50-in-50: Tucker … Look for the Tigers to make another state title run

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Tucker players always get considerably stronger during the off season, thanks to the strength and conditioning program first implemented by former head coach Franklin Stephens, and now continued by Bryan Lamar.

But look for the Tigers to be even stronger in 2013 after carrying around so many chips on their shoulders since the season ended late last November:

– Tucker lost three games by an average of five points last season.

– They led Northside-Warner Robins 13-3, in Warner Robins,  heading into the fourth quarter in the quarterfinals, but ultimately lost the game (23-20) after committing five turnovers.

– The Tigers lost to two of their main DeKalb County rivals, Stephenson (13-6) and M.L. King (24-17).

“Our program is at the level where we always feel we have a chance [to win region and state championships], but we were just so young last season,” Lamar said of his first season at the helm, after serving as a top assistant on the Tucker staff under Stephens, now at Lamar County. “Last year we shot ourselves in the foot a lot. We weren’t able to finish [games]. But last year we had just one returning starter on defense and three on offense. This year it’s the opposite.”

This fall, 15 of the combined 22 starters on offense and defense are back for a Tucker team that survived the gauntlet that is Region 6AAAAA, in spite of its youth and inexperience, and then advanced deeper in the playoffs than any other team in its region. So this season, expectations are even higher than they usually are at Tucker.

“We’ve got a good group of kids, a good nucleus coming back,” Lamar said. “But nothing is ever guaranteed.”

That is particularly true for the teams competing in arguably the toughest region in the state. Last season, of the 10 teams in 6AAAAA (Clarkston played a non-region schedule), six finished .500 or better and a seventh, Arabia Mountain, finished 4-6 in just its second full varsity season. Tucker finished third in the league due to the losses to Stephenson and region-champion M.L. King. And those losses still sting.

“It’s a great, unique rivalry that you have all of these DeKalb County teams in the same region,” Lamar said. “It’s good for the sport and for the community.

“We take tremendous pride in what we’ve achieved at Tucker, and we feel like we’re the [DeKalb] team with all the hardware,” Lamar said. “But at the same time, Stephenson and M.L.K. feel like the only reason we have the hardware is because we didn’t have to play them in the past, being in a different classification. Now we have to live with the fact that they beat us, and it’s tough for the players and the coaches, too. We all see each other out in the community, at church, everywhere. I think it has put a chip on our guys’ shoulders that they’ve had to carry around this off season.”

If the Tigers are to exact a measure of revenge and then compete for the school’s third state championship, they will have to take care of the ball better and improve their overall blocking. Lamar said that will be the focus once during spring practice and during the summer.

“We’ve got to limit our turnovers and we have to hold our blocks longer, even our running backs,” he said. “On the offensive line, we think we have some players, but that’s a work in progress. We’re really going to put some pressure on those guys, really turn the heat up on them and see who rises to the top.”

TUCKER TIGERS

2012 record: 10-3, 7-2 Region 6-AAAAA, lost in quarterfinals to Northside-Warner Robins

Starters returning: 10 offense; 5 defense.

Key players lost: QB/DB/ATH Juwaan Williams (Oregon); OL Evan Clay (Tennessee State); OL/DL Solomon Jackson (Buffalo); OL Alex Hayes (Syracuse).

Key players returning: LB Dertric Dukes; NT Elisha Shaw; S/WR Kirk Tucker; S/ATH Dominick Sanders; S Devanta Reynolds.

Spring practice dates: May 6-17. Spring Game on May 17, 5:30 p.m. at Fitzgerald Field (Tucker Youth Football Complex).

Schedule: (Scrimmage) Aug. 16 at Marist; Aug. 23 Cedar Grove; Sept. 6 North Atlanta; Sept. 13 Arabia Mountain; Sept. 20 Dunwoody; Sept. 27 Lakeside-DeKalb; Oct. 11 Stephenson; Oct. 18 Southwest DeKalb; Oct. 25 Miller Grove; Nov. 1 M.L. King; Nov. 8 Mays.

Outlook: The Tigers’ three losses were by a combined 17 points last season, including a 23-20 loss in the quarterfinals at Northside-Warner Robins, a game Tucker led 13-3 going into the fourth quarter. With a ton of talent coming back, look for the Tigers to be one of the favorites to win the Class AAAAA title.

