For the second year in a row, automotive students from Evans High School recently won the state Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.
In the contest, held this month in Atlanta, Evans seniors Derrick Jackson and Ryan Cutcliffe, both 18, defeated 10 other automotive teams from throughout Georgia.
That win made them eligible to compete at the national championship in Dearborn, Mich., from June 25-28.
"Winning a national championship would be nice, but if we don't, we can always say we got the state title," Cutcliffe said. "That's still cool."
Keeping his cool wasn't as easy for Jackson leading up to the state competition.
"I was pretty nervous," he said. "I knew we had a good chance, but I still had some butterflies. But once it started, I was good."
Each team at the state competition was given a 2006 Ford Focus, all with the same mechanical failings, to work on.
Employing a divide-and-conquer strategy, Cutcliffe handled the engine repairs while Jackson tackled the car's electrical issues.
Although the teens finished second, they were the only team to successfully complete all the repairs, putting them over the top for the win.
It was the second year Evans High students entered the competition under the direction of automotive teacher Jason Brooks, a third-year teacher at the school.
Brooks plans to continue coaching the team through the national competition, but then he is leaving Evans to take the automotive teaching position at Thomson High School, his alma mater and where, as a student, he won the student auto skills contest in 1998.
Despite his defection to Thomson, Brooks said he wouldn't be surprised if Evans won the contest a third time.
"I'd be very excited for them if they won it again," he said. "I may no longer be at the school, but I'd still feel a connection to them, because I would have taught them."
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