It was one of those rare things you couldn’t resist because of the symmetry involved…
In Adel, it’s Dr. Michael McCartney at Adel Dental Associates. In Valdosta, it’s Dr. Ron Reagin with his own practice. During a Friday evening, they found themselves in the same place to entertain a different clientele.
These are the respective play-by-play voices of the Cook Hornets and Valdosta Wildcats as the two teams faced off at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in an out-of-region match. Valdosta won 34-7, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Dr. McCartney grew up outside New York and listened to the voices of people like Marv Albert breaking it all down for his hometown teams. He would add the voice of University of Georgia, Scott Howard, as a touchstone of his emotion and approach. Dr Reagin is from Moultrie, played in Colquitt County under head coach Jim Hughes and grew up listening to local radio legends Durwood Dominy, Darrell Strange and Jim Turner.
And these are their points of reference when telling their respective stories on Football Fridays.
“I started in 2002 and I was doing voiceover work at the station that airs Hornets games,” McCartney explains. “One of the broadcast team members wanted to go back to coaching and they asked me on the radio if I wanted to do that. I had to ask my wife if it would be okay because it would take up our Friday nights. She said yes and started out as a color commentator before switching to play-by-play four or five years later.
“In 2016 my daughter was a cheerleader and I was spending time on the sidelines. So I was getting to know the fans and the side job as a reporter opened up to being on the air with Monty Long and Dirk Harrell. C t was around the same time that Alan Rodemaker became head coach so there was also a natural fit. After two years on the sidelines Monty moved up north and they came to me and asked if I wanted to resume game by game.
“I told them I liked being on the sidelines and I liked being there with the kids. But Dirk really opted for the outright sale.
Dirk went to see Dr. Reagin and told him he really wanted him to do it. So Ron settled into the play-by-play chair and admits he was surprised at how well it turned out. He misses the sidelines and huddles – those sounds you don’t get from being in the press box – but he loves his job and being with Dirk in the booth.
Dr McCartney admits he’s a little busier adding tasks to the Cook Touchdown Club as they get together more as the season picks up pace. He’ll spend four to five hours with his reports, preps and whatever else he’s printed to work for the coach’s show and Hornet games. The program itself has played a non-regional program and has come a long way since the late 1990s. There have been back-to-back semifinal appearances, and the team has made the playoffs every year since.
“When I came here from the northeast,” McCartney says, “the teams weren’t very good. You had a situation where the coaches wouldn’t let their players cross paths and play other sports. You also Had a situation where there were other kids wandering the halls and you thought, ‘Why doesn’t he play sports here?’ These students would go to jobs and such.
“But things have really changed. Football is really part of the fabric of the community here. You can also talk about the new stadium here, as part of it all.
Everyone knows Valdosta’s pedigree, but last year was an anomaly. With a post-season ban in effect, there was nothing to play for.
“It was a different year,” admits Reagin. “You really couldn’t have any expectations even though they are normally always winning a region and winning a state title. The expectations here are always high and the fans expect you to play for one title each year.
“The kids have really responded to Coach (Shelton) Felton and it reminds me of when Coach Rodemaker was here. He and the staff may be tough on the kids but they love them. You see a lot of that from Coach Felton here.
Reagin and the Valdosta Wildcats have an hour-long pre-game show and they hosted Cook in town. They welcomed McCartney and his team in their first segment before Doc Mike had to start his 30-minute pre-game himself.
Two dentists, one pre-game, no appointment necessary to listen.
“It’s ironic, but it’s a lot of fun,” McCartney says. “Believe it or not, there was a third dentist, Dr. Ashley Moorman, who was on the South Georgia rotation when he called the Valwood games and they played at our schools here.”
“I didn’t know Mike’s story before I started here,” admits Reagin. “I miss things since I don’t have social media. But we are colleagues in different ways now. There were times when we crossed paths as dentists. We would have patients coming from different directions and referrals and they would relate to us.
They are linked again.
McCartney admits his style tries to be as pragmatic without being a home run. Reagin would listen to Monty Long, formerly the voice of the Wildcats, and has him and Florida play-by-play announcer Mick Hubert as points of reference. You will be able to recognize him by his large information sheet that he brings to the booth. If there’s any information he thinks he needs for a game, it’s on this sheet.
When you ask these two passionate announcers about their teams, McCartney thinks Cook head coach Byron Slack is going to put his best 11 against the other top 11 with around 55 kids on his roster this season.
“Coach Slack will tell everyone that we all put on our uniforms the same way and they won’t fear anyone when they lock the doors and get ready to play. They didn’t flinch last week against a 7A school at Valdosta – even in a 27-point loss. The kids played very competitively. This will be another measuring stick playing in Brooks County this week.
McCartney thinks the early season predictions of where Cook will end up in the region are a bit low. Same for the Reagin Wildcats: “People think Colquitt is the team to beat, but I think we’ll be there with them in the 1-7A region.”
It’s safe to say it wasn’t like pulling teeth for these two to talk about their similarities – on and off the pitch. But, when you get them to open up, their mentors come from neighboring legends who are great guides for us all on Football Fridays.
Enough with the dental puns for a week, right?
But when the doctor sees you, we’ll hear him bring the story to two great footballing communities this season – and beyond…
Play it safe, everyone… I’ll see you soon…