37 comments Add your comment

Metro Fan

April 5th, 2013
12:29 pm

Middle and South Georgia better hope they don’t draw Tucker… You gotta pass to beat them. Gainesville and Northside are their biggest obstacles.

ALL TUCKERRED UP

April 5th, 2013
12:46 pm

I might have to go to the scrimage with Marist for
old time sake !!!!!

WarEagle

April 5th, 2013
12:52 pm

Love the scrimmage!

@S. Thomas — I am a bit confused — how is Tucker returning 10 starters on offense, but losing as “key” players its QB and 2-3 linemen?

ALL TUCKERRED UP

April 5th, 2013
1:08 pm

@WAREAGLE
Don’t let the facts get in the way. I never worried about facts in my posts!!!!
Maybe we can meet at the scrimage.

ALL TUCKERRED UP

April 5th, 2013
1:13 pm

We also can run the ball alittle better with a few more players
on the field.

S. Thomas Coleman

April 5th, 2013
1:24 pm

@WarEagle: some of the kids returning on offense were part time starters. Also the leader to be the new starting QB was one of the starting RBs last season.

S. Thomas Coleman

No doubt

April 5th, 2013
8:25 pm

They also have joseph farrar who rushed for over eight hundred yards as a sophomore at Dunwoody.

S. Thomas Coleman

April 5th, 2013
10:10 pm

@No Doubt: Coach Lamar says Farrar will ge the first shot at QB this season, stepping in for Jamaal. Big shoes to fill.

S. Thomas Coleman

Gamer

April 5th, 2013
10:33 pm

Northside is no challenge for Tucker this year. Tucker will have to look to other teams for strong competition. NS graduated 39 seniors and I believe only return only 2 or 3 starters on both side of the ball. We will make the play-off but goodbye after a round or two.

Tucker will win it all——–Yes, over Gainsville!

city slicker

April 5th, 2013
10:33 pm

Dekalb football will feature many new coaches this year this may cause a shift in balance of power at some schools like; SWD, CG, MLK, Towers, Lakeside, McNair and Decatur

MLK ALL DAY

April 6th, 2013
3:42 am

Tucker is lucky MLK will have new coaching. They couldn’t stop the passing game last year… Maybe they will take the region this year, but they still have to deal with Stephenson who got Dallas Rivers to transfer from Tucker…. This will be interesting

Hubert Green

April 6th, 2013
7:19 am

I coached Coach Lamar in high school; he is an outstanding person and coach. I know he will do very well at Tucker. This could be the year. I wish him the best. BTW, 1996 was a pretty good year for Tucker hoops and track.

Snap

April 6th, 2013
10:41 am

Did Farrar’s family move? I am sure there is no recruiting by DeKalb public schools …

Northside Dawg

April 6th, 2013
1:24 pm

The article indicates Tucker had 5 turnovers against Northside last year. I believe Tucker had 3 turnovers.

THEHILLISREAL

April 6th, 2013
6:39 pm

NO! They were seeking the best education for there son, with all thing being equal except football…. decided to go back to school in his neighborhood.

Snap

April 6th, 2013
8:43 pm

“decided to go back to school in his neighborhood” — oh, he was recruited by his prior public school. Sorry, hard to keep up with it . . .

S. Thomas Coleman

April 7th, 2013
1:26 am

@Northside Dawg: Coach Lamar said 5 TO’s in the game. I’ll check the game story.

S.Thomas Coleman

Huh?

April 7th, 2013
9:02 am

S. Thomas — you told @WarEagle that “the leader to be the new starting QB was one of the starting RBs last season.” You told @NoDoubt that Joe Farrar, who has transferred from Dunwoody, “will [get] the first shot at QB this season …” Which is it?

WarEagle

April 7th, 2013
9:14 am

@Huh? — Farrar transferred in 2012 — he played running back for Tucker last season

dekalbFB1

April 7th, 2013
4:15 pm

@ MLK this is not OUR first time with a new coach. Since 2003 MLK has had (4) HC. Which along came dilfferent offenses and defenses! MLK has a state record winning most victories in the first 6 years. Please be patience and support our MLK!!

FootballTopFanFan(c)

April 7th, 2013
6:27 pm

FootballTopFan would like to congratulate the Tucker Tigers and Head Coach Bryan Lamar !!!

The Tigers have a great program.

They should be a force in AAAAA football in 2013.

