On Aug. 19, Mikey McIntire was lining up for the Harlem High School football team as the Bulldogs traveled to Lincoln County for their season-opener.
Four days later, the sophomore was back on campus in Lincolnton. This time, though, his parents were enrolling him in school there after they finalized a move from Harlem.
The Bulldogs lost that opener 69-6 and have been dealing with lack of depth at many positions. Stan and Tish McIntire said that some have blamed them for jumping ship from a struggling team to a renowned powerhouse.
"I wish football was the reason we've leaving," Tish McIntire said. "I wish it was that simple."
She noted that the family had been mulling a move toward Clarks Hill Lake for "quite some time."
"My husband's a big lake person; he loves to fish," Tish McIntire said. "We've been talking about it. Honestly, due to some personal family issues and everything, we were going to have to make a move away from Harlem."
Lincoln County coach Larry Campbell said that until Mikey McIntire's eligibility was determined by the Georgia High School Association he will not be able to practice or play with the Red Devils' varsity team.
He said that any criticism of such transfers is unfair to the Lincoln County staff.
"I've not been in this business for 41 years doing anything illegal and I'm not going to do anything illegal," said Campbell, who holds the career wins record among high school coaches in the state of Georgia. "I've never been questioned in 41 years."
Meanwhile, Jimmie Lewis, who coached McIntire in football and in baseball at Harlem, said he had no comment.
Mikey McIntire has had two brothers graduate from Harlem: Stanley in 2005 and Zach in 2011.
Stanley McIntire said things turned sour quickly on Tuesday.
"It started out with people being happy for him and wanting to wish him the best," he said. "They wanted to know the best way to get in touch with him.
"But when I talked to him, he was like, 'I got back in the car with mom and I had 30 something messages, all of them just mad at me.'"
He said that it was unfair to pile criticism onto a 15-year-old.
"I could understand if the whole thing was up to him," Stanley McIntire said. "The problem is he's 15 ... and there are no circumstances that you can put him in for it to be his choice (to move). ... It amazed me, everything that was being said."
The McIntires said they were most concerned when a post surfaced on a message board on www.scout.com, a popular high school football Web site.
"Instead of bad-mouthing or putting one down, maybe you ought to be proud to know that he did come from Harlem," Stan McIntire said. "It just wasn't in the cards because of personal family issues that we had to move.
"We have the utmost respect of the coaching staff at HHS, and we know that they helped make Mikey into the athlete he has become."
After a strong freshman season last year, McIntire ran for 60 yards in the season-opener. He was one of the team's starting backs.
On the baseball field, McIntire plays second base and was one of Harlem's best hitters.
Tish McIntire had worked in the Columbia County school system prior to the move and said she has always put a focus on education.
"It really irritates me that someone thinks I'm going to go to another school for a sport," she said. "Anyone who really knows me knows that academics comes first."
As for the move being about athletics, she said that it just doesn't make sense.
"Mikey's also a great baseball player," Tish McIntire said. "If it's all about sports, why wouldn't we have found a school that was really good in both? That's not the case.
"It's really nobody's business," she added. "It's a family decision."
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