Two Cherokee County residents took home the top prizes in the 2013 Cherokee Tribune UPICKEM contest that recently ended.
The competition, presented online by the Tribune, was a game where participants were charged with predicting the winners of local high school, college and professional football games over a 12-week period.
Holly Springs Elementary School Special Education teacher JJ Cantrell took home the first-place prize of an Apple iPad from Superior Plumbing.
Cantrell, of Holly Springs, has a history in sports, coaching at Etowah and Cherokee high schools. He’s coached football, basketball and baseball, but credited his win simply to luck.
Cantrell said he followed the high school football teams in the paper, and he didn’t second-guess his choices, he just picked them.
“Stick with your first decision and don’t change your mind,” he said.
Cantrell said he decided to play the game while reading the Tribune online, and seeing the contest advertised on the website.
Each week, participants chose the teams they thought would win each game and received points for every correct guess. For picking correctly, players got two points for each local high school game, and one point for each college or professional football game.
Each week there were first- and second-place winners who took home a selection of gifts from companies across Cherokee County, and when the game concluded, two overall winners were named.
Out of 184 total possible points, Cantrell scored a 128. He also took home a selection of gifts from local businesses, worth more than $700, for scoring the highest in Week 2, and second-highest in Week 10, along with his grand prize iPad.
The second place overall winner was Jim Harris, of Canton, who took home the second-place prize of a $300 gift certificate from Key’s Jewelry.
Harris said he’d probably spend the prize on a gift for his wife, “maybe a watch…for Christmas.”
Harris, who works at Home Depot in Kennesaw, said he’s followed high school football closely for the past few years, since his son plays for Sequoyah High School.
“For the most part, I just went with what my gut told me,” Harris said of his winning method.
Harris not only placed second overall, but was also the top player for weeks four and ten, and the second-best player in Week 2. In total, Harris won more than $1,200 for weekly wins, along with the $300 gift certificate.
“It was incredible, I didn’t have any idea that the prizes were going to be what they were, they were great prizes and we have thoroughly enjoyed it,” Harris said.
Many local businesses in Cherokee supported the game by donating 12 weeks of gift certificates to the winner’s prize bags.
First-place weekly winners, received a total prize package worth more than $500, and second-place weekly winners took home more than $200 in prizes.
Kim Fowler, advertising manager for the Cherokee Tribune, worked with local businesses to put together the prize packages, and said that the competition was a huge success because of the generosity of local businesses.
“They were very generous and enthusiastic about the contest. We developed it to get the local community excited about following high school games,” Fowler said.
The contest was sponsored by the Tribune and news partner Fox 5 Atlanta, along with three main businesses: Bill Holt Chevrolet in Canton, United Community Bank and Williamson Brothers Bar-B-Q.