Decatur Football Reaches New Heights, Ranked for First Time Since 2004

Along with the return to school comes the return of the football season, and this year seems to be promising in both. In the first three games so far, Decatur has blown out the Dunwoody Wildcats 55-7, defeated the previously 3rd ranked single-A Wesleyan Wolves, and dismantled the Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans 48-14, who are led by 4-star, nationally ranked offensive lineman Addison Nichols, who has committed to play football at the University of Tennessee.

Decatur High School Football seems to be on track for another good season with 3 decisive wins against good football programs. Decatur linebacker Asa Bailey said that “Greater Atlanta Christian or St Pius will be the hardest game this season,” and with the blowout win of 48-14, Decatur handled GAC quite easily. Decatur hasn’t had a start like this in the last five years, and with a plus-minus game score of +89, Decatur is ranked as the number 10 team in 5A Georgia football per the AJC.

This ranking is the first time Decatur football has been in the top ten since 2004, making the success story even more notable. Decatur football has yet to show their true potential against more competitive teams but has shown out with high-scoring offense and shutdown defensive performances. The true test for Decatur’s historical season will be against AJC’s number 7 ranked St. Pius and will be the pinnacle moment of Decatur’s season. 

This performance has not gone unnoticed, during the Atlanta Falcons “Coach of the Week” competition, teacher and coach William Felton of Decatur came out victorious. This award is granted to one coach in Georgia or Alabama every week to commemorate the efforts of high school football programs’ success. Along with the media attention in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Decatur football program received 1000 dollars in grant money as a reward for the coaches’ and players’ success. The nominator in their recommendation stated thathe has changed the culture of Decatur football,” endorsing Felton’s success in caring and supporting his players as both athletes and students.

Head Coach William Felton hypes up team after big win vs GAC (Keson Graham Photography)

It seems the fans tend to take notice when their team is winning, as students, teachers, and parents filled up the stadium in the home game against Wesleyan. The team atmosphere has only improved with a louder crowd, as students are showing up to both home and away games. Junior Sanders Lockman, an attendee of every regular-season game commented that “the student section is always electric…. and makes watching the game so much better.” When asked what he loves so much about Decatur football, Lockman stated, “Even at away games, no private school can compare to the energy Decatur brings.” During Decatur’s Homecoming game on September 17 against Arabia Mountain, it is a near guarantee to be a packed game full of supportive fans.


Remaining Season Prediction

In the next 3 weeks, Decatur has several tough matchups against Arabia Mountain and Lithonia which will take place on Sep. 17 and Sep. 30, respectively.  The season will culminate with a tough fight against Decatur’s rivals St. Pius, who they lost to last season 28-7. This will likely be a tough game, as Blessed Trinity, a 5A powerhouse, was defeated by St Pius 24-17 on Sep. 3. And will definitely be a fun home game to finish off the Bulldogs regular season.

For my prediction of the 2021 season, I believe Decatur can pull through with wins against their next 6 games against Stone Mountain, Arabia Mountain, MLK, Lithonia, Northview, and Southwest Dekalb. I expect the Bulldogs to easily win against these teams with the exception of Lithonia, which has the possibility of being a close game. As talked about previously Decatur has a big game against Arabia Mountain on September 17. With the home-field advantage of Decatur’s vibrant student section and the addition of it being the homecoming game, Decatur should handle Arabia quite easily. I predict a 42-7 Decatur win, with a successful pass-based offense differing from past games.

Unfortunately, star running back Marquis Hood suffered a knee injury on Friday against G.A.C, and it has been confirmed through his social media pages that he will not return due to an ACL tear. He played a key part in Decatur’s highly run-based offense and will sit out his junior season. This shouldn’t affect Decatur’s offense heavily in the upcoming games, but the loss of Hood will definitely hurt Decatur in the rear end of the season as he is an important contributor to the Bulldogs at running back and on the defensive line. If the rest of Decatur can stay healthy, I predict that the Bulldogs stay undefeated until their matchup against Pius where they win 27 – 24 in overtime, giving them the one seed in our region for the state playoffs.