The Warriors will be among the eight teams playing in the event, which is held by Atlanta Public Schools and is mainly comprised of teams from the district.
It will be the second year in a row and the third time overall that North Atlanta will make an appearance. The Warriors lost to Washington 6-0 last year and fell to Carver of Atlanta 29-18 in the inaugural event in 2009.
It’s the first appearance in the dome for North Atlanta’s first-year coach Doug Britten, who is looking forward to leading his team onto the field where the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons play and which hosts the state championship game for all six classifications.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Britten said. “It’s exciting for the kids to play in the biggest venue in Atlanta.”
Adding to the challenge of playing in a 71,228-seat stadium for North Atlanta is the task of facing a Southwest DeKalb team that has been one of the elite programs in the state for the past several decades.
However, with North Atlanta (0-5) in the midst of a rebuilding process, playing Southwest DeKalb is simply the latest hurdle to overcome for Britten’s developing squad.
“Right now, every game is a challenge for us,” Britten said. “We’re just focusing on getting better every week and not necessarily on our opponents. Southwest DeKalb is a great team and it’s a great opportunity to play them in the Georgia Dome.”
North Atlanta has taken its share of lumps in its first year of rebuilding under Britten’s tutelage as it navigated a tough early season schedule that included last year’s Class AAAA champion, Tucker, and AAAAA state semifinalist M.L. King.
But, that was what expected by Britten, who is the third head coach that the Warriors have had in as many years.
“These young men, specifically the seniors, have had three head coaches in four years and that’s tough,” Britten said. “We also switched to the Wing-T on offense and 3-4 on defense, so they have had to learn a whole new system. But, the kids are working hard and they are coming together as a team.”
Making the rebuilding process even more of a test for North Atlanta is moving up to Class AAAAA from AAA this year and playing in a competitive Region 6AAAAA, which features state powerhouses Tucker, Stephenson and M.L. King as well as Southwest DeKalb.
“Moving up to AAAAA from AAA makes it tougher,” Britten said. “We’re also playing in the one of the toughest regions in the state, with [those teams], so it’s been a challenge for us.”
Senior Amon-Ra Clay has led the way for North Atlanta at linebacker, tight end and offensive tackle, while senior center Chart Riggall anchors the Warrior offensive line.