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Druid Hills gears up for challenges of Class AAAAAA
by Greg Oshust
October 02, 2012 03:36 PM | 2626 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal.Druid Hills kicker Ben Whealer gets ready to punt the ball during practice.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal.Druid Hills kicker Ben Whealer gets ready to punt the ball during practice.
Druid Hills faces its biggest challenge yet as it joins the state’s highest classification.
The Red Devils are now a member of Class AAAAAA, taking a big leap forward after playing in AAA the last several years.
Going head to head with the state’s biggest schools is a daunting task for Druid Hills, which is playing in Region 2AAAAAA the next couple of years.
But, it’s one that coach Kip Hall and his Red Devils are looking forward to.
“We’re excited about it,” said Hall, who is in his seventh year at the Druid Hills helm. “It’s a big challenge for us, but the kids are excited about it. They don’t care if it’s AAAAAA, it’s still football to them.. The kids are up for it.”
Druid Hills certainly didn’t have it easy in its Class AAAAAA debut last Friday as it faced state powerhouse and 2AAAAAA foe Lovejoy, which itself moved up a couple of classifications after winning the state title in AAAA last year.
The Red Devils took their lumps on Friday as they lost 58-3 to the Wildcats at North DeKalb Stadium.
Druid Hill’s loss to Lovejoy shows Hall the pitfalls that his team face as they play the bigger schools in AAAAAA.
“Lovejoy has 150 players and our numbers are still at the AAA level,” Hall said. “We moved up to AAAAAA because of some school closings, but we’re still smaller than most AAAAAA teams.”
However, Hall has no doubt that his team has the talent to compete with the teams in the state’s largest classification.
“We’ve gone to summer camp with Brunswick and Camden County and those are some great programs in AAAAAA,” Hall said. “We’ve competed against Camden in 7-on-7 tournaments and we’ve beaten them. I know it’s only 7-on-7, but football is football. We know we have the talent to compete at that level and the kids are confident that they can compete at at that level."
Before the loss to Lovejoy, Druid Hills (2-2, 0-1) was off to a strong start with two wins in its first three games.
The Red Devils opened the season with a convincing 33-2 victory over Clarkston, then lost a close 28-21 decision to Chamblee before bouncing back the following week with a 27-6 win over Therrell.
“I was a little disappointed with the loss to Chamblee, because we could have beaten them,” Hall said. “But I’m very pleased with our start and the kids are doing a great job.”
It is a young Druid Hills team that is making its AAAAAA debut, with a majority of the roster consisting of underclassmen.
“We’re very young,” Hall said. “We have 39 players who are either freshmen or sophomores and we have three or four freshmen or sophomores on defense. We have freshmen playing both ways for us (offense and defense). But, they are very talented players, so I’m excited about the future of our program.”
Senior wide receiver/defensive back Jaquan Johnson leads a talented Druid Hills lineup that also includes senior quarterback/cornerback Kyle Simmons, freshman offensive lineman/defensive lineman Hakeem Enis, senior defensive tackle/offensive lineman Desi Bigby, senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Luis Gutirrez, senior linebacker D’Andre Byrd and junior kicker/punter Ben Whealler, who is emerging as a Division I prospect.

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