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MILTON, Ga. (AP) — The lawn in front of Milton High School looks big enough for a football field and provides a grand welcome mat to a building that would fit right in on the campus of a prestigious college, with its colonnade leading to an entrance of glass doors and tall windows.
The 14-year-old building is quiet and mostly dark on this Friday night in northern Fulton County, some 30 miles from downtown Atlanta. The action is at nearby Eagle Stadium, where thousands pack the bleachers to watch their defending state champions face perennial power Buford High.
Milton is an old school, it turns 100 next year, but a new football power. Last year’s title was the Eagles’ first, another source of pride for a small city — incorporated in 2006 — that is one of the wealthiest in the state. Milton coach Adam Clack has lived through the growth of north-central Georgia over the last two decades. It is startling.
“This was horse farms,” Clack said.
The population of the Atlanta metropolitan area has boomed, adding 663,000 residents since 2010 to make it the fourth-fastest growing in the United States. The surge has created vibrant, even affluent suburbs and exurbs, such as Milton.
It also has boosted the quality and depth of high school football in a state where both were already among the best in the country. Many public schools are running well-resourced programs that lure top coaches from neighboring states with big salaries and prepare players for the next level with operations that mimic elite colleges.
Georgia has become the clear No. 4 state behind Texas, Florida and California when it comes to producing football players for major college programs. Recruiters from all over the country flock to Atlanta to find talent, but many of these players are staying close to home and stocking the rosters of the nearby
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