Photo by Heather Middleton
The beginning stretch of Drew High's second varsity season resembles that of a more established football program.
It is the way that head coach Jarrett Laws likes it.
Drew will open on the road against Cairo, a state-championship caliber program. The Titans will take on Episcopal of Florida in the second game before taking on two-time defending state champion Sandy Creek.
It was recently announced that the Sandy Creek game will be a part of the Great American Football Classic played at the Georgia Dome.
While Sandy Creek is no stranger to the Dome, Drew will be making its inaugural appearance in the 71,000-seat facility in downtown Atlanta.
Laws is hoping it won't be the team's last. He would prefer a late December date at the Georgia Dome. The state championship for all five classes is held in the Dome in December.
Laws said the game against Sandy Creek on Sept. 17 is one of the first steps in instilling a championship caliber mentality in his players.
"You couldn't pay for the advertisement this game in the Dome will be for our program," Law said. "How can you ever go to a place that you have never been until you learn the way to get there. This stands as an unique opportunity for us. If our goal is to some day win a state championship, we have to play games like this."
Before taking on the challenge of starting a program from scratch two years ago, Laws was a successful coach at Mount Zion. In his final season of two at the school, Laws' 2009 team came within two points of reaching the Class AAAA semifinals.
The Titans were 2-8 last season, its first playing a full varsity schedule. Highlighting the season was a 14-7 win at Eastside, which was ranked at the time.
With the school's first senior class, Laws is expecting more improvement from the team.
The schedule is very tough, especially the first half with Cairo, Episcopal and Sandy Creek.
"We are hoping to lay the foundation for this program," Laws said.
More importantly, college coaches have found their way to the school. Two players have already garnered scholarship offers from SEC schools. Earlier this year, Laws said he will model his approach at Stephenson High in DeKalb County, which routinely has a high number of players sign scholarships.
So far this season, Stephenson has 10 players that have made commitments to major colleges.
If Laws can have the team competitive on the field, and place a number of players in college, he will have succeeded in his goal.
It was two years ago that I first met Laws at a recruiting fair in Henry County. He had a team with a bunch of sophomores, but yet Laws was dubbing DVDs for college coaches and promoting the players.
Now, the team is awaiting success on the field as part of building a solid foundation for one of the southside's newest schools. If Laws continues to follow the formula he has planned, it shouldn't be long before on-field success follows.
Derrick Mahone covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.