4 Questions with Atlanta Public Schools AD Jasper Jewell

Today’s interviewee is Jasper Jewell, the athletic director for Atlanta Public Schools. Seven of 10 APS football-playing schools made the playoffs this season, and four are at home in the second round. That’s the most games that APS has hosted in the second round since the GHSA went to 32-team playoff draws in 1996. Jewell also is on the Georgia High School Association’s executive committee and board of trustees.

1. You’ve got four home playoff games this week. What does this mean for APS football? “This is tremendous for all four of our communities – Carver, North Atlanta, South Atlanta and Mays. This is extremely significant for North Atlanta as it is the first time they have advanced to the second round of the state football playoffs in school history. I was at the Lovejoy-North Atlanta game. That community is on fire right now. Lastly, we all know that with football being a fall sport, having successful football programs will shape and mold the entire culture for the rest of the season. I could not be more proud of those four programs.”

2. Looking at this season as a fan and not just an athletic director, what are some of the story lines about APS football that you’ve found most interesting? “As I looked around the district this year, one would have expected this to be a year of rebuild with the exception of South Atlanta, which returned 19 starters from a group that advanced to the state quarterfinals last season. Yet our coaches and players embraced the challenge, worked extremely hard in the offseason, and here we are in the second round. We had seven total teams to make the playoffs this year [including Jackson, Douglass and Washington], with an additional two teams with winning records for the first time in several years. Midtown played non-region and finished 6-4 [after canceling its varsity season in 2021]. Therrell finished 6-4 and had a winning record for the first time in 20-plus years. The excitement is insane.”

3. Most APS head coaches are in their third season or less, and most have made quick progress. When hiring coaches, people talk about getting the right “fit.” What is the right fit generally with APS schools? “Getting the right fit in APS means you are much more than a coach by way of X’s and O’s. You are father figures, counselors, mentors, big brothers, you name it. This particular group of coaches truly cares about not only their programs but their communities, which speaks volumes about them and their character. Darren Myles of Carver and Eric Williams of Maynard Jackson are the most-tenured head football coaches in the district, and they truly lead by example. Perhaps one of the most intriguing hires was Marquis Slaton at Mays High. While he is no stranger to the coaching ranks, he takes over a Mays program and in his first season finishes strong to land a No. 2 seed in the playoffs and had an impressive win last week. Simply put, all of the head football coaches that we have hired sprinkled in with a few veterans are doing an amazing job.”

4. This season is the first following a significant reclassification that broke up the public/private split in Class A and applied a stronger multiplier on out-of-zone students. How would you grade the impact that it had this season in football, and are there ways that the GHSA should consider tweaking it for the next reclass? “I think it’s still a bit early to grade the success or failure of reclassification. I do believe there is more balance in each classification; however, no true assessment can be taken until after the 2022-2023 school year. Dr. [Robin] Hines and his group [at the GHSA] have done an amazing job with reclassification, and I am excited to see how the rest of the year plays out. I also appreciate my senior leadership in APS for having the faith and confidence in allowing me to be a part of the reclassification process.”

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