The Warriors have a new head coach in Doug Britten, their third in three years, new offensive and defensive systems, and a new region, 6-AAAAA.
“We’ve got some work to get done,” Britten said. “It’s coming around. I think we look better. We’re starting to look the part a little bit more but now we’ve got to get it into gear.”
Key returners on both sides of the ball include inside linebacker and offensive tackle Amon-Ra Clay, as well as cornerback and running back Cameron Callier, both seniors.
Graduation took its toll. They lost receivers Ryan Christian and Ryan Selby, defensive linemen Donald Phillips and Leo Jackson, linebacker Marcus Lee and linebacker and special teams contributor Khalid Pryer.
The Warriors have a little more than two weeks before they open at Stone Mountain and then get into their region schedule that begins with defending state Class AAAA champion Tucker. North Atlanta has an extremely tough season on the horizon that also includes MLK, Stephenson, Mays and Southwest DeKalb, all of whom made the playoffs in 2011. In a year of transition, that adds another wrinkle for the Warriors.
“I can’t imagine there’s a harder region in any classification,” Britten said.
North Atlanta, meanwhile, jumped from Class AAA and hasn’t reached the postseason in 16 years. The Warriors went 7-3 in 2010, their best mark since 1996, under Brian Montgomery but slumped to 2-7 last year in Stanley Pritchett’s lone season at the helm. They were unable to recover from the ACL tear of star running back Justin Taylor, who missed nearly the entire season after suffering the injury in practice last September.
Under Britten, North Atlanta will install a multiple Wing-T offense and multiple 3-4 defense and plans to stick to those formations through thick and thin. Britten said the Warriors need to create and retain an identity on both sides of the ball and that decisions have to be made about the program, not just about the first year of the program.
Britten worked with linebackers at West Forsyth the past two seasons and is in his 18th year coaching overall, but this is his first head coaching job.
“The reason I coach football is because coaching in football has the most outcome on wins and losses and affects kids more than any other sport,” he said.
Aug. 31 at Stone Mountain (Avondale Stadium)
Sept. 7 Tucker* (Grady Stadium)
Sept. 15 at Miller Grove* (Avondale)
Sept. 22 M.L. King* (Lakewood Stadium)
Sept. 28 at Mays* (Lakewood)
Oct. 13 Southwest DeKalb* (Georgia Dome)
Oct. 20 Arabia Mountain* (Grady)
Oct. 26 at Dunwoody* (N. DeKalb Stadium)
Nov. 2 at Lakeside* (Grady)
Nov. 9 at Stephenson* (Hallford Stadium)
*denotes region game