While, thousands of people are expected to be at Harmon Field in Dalton Friday, one fan will be missing.
The Dalton community is coming together to support a cyclist, who was hit by a police officer.
Georgia state patrol says 54-year-old Ernest Cooper is in serious condition at a local hospital.
Officer Allexis Rittenhouse, with the Dalton Police Department hit Cooper at the intersection of Thornton Avenue and Cuyler Street on Thursday. Right now, the crash is under investigation.
Cooper or “Big Red,” is well known in the community for being a super fan of Dalton athletics and will be missing his first home football game in decades as he recovers.
"He's pointing this way, he's calling out plays that's why it's not the same when he's not here because he's just such a visible, excited and sometimes over excited,” said Chuck Harris, a friend of Cooper.
That won't be the case this Friday night, because he’s unable to leave the hospital during his recovery at Hamilton Medical Center where he is being treated for significant injuries.
"It’s heart wrenching when you see him he's battered and bruised. He’s in the surgery intensive care and he had a four hour surgery on his right leg,” Harris said.
In Dalton, some would say Big Red, - is a big deal. He’s known for riding his bike around town to help others.
"He’s to me somebody that reminds me what this sport is all about," described Dalton High Head Football Coach, Matt Land.
Land says Big Red, has been a beloved supporter of Dalton high football for decades. Always offering advice on some new plays for the team.
"I have to constantly remind him though we can only play with 11, so 17 and 13 blocks a whole lot better than 11,” Land said.
Dalton will host Harrison High School and fans will be standing for a moment of silence prior to kickoff.
Senior Colton Fromm said it won't be the same, playing without Big Red for the first time in years.
"We know that this is a very important part of his life, and he's very important to us and we know that a big win is gonna be what he wanted. So we're going to do everything we can to bring him home a win," Fromm said.
Big Red, has a long recovery ahead, but just as it says when you walk into the stadium it says the Dalton High Catamounts are "United As One."
Dalton High School has set up a fund to support Big Red if you would like to help they ask that you contact the school until an online support page is set up.
Sunday, January 21 2018 12:50 AM EST2018-01-21 05:50:24 GMT
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