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Douglas County Athletics Host 2023 Football Media Day

Chapel Hill Panthers football team at the 2023 Douglas County School Systems' media day

With high school football teams around Georgia gearing up for the start of the 2023 Georgia High School Association season, media days around the state are being held, including the Douglas County School Systems, which featured all five teams from the district. The Alexander Cougars, Chapel Hill Panthers, Lithia Springs Lions, New Manchester Jaguars and Douglas County Tiers were all on hand as players and coaches spoke with the media about getting ready for the start of the season.

For Coach Cody Neal, who takes over as the head coach of Alexander, “the buy in” from the players has been key in the transition of him and his staff taking over the program. “As soon as we got there in late March, early April, they’ve attacked the weight room…we’ve made leaps and bounds in there,” Neal said of the Cougars’ players enthusiastic approach to the work ethic Neal and his staff have asked of them. “They answer the call every single day,” Neal added.

For the Chapel Hill Panthers, who now enter year three under head coach, Brad Stephens, commitment and competition by the players has stood out over the spring and summer. “Everybody who is here has been committed all summer,” Stephens said noting that with the exception of a few personal matters, “that’s all they’ve missed, everybody else has been here”. And with that, the Panthers players have raised their level of competing throughout the summer in workouts and various team camps and events.

“For us to go down to Georgia Tech, out of 32 teams, finish in second place, that was a good stepping stone for us. And at the camps, I always tell them, ‘when something bad happens, make something great happen,’ and we kept our composure and we kept competing with the schools and we had some good things happen at camps,” Stephens said of the Panthers work this past couple of months. Chapel Hill senior, Greg Wardlaw, added that from the players side, leadership has also been vital for the continued growth of their program. “That’s a big things that coaches are on us about. They say a good team is coaches led, but a great team is player led, so we all understand what we have to do,” Wardla said.

The Lithia Springs Lions have been one of Douglas County’s biggest stories since being under the direction of head coach, Corey Jarvis. Prior to Jarvis’ arrival, the Lions had not been in the post-season for almost 40 years and that all changed in Jarvis’ first season as head coach, when the Lions won two play-in games in the 2019 season. Since then, Lithia Springs has reached the playoffs every season under Jarvis, advancing to the second round in the 2021 season.

“Culture change,” Jarvis simply said has led to the turnaround and success in recent years for the Lions program. “For us, what it looked like when I first walked in, the weight room, you’re talking about having like eight, nine kids in weight training. Now, you’re talking about having the whole football team in weight training,” Jarvis said. The Lions have also picked up participation in seven on seven and various other camps under Jarvis and his staff, which as part of the change in culture, has allowed he and his staff to “to our kids in position to compete and I think that no one actually thought that we can compete,” Jarvis said of the Lions program prior to he and his staff took over.

Yet for Jarvis and his staff, they knew the talent was there and it was simply a matter of putting the players up to the challenge. “With them buying in and them continuing to have some success, the expectation is always going to be high for us,” Jarvis added. The Lions will open up the season when they face Stephenson on August 19, Alexander will face Riverwood August 18 and Chapel Hill will take on Stone Mountain on August 18.


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