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MAHONE: Success should continue for Drew program

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

RIVERDALE — Teams are always looking for that “smooth transition” when they have to abruptly name a new coach.

Such was the case for Drew this spring when the only coach the program has known, Jarrett Laws, accepted a similar position at Griffin.

Laws, who built the program from scratch starting with the 2009 season, accepted the Griffin job on the eve of the start of spring practice.

With little time to launch a search for new coach, Drew principal Gary Townsend turned to the staff’s longest tenured coach Dorwyn Lyles to lead the program. Even if Townsend would have a more time, he said during spring drills that Lyles was the right person for the job.

So far, Lyles, the program’s former defensive coordinator, has not disappointed.

Three weeks ago, Drew won the NFL High School Player Development qualifier tournament at Twelve Oaks Stadium. The Titans earned the right to play in the next round at Maynard Jackson High in Atlanta on Wednesday.

However, a previous commitment to the Adidas 7-on-7 Tournament at McEachern High in Powder Springs, won out. Drew wouldn’t disappoint as they finished runner-up to Class AAAAAA Langston Hughes in the one-day tournament.

Not bad for a team that missed out on the playoffs last season.

It seems that the transition has proven to be a smooth one with Lyles taking over the helm.

There were probably some doubters about Lyles given his career coaching record of 3-27 with stops at Morrow (2003-04) and Mundy’s Mill (2008).

When you consider the two programs of his employment, one can’t hold that against him. Let’s be honest, Morrow is not the same program it was when it was considered a state powerhouse. The program has consistently been on the decline over the past couple decades.

Up until last year’s Class AAAAA quarterfinals run, Mundy’s Mill wasn’t exactly on most people’s radar.

In short, Lyles deserved a second, make that third, chance to prove he was worthy of a head-coaching gig. He did a solid job as the Titans defensive coordinator during the last five years.

Injuries to some key personnel was a big reason that the Titans suffered through a 4-6 record, and lost to upstart McIntosh in the Region 4-AAAAA play-in game. Drew also used some young, inexperienced talent at key position last season.

Those players are now a year smarter and experienced, which should help in challenging for a playoff spot.

Drew is breaking in a new quarterback, but the majority of the offensive line is back alone with running back Marquis Terry. Maurice Dixon has taken over at offensive coordinator as studying under the previous coordinator for several years.

He is also the offensive line coach.

While Drew’s offseason season success has been impressive, one must be warned that its only 7-on-7 drills. Although the competition has been good, its still passing league.

The true test will come with you add the full equipment, and the linemen.

Will Drew continue this success?

That will be answer when the lights come on starting in August. Regardless of what happens down the road, this has been a good confidence builder for the young players and the coaching staff.

Continuing this success will depend on how hard the team works and their dedication to getting better.

So far, it has been a good start to the Lyles era.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com. On Twitter? @DerrickMahone_