Welcome to the Arabia Mountain Revenge Tour.
That’s what’s been going on this season for the Rams, who are off to a 3-1 start and checking off the names of opponents who were due a little payback. Two weeks ago, it was neighborhood rival Stephenson and last week it was Meadowcreek. Coach Julian Washington’s team is settling some overdue accounts.
The biggest win may have been the one against Stephenson. Much like last season’s victory over Tucker, the Rams needed to beat a “name” opponent and they had never beaten Stephenson in seven previous tries.
“It was important for my kids,” Washington said. “I’m not from DeKalb County, so to me it was just another football game. Once I got here I realized how important names were. That was one of the biggest hurdles we had to get over against Stephenson was the name. This year the seniors just refused to lose.”
Washington compared the importance of the victory to last year’s win against Tucker, a win against an established program with a successful track record.
Part of Washington’s overall plan when he arrived at the school was to develop leaders. Those members of the sophomore class when he arrived two years ago are now seniors and they have taken important leadership roles that have transformed the team.
“We have zero transfers,” Washington said. “All these kids have been with us since I’ve been here. We grew the program in the hallways and just recruited some other sports. We developed their talent, they bought into the weight room. One of our favorite mottos is, ‘Figure it out.’ We just figured things out.
“And the biggest thing was developing leaders, because they didn’t know what that looked like. The sophomore class, the ones who are seniors now, are just phenomenal.”
The senior leaders are the ones who patrol the team and take care of discipline. If a guy is late to practice, Washington doesn’t worry about it because the seniors will take of it.
“They discipline kids, they make sure the locker rooms are clean, they just take care of it,” Washington said. “It’s really cool to see.”
The Rams brought a senior-laden team back. Fifteen of 22 starters returned and the experience has shown. Arabia Mountain has played well on both sides of the ball.
The defense is led by middle linebacker Daniel Turpin, a four-year starter who leads the team in tackles, and Daniel Ndukwe, a James Madison commit who has an 80-yard pick-six among his accomplishments.
The offense is operated by quarterback Julian Shanks, who had 370 yards and four touchdowns passing and rushed for 96 yards and one touchdown in the first three games. Laron Jones and Jordan Miller are also key senior contributors.
Washington also praised the improvement on special teams, which he said “were terrible last year.”
Arabia Mountain is off this week and returns to play its final non-region game on Sept. 16 against Locust Grove.
Dragons score impressive win: Jefferson’s 44-7 win over Oconee County was one of the most impressive within the classification last week. Sammy Brown ran 16 times for 188 yards and four touchdowns, nine total tackles, one interception and punted three times for a 51-yard average. Skyler Zimmerman had 22 total tackles, four for loss, three sacks and recovered a fumble. Jefferson limited Oconee County to only 142 total yards.
Turnaround for Eagle’s Landing: The Eagles were 83-0 two weeks ago by powerful Grayson and lost 50-12 to Class 4A power Monroe Area. But last week they took it out on Discovery, winning 34-0. It was the first victory for coach Johnny Teemer.
Harris County gets third win: The Tiger (3-1) exceeded last year’s win total with a 27-19 win over Howard. Holden Hajek had eight solo tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Milton Lauofo graded 90 percent on the offensive line with nine pancakes. Ran Ogletree averaged 27.5 yards on punt returns.
Chapel Hills stays unbeaten: Chapel Hill is 3-0 for the first time since 2018 after its 21-0 win over South Cobb. It was the second shutout of the season for the Panthers, who begin Region 5 competition on Friday against Mays at Lakewood Stadium.
Region 7A keeps rolling: The top four teams in Region 7 are a combined 14-1 – Cartersville and Hiram are 4-0, Dalton is 3-0 and Calhoun is 3-1.