Dekalb football has statement weekend

For the first time since 2017, DeKalb has more than three teams in the Elite Eight of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Football State Playoffs — with Cedar Grove, Columbia, Marist, and Stephenson high schools winning second-round playoff games on Nov. 17.

Not only did the county send the most teams to the Elite Eight since 2017, but not a single DeKalb team lost in the second round. This comes in the same year that DeKalb had its most overall playoff teams since 2018.

The wins make a statement for the state of DeKalb football — not only showing that the overall level of play is near the top in the state but also showing the value of investing in DeKalb football.

The county was set back during the pandemic when local school districts imposed more and longer-lasting restrictions than many neighboring counties. Now that programs have rebuilt rosters and made coaching changes, things are starting to click again.

The next step for DeKalb County School District is to follow a standard set by some past programs and some neighboring programs such as Marist and St. Pius X Catholic high schools and lock down its successful coaches. With the amount of talent in DeKalb and the way the county and its residents love football, it’s time to see some more long coaching tenures in DeKalb and more resources for those coaches.

It could be a transition period, considering long-time winning coaches such as Stephenson’s Ron Gartrell and Southwest DeKalb’s Buck Godfrey are no longer on the sidelines. However, DeKalb has new successful coaches around the county such as Cedar Grove’s John Adams and Stephenson’s Marcus Jelks who deserve a chance to build—or continue building—powerhouses in the county.

The same goes for the turnaround jobs that Greg Barnett (Columbia), Bob Swank (Chamblee), Frederick Greene (Druid Hills), Michael Nash (Dunwoody), Morris Starr (Lakeside), Wayne Jones (Tucker), and other DeKalb coaches have completed in recent years. DeKalb has an excellent group of coaches and needs to keep it intact.

These coaches getting locked down won’t just sustain the current level of success we’re already seeing, it’ll elevate it—which is shown by the teams seeing continuity at the coaching position, with Cedar Grove and Marist winning state titles and setting local and national marks in the NFL Draft. It doesn’t stop there, the county has had two alumni make headlines as NFL coaches in recent years, with Marist alum Sean McVay even winning a Super Bowl for the Rams. Nazir Stackhouse is leading a defense for the University of Georgia that could win its third consecutive national title this season, while other alumni such as Rock Ya-Sin and Kyle Hamilton continue to make big plays for their teams.

DeKalb football is on the rise, and now is the time to invest money, time, and resources into ensuring it keeps rising.


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