Last year in his second season as Riverdale’s coach, Downs motivated the Raiders to a 7-4 record, including a playoff appearance for the first time since 2006. But instead of continuing his tenure in Clayton County, Downs decided to occupy the position left open by Aaron Whittington at Creekside.
“It’s a new challenge,” Downs said. “It’s somewhat different from the first challenge of rebuilding Riverdale because Creekside is a place where they’ve been winning. It’s not necessarily restoring the pride but trying to lift the program to the next level.”
In 2012, the Seminoles went 7-4 also and advanced to the postseason.
“We’re very excited about the process that we are embarking on and our mission is just good to great,” Downs said.
Creekside is built to reach this expectation with nine players returning on offense and eight on defense, including twins Elliot and Evan Berry.
“The Berry brothers have been a blessing to coach so far,” Downs said. “Nothing but humble young men. They are very coachable. They work extremely hard and are leaders of the team.”
The Berry twins have been offered scholarships by Tennessee, where their father, James, and brother, Eric, played, along with many other schools from the SEC and ACC.
“It’s a blessing to see kids who people think have everything but are still humble and you couldn’t tell those guys from anyone else in the pack,” Downs said.
While the number of players returning on offense isn’t an issue for Downs, the quarterback position is.
“Right now, we do not have an established leader at quarterback,” Downs said. “That is one of our weak spots. We’re trying to figure out who is going to be the leader of that team. Even though we returned a lot of kids on offense, this is still a much younger group.”
Last season, Evan Berry took a number of snaps at quarterback. Asania Aderhold is competing for the job as well.