As the final seconds ticked off Oct. 2 in Avondale’s 41-0 loss to defending state champion Buford, Michael Hardeman sat alone on a bench. His glare reflected the disappointment of a team trying to re-establish itself after two decades of ineptness on the football field.
Avondale trailed only 7-0 at halftime and 14-0 after three quarters.
But second-year coach Michael Carson is far from disheartened, and he let his team know it Friday. As did school board member Sarah Copelin-Wood.
“You all are still just as important to us as you were yesterday,” Copelin-Wood told the team after the game. “You can’t get discouraged and fall apart. There will always be things in life that are disappointing to you. Y’all have made it through a lot of obstacles.”
For starters, Avondale (3-2, 1-1 Region 6-AA) is off to its best start since 1989, the last time the Blue Devils made the playoffs. The team has not won more than three games in a season since 2001.
“The loss (to Buford) doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made,” Carson said. “To be able to play with them for three quarters says a lot about where we are with this program. We’ve just got to keep working and keep building the program.”
Avondale is one of a handful of DeKalb teams having breakthrough seasons after years of struggling.
Stone Mountain is off to a 4-1 (3-1 in 6-AAAA) start after finishing 3-7 a year ago. Already the Pirates have won more games since the 2004 season and are in the hunt for a state playoff spot.
Towers (3-2, 2-0 in 5-AAA) has rebounded from a 1-9 season a year ago and is looking for its first playoff appearance since 2004.
First-year Stone Mountain coach Dante Ferguson