Nine teams – Arabia Mountain, Clarkston, Dunwoody, Lakeside, M.L. King, Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb, Stephenson, and defending AAAA state champions Tucker – are all in the newly reconstructed region 6-AAAAA.
DeKalb football and head coaches from Decatur High, Marist and St. Pius X discussed the new regional placements on July 18 at the 2012 DeKalb Football Media Day at James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston.
The rivalry between the MLK Lions and Stephenson Jaguars moved from region 2-AAAAA to 6-AAAAA.
MLK finished the 2011 season undefeated and won the region 2 title after defeating Stephenson. The Lions got to the third round and lost to Lassiter High.
Mike Carson, MLK’s head coach, said he knows it’s going to be a challenge to win a regional title again but he and the Lions are looking forward it.
“It’s always our goal to start off every year to defend the region, win the region championship and go on to the state championship,” Carson said. “Anytime you add a team like Tucker and Southwest DeKalb, of course it gets tough on you to do that, but our kids have been working hard since January and through the summer.”
Ron Gartrell, Stephenson head coach, said he knows it’s not going to be a “cake walk” to the playoffs for the Jaguars this year as it has been in previous years.
“When you talk about those programs, you’re talking about some of the best programs in the state,” he said. “We hadn’t done well against Tucker, we lost the last two years to MLK, we never played Miller Grove, and in terms of head-to-head with Southwest DeKalb they’re leading us.”
Tucker, along with Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb and Lakeside, has moved up from Class AAAA to AAAAA. Although they have moved up in class, Tucker’s new head coach Bryan Lamar said he believes his team has what it takes to win another state title.
“At Tucker I think it’s just the expectation,” he said. “The kids believe that they can do it. It’s one of those things where it depends on how hard we work and how mature we can be to be able to handle the different diversities that hit us.”
After missing the playoffs by one game, Miller Grove head coach Damien Wimes said his team can get in the playoffs this year despite the challenges. He said that they have the pieces this season to do it.
“This is going to be a team that’s selfless and has the best team chemistry,” he said. “I think that we’ve improved our offensive line and defensive line and that’s the difference this year.”
Other regional changes include Columbia and Stone Mountain moving up from region 5-AAA to 6-AAAA. They are joining Chamblee, Lithonia and Redan.
Cross Keys moves up from AA to AAA and will join Cedar Grove, McNair and Towers in region 6-AAA.