we practiced at you could see the weight room right there -- 76, 81, state and national title," Paul said.
The brothers have many sweet memories of their time on the gridiron, including the whole school getting cake and ice cream after the championship win, but few things were sweeter than beating crosstown rivals, the Northside Eagles, twice in the same year on the way to the title.
"If you're going to ask any Warner Robins Demon what their greatest memories are, they're always going to tell you beating Northside," Mark said. "We were fortunate to play Northside twice and beat them twice."
Nothing could beat the feeling of hoisting the trophy and the community support that came with it, they said.
"The state championship was special because our family came down from West Virginia and that was special," Paul said. "The whole school was behind us, the community was behind us."
The Sams brothers acknowledge that the game has changed since they tossed the pigskin, including the amount of passing done by 2018's Warner Robins Demons, but one thing that will never change is the amount of preparation that goes into Warner Robins football.
"One similarity is the team concept and number one is the preparation. The coaches spent a tremendous amount of time preparing us," Mark said.
The brothers offered up advice to their nephew and son prior to Tuesday's big game. Namely, remember that it's still just a game and to take it all in.
"Enjoy everything about this process and enjoy everything that they've accomplished because there's so many players that don't get to play in a game like this," Mark said.
Warner Robins High School will take on Bainbridge at 4:30 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.