Class AAAAA football blog: New Decatur coach inherits senior-laden team

New head coach William Felton is eager to continue to the progress made by the football team at Decatur High School.

Felton had been the school’s defensive coordinator since 2016 and has been an instrumental in the program’s ascension. Last year the Bulldogs went 7-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2005. But coach Cody Cory left after three successful seasons to return to Texas and the Decatur job came open.

Felton raised his hand and was chosen over a crowd of quality applicants. Felton played football at Macon County High School and Albany State University. He came to Decatur as an assistant coach in 2008, left for three years to pursue his Master’s degree, and returned when Cory recruited him in 2016.

“We’re looking to continue to elevate the program and build on what we’ve started,” Felton said.

Felton has been a big part of changing the football culture at Decatur. He’s been encouraged by the number of players who had been showing up for morning workouts before school was shut down by the year.

“We probably had half the kids showing up and working out,” Felton said. “In the past we’d get maybe five or 10 kids. This year it had been a consistent number of kids. It’s a testament to what we’ve been able to do and the kids believe we’re going in the right direction.”

Despite the regime change, things won’t look very different under Felton. That won’t be necessary given the high number of seniors who will dominate the Decatur roster.

“Our senior class is close and there are 20-25 seniors on the team,” Felton said. “They understand what we want. They have the experience and the grit that we want. Because of our seniors we won’t have to spend a lot of time teaching new things and we won’t have to re-teach a lot.”

The Bulldogs return Justin Weaver, who played running back and cornerback and was voted the Region 6 Athlete of the Year, and running back Marquis Hood, voted the region’s top freshman. Other first-team all-region choices who are returning include receiver Marshall Toole, offensive lineman Gerry Boudreau, kicker Kriston Esnard and long snapper Sean Cohen. Second-team all-region choices who return include receiver Isaac Dimmock, defensive lineman Malcolm Dawson, linebackers Kristopher Williams and Nahshon Smith, defensive back Sam Mahany and valuable hybrid JuJu Lester.

The senior presence may cut down on the opportunities for younger players to make the varsity roster, but will allow them to remain in the lower developmental programs and earn the experience that will be needed.

“We won’t have to rush a ninth-grader up to play varsity,” Felton said. “That will help with the continuity of the program.”

Decatur will be moving into Region 5-AAAAA this fall, where the Bulldogs will be joined by playoff regulars Southwest DeKalb, St. Pius and Mays.