Stone Mountain finished last season with a record of 3-7 overall, gaining victories over North Atlanta, Redan and Therrel. “We had only 10 seniors on the team last year and the young guys got a lot of playing time,” said Dante Ferguson, who is entering his fifth year as head coach of the Pirates. “The players didn’t do a bad job last year but they made some young mistakes and we lost several close games.”
Leading the offense will be senior quarterback Corderal Cook, who was named to the All-Region team last season after passing for 17 touchdowns, which was the third-most in DeKalb County. He was also one of only four quarterbacks in the county to throw for more than 1,700 yards, finishing his 2012 campaign with 1,725 in the air. “Corderal is a physical beast,” said Ferguson. “He’s a quiet leader who leads by example and has done a good job for us the past two seasons.”
The offensive line will be anchored by seniors Austin Prayor and William Moore. The running back rotation will include seniors Stephen Sheppard, who had a team-high 440 yards rushing last season, Jordan Collier, an All-Region team member last year as a defensive back, and sophomore Michael Hector. Cook’s main throwing targets will be wide receiver Jaquon Golden and tight end Dante Ferguson Jr.
The defensive line will be the youngest unit on the Pirates but Demarious Leamon and Jason Lubin are expected to be solid contributors. The linebackers will be led by Collier, who finished last season in the top 10 within DeKalb County in tackles with 96. The secondary will have a versatile group of players who will split time between linebacker and defensive back in numerous Pirate positions including Gaston Kangi and Tyrus Webster. Defensive backs Raymone Jennings and Arlonzo Simpson have shown promise this summer to become major factors for the Pirates, who led the county with 12 forced fumbles last season.
Stone Mountain opens the season at home against Greater Atlanta Christian and then faces North Atlanta and Wesleyan before beginning play in Region 6-AAAA on the road at Washington-Atlanta Sept. 20. The rest of the Pirates’ region games will be home contests against Lithonia, Chamblee, Marist and Columbia and a road game at Redan.
“We’re in a very competitive region with a very disciplined team in Marist and an athletic squad like Columbia,” said Ferguson.
The focus now sharpens as the season opener against GAC Aug. 23 inches nearer with the Pirates averaging nearly 45 players per workout throughout this summer, knowing the importance of representing the Stone Mountain community.
“People are starting to take notice of our program and not just thinking about the other schools in our area,” said Ferguson who began working in DeKalb County in 1997 and was the head coach of the Stone Mountain middle school football team from 2002-08 before taking over the varsity program. “People are starting to realize that our program produces great players as well.”