Class 4A Blog: Stephenson’s Watkins surpasses 500-win milestone

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The regular season is quickly wrapping up and the region tournaments are right around the corner. During this critical stretch of the season, however, the sport also has moments that highlight the dedication and commitment many programs around the state are founded upon. This was indeed true earlier this month, when veteran head coach Dennis Watkins earned his 500th career victory in Stephenson and the Lady Jags’ 55-25 road win over Region 6 rival Hapeville Charter.

Watkins was down two of his starters, but that did not stop the Jags from posting their convincing victory and Watkins hit the milestone as DeKalb County’s all-time winningness girls head coach. His record is now 501-189 all-time.

“I was nervous going into the game not having any film on Hapeville and with us having two players out (one player gone on a college visit and another out with an injury),” Watkins told DeKalb County Director of Media Relations Mark Brock. “But the girls did what they have done at Stephenson for years and other players stepped up to get us over the top.”

DeKalb County celebrated the accomplishment of the 24-year head coach and reflected back to 1998 when Watkins was first asked to take the job.

“I had no idea how this would turn out, especially going 9-11 and 3-22 in my first two years,” said Watkins. “Once the players and community saw I was dedicated to the job they responded.”

His third year saw his hard work start to pay off as his squad went 16-10 and reach the playoffs. His fourth season produced an Elite Eight berth at 25-3. In 2003 his team made a run to the state finals before losing the championship game to Parkview 43-37.

That 2003 team started a run of reaching no less than the state semifinals six consecutive years from 2003 to 2008, including state titles in 2004 (69-62 over Collins Hill) and 2008 (58-43 over Redan).

“I told the girls then and now we have to stay disciplined, stay the course, keeping working hard and things were turnaround,” said Watkins. “Reaching the state title game in 2003 showed the players, myself and the community what the program was capable of if they kept working. Then we went out and beat Maya Moore and Collins Hill in 2004 for the championship.”

One thing Watkins is most proud of is helping over 70 players get scholarships to college and having many of those in professions such as doctors, firemen, physical therapists and the armed forces.

“Getting players the opportunity to go to school for free is always our goal,” said Watkins. “We stress their academics and work with them throughout the year to keep them on course.”

He also appreciates the former players and community who have recognized his dedication to the game and the students themselves.

“It is a great feeling to have players, parents and people in the community to thank me for what I’ve done over the years,” said Watkins. “It has always been about them, not me.”

CLASS 4A REGION STANDINGS

REGION 1

BOYS

(6-0) Monroe

(3-3) Bainbridge

(4-2) Westover

(3-2) Dougherty

(0-6) Thomas County Central

(1-4) Cairo

GIRLS

(5-1) Westover

(4-2) Bainbridge

(2-3) Dougherty

(3-3) Thomas County Central

(3-3) Monroe

(0-5) Cairo

REGION 2

BOYS

(9-0) Spencer

(8-1) LaGrange

(6-2) Shaw

(6-3) Hardaway

(5-4) Kendrick

(3-6) Columbus

(1-8) Carver-Columbus

(2-7) Troup

(0-9) Jordan

GIRLS

(8-1) Hardaway

(9-0) Carver-Columbus

(6-3) Spencer

(5-3) Shaw

(5-4) Troup

(1-7) LaGrange

(2-5) Kendrick

(2-7) Jordan

(1-8) Columbus

REGION 3

BOYS

(1-0) Benedictine

(0-1) Jenkins

(1-1) New Hampstead

(0-0) Islands

GIRLS

(0-0) Islands

(0-1) Jenkins

(1-0) New Hampstead

REGION 4

BOYS

(5-0) Baldwin

(5-2) Perry

(5-3) Westside

(3-4) West Laurens

(5-4) Spalding

(3-4) Rutland

(0-8) Howard

GIRLS

(5-0) Baldwin

(7-1) West Laurens

(4-3) Perry

(3-5) Westside

(5-4) Spalding

(2-6) Howard

(0-7) Rutland

REGION 5

BOYS

(9-0) McDonough

(7-2) Fayette County

(4-5) Hampton

(4-4) Luella

(4-5) Riverdale

(2-6) Mt. Zion

(0-8) North Clayton

GIRLS

(8-0) Luella

(8-1) Fayette County

(6-3) Riverdale

(4-4) Mt. Zion

(2-5) North Clayton

(0-7) McDonough

(0-8) Hampton

REGION 6

BOYS

(5-2) Miller Grove

(5-1) Marist

(3-3) Mays

(5-2) Druid Hills

(2-5) Stephenson

(3-4) Hapeville Charter

(0-6) Arabia Mountain

GIRLS

(6-0) Marist

(5-1) Arabia Mountain

(3-2) Druid Hills

(2-2) Stephenson

(2-3) Mays

(1-5) Miller Grove

(0-7) Hapeville Charter

REGION 7

BOYS

(7-1) Central-Carroll

(4-4) Heritage-Catoosa

(5-3) Northwest Whitfield

(4-3) Cedartown

(3-4) Pickens

(2-5) Southeast Whitfield

(1-6) Ridgeland

GIRLS

(7-0) Pickens

(7-1) Heritage-Catoosa

(6-2) Northwest Whitfield

(3-5) Central-Carroll

(2-5) Cedartown

(1-6) Ridgeland

(0-7) Southeast Whitfield

REGION 8

BOYS

(7-1) Jefferson

(6-2) Madison County

(3-5) Flowery Branch

(3-5) Cedar Shoals

(3-4) North Oconee

(4-4) East Hall

(1-6) Chestatee

GIRLS

(4-3) North Oconee

(7-1) Jefferson

(5-3) Cedar Shoals

(4-3) Chestatee

(3-5) Flowery Branch

(4-5) East Hall

(1-7) Madison County

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