High school football season kicked off in DeKalb County on Aug. 17 and Lakeside and Druid Hills picked up their first wins of 2023 following landmark seasons for both squads in 2022.
Lakeside beat Berkmar 24-6 at Adams Stadium while Druid Hills beat KIPP Academy 26-6 at Avondale Stadium. Towers was the only other DeKalb team in action and fell 20-6 against Rutland.
Lakeside and Berkmar had an eventful first 20 minutes, but the two teams were tied at zero until Lakeside scored a touchdown at the 1:17 mark of the second quarter.
Despite the zero-zero tie, the first half saw the Patriots from Berkmar open up with a methodical drive that was highlighted by a fade route along the left sideline that set up a red zone opportunity.
No points were scored by Berkmar as Jon-Luc Noison intercepted a pass and returned it for a would-be touchdown that was called back for holding. Noison also had a long punt return that was called back for holding, leaving the teams tied at zero heading into the second quarter.
Lakeside moved down the field on an early second quarter possession, eating up a lot of clock in the process, but turned the ball over on fourth and goal from inside the one-yard line.
Then Noison took over another drive with several tackle-breaking runs and finished it off with a touchdown with 1:17 left before halftime.
Lakeside got the ball back quickly, and a pass interference call against Berkmar set the Vikings up in scoring position, which led to a chip shot from Jay Hanson to make it 10-0.
Noison kept it rolling in the second half, taking the opening play from scrimmage for a 79-yard rushing touchdown to make it 17-0.
Berkmar got on the board with 3:36 left in the third quarter when the quarterback found a wideout for a 35-yard diving touchdown catch.
Lakeside responded with a long touchdown drive that was capped off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Kyle Davis to make the score 24-6.
It looked like Berkmar would answer until a wide receiver dropped a deep pass on fourth down in the fourth quarter, letting Lakeside kill some clock before punting to eventually ice the game.
The opening day win comes a few months after Lakeside completed its best season since 2003, but Lakeside head coach Morris Starr said he and his team have already put that in the past.
“It was very important to win, but we had to make sure everyone was aware that what we did last year doesn’t matter this year. It feels good to reminisce but that’s stuff over. No one’s going to lay down because we won some game last year,” said Starr.
Winning every game, or least being competitive in each one, is the goal for this season as the Vikings will not be eligible for the playoffs with a non-region schedule.
“More importantly we want to make sure we try to improve and learn something every game. Do that and you’ll have a good chance to win every game,” added Starr.
A similar move worked for Chamblee, which won its first playoff game since 2007–in dominant fashion, 62-13 over McIntosh—after coming off the non-region schedule in 2022.
Starr will have a chance to lead his teams to those wins with a squad that returned several key players — highlighted by the backfield duo of Davis and Noison.
“That experience is valuable. They’ve been there before,” said Starr. “Our quarterback Kyle Davis is a great person and a great player, it’s just the icing on top that he plays quarterback for us.”
Noison led the way in game one, finishing with 200 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries — in addition to his interception return and several sizable punt returns.
The Vikings will be back in action on Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Northview High School.
Druid Hills 26, KIPP 7
A pair of big defensive plays helped the Druid Hills Red Devils a win a 26-7 season opener over KIPP Atlanta Collegiate at Avondale Stadium on Aug. 17.
Druid Hills’ John Golden had a fumble causing hit that set up a Druid Hills’ score after Xavier Norris recovered the fumble. Jaden George scored on a three-yard run, and Taylor Holloman recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the win.
Druid Hills (1-0) has now won three of its last five games dating back to last season after the Red Devils snapped a 19-game, two-season losing streak in August 2022.
Cover photo provided by @HerdLani