4 Questions with Decatur head coach William Felton

Courtesy City of Decatur

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Courtesy City of Decatur

Today’s interviewee is Decatur coach William Felton, whose team beat Greenbrier 51-31 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. It was Decatur’s first playoff victory since 2003. Decatur’s season was jeopardized in preseason when the school district suspended extracurricular activities until Sept. 25. Decatur played its first game Oct. 2 and still got out to a 6-0 start. The Bulldogs now stand 7-1 under Felton, who was promoted to head coach in the offseason.

William Felton, Decatur head coach

1. What did the playoff win, the school’s first in 17 years, mean to the program? “This victory means progress. It means hope, and it means that we are building a culture where kids believe in themselves, their abilities and each other.”

2. How did the Greenbrier game play out? Any outstanding performances? “First off, hats off to Greenbrier for a great game plan and performance. They made us earn every yard on the field. For us, the game was fun, challenging and exciting. It was a great test to let the kids know what we are good at and what we need to continue to improve on. We had some great performances from a lot of guys. Sophomore QB Harrison Hannah managed the game well and passed for 167 yards. Marquis Hood rushed for 162 yards. Isaac Dimmock rushed for 63 yards as well. Senior Army commit Justin Weaver was electric, scoring on offense and special teams. He had a 51-yard run for a touchdown and a punt return for 53 yards for a touchdown. Mekhi Lloyd had seven tackles and two catches for 50 yards.”

3. What are some of the challenges that you and your team have faced this season related to COVID-19? “The main challenge we have faced with the pandemic is just making the sacrifice and staying away from family and friends who are not immediate. We have very rigorous protocols that we follow to ensure that screening is done efficiently. Our district leaders have done a great job with following CDC guidelines, and our athletic director, Mr. Rodney Thomas, has done a great job us supplying us with all the sanitation supplies we need to be safe. A week before the start of the season, we were shut down due to numbers rising in DeKalb County. We were not allowed to start practice until two weeks before region play. We vowed to treat every day like it was our last because the game was essentially taken from us.”

4. Decatur just 10 years ago was playing in Class 2A and fielding average teams. Now, you’re in 5A and advancing in the playoffs. How has this happened? “Funny thing is we are a 5A school by numbers but not for sports. We have less kids now on the football team than we did when I first started here in 2008. Gentrification and richer families have caused the population to rise greatly over the last few years, so we have to move up as our population moves up. As far as the football team, the kids have bought into the idea of family and working together. They are a great dedicated group, and we have been working hard to stay the course and play hard and for each other.”

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