Good Luck Tucker Tigers.

excavator

April 7th, 2013
10:10 pm

When I initially commented I clicked the Notify me when new comments are added checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with exactly the same comment. Is there any way you are able to remove me from that service? Cheers!

Transfer / Moved

April 8th, 2013
7:00 am

Great to able to get these players that move/transfer and don’t have to sit out. GSHA turns a blind eye in Dekalb County.

Proud Panther

April 8th, 2013
7:20 am

Who is SWD new head coach ?

GwinnettDad

April 8th, 2013
7:23 am

Ho hum. “Toughest region in the state.” A truly amateurish high school assertion. Neither Stephenson & MLK could win the state in the top bracket (Stephenson did, once, before there was an AAAAA or AAAAAA).. Tucker, of course, has won it all the second highest bracket. But add up how many State Championships 6AAAAA has, say, in the last 15 years? Compare it to 1AAAAAA? Get real. A truly stupid statement.

WarEagle

April 8th, 2013
9:21 am

@GwinnettDad — Focusing solely on the team that wins the state championship as a means of judging the strength and depth of an entire region seems “truly amateurish” to me. 1AAAAAA is not deep; in 2012, only 4 teams in the region were over .500 — not a lot of mystery who would make the playoffs. One of the playoff teams from that region — Valdosta — lost to a AA school during the regular season. In 2012, region 6AAAAA had 6 teams over .500 in it, and almost every game during the season has playoff implications.

Tiger4Life

April 8th, 2013
9:59 am

@Transfer/Moved

If you live in Dekalb and pay taxes in Dekalb you should be able to send your child to any school in the county that you see fit.

S. Thomas Coleman

April 8th, 2013
11:21 am

@WarEagle: Thanks for the response to GwinnettDad. I couldn’t have said it better.

@GwinnettDad: What WarEagle said. The strength of a conference/league/region is judged on every team from top to bottom, not just the cream. That said, 6AAAAA is undeniably deeper than 1AAAAAA. Do a little more research next time before you jump into the discussion making claims like “amateurish” and “stupid.”

S. Thomas Coleman

April 8th, 2013
11:44 am

@Northside Dawg: You are correct. Coach Lamar said his team committed 5 fumbles in the game but recovered two of them. So yes, Tucker committed 3 TOs in the game, not 5. Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman

Northside Dawg

April 8th, 2013
4:38 pm

Thanks for the confirmation on the turnovers S. Thomas. Gainesville might be the only team that can stop the Tucker juggernaut this year.

No doubt

April 8th, 2013
10:52 pm

@tiger4life that is the dumbest comment I’ve seen on this blog. You should send your child to the school you’re zoned for not wherever in the county because you pay taxes.

“hey I pay taxes! My child is going wherever I say”…..This sums up Dekalb county.

itsonlywrite

April 9th, 2013
2:20 am

@Gamer … dont be so certain about seeing Gainesville. Tucker is always tough comp, but if they face us, they’ll be seeing a stronger Gainesville team than last year… and thats no hype. With one of the best(if not the best) passing offenses in the state. And the defense should be a lil tighter this year. But it would be nice to meet in the playoffs. We thought were going to see MLK last year and that was a match up I wanted to see. But til then…

Tiger4Life

April 9th, 2013
12:50 pm

@no doubt

If I decide that the best option for my daughter is to send her to a school with better academics that’s not a problem. It only becomes an issue when sports are involved.
If you want to be successful at anything in life you go where the successful people are and learn from them, or you can stay in a bad circumstance which seems extremely foolish to me.

But what do I know?!? Wait… Let me check my degrees

No doubt

April 9th, 2013
5:36 pm

@tiger4life …Most transfers are sports related and that is what I was referring which is a problem in high school sports. Now if a kid transfer lets say from MLK to Tucker because of their International Baccalaureate program that is understandable. Sports related transfers happen way to often in Dekalb. But hey what do I know i have multiple degrees and have witnessed these “transfers” first hand.

Tiger4Life

April 10th, 2013
10:10 am

@no doubt

That’s my point good Sir,
Why is it a problem to give your child the best opportunity to succeed when it comes to sports? In reality every child isn’t going to be a scholar and receive an academic scholarship, so if sports are the best way for them to advance their education or possibly a professional sports career what are you upset about?
You can say, “If you have talent the scouts will notice you”
In actuality if you’re not giving the proper opportunity who will notice you? You could be a great running back, but poor blocking and scheme could cause you to look less than average. You could have the skill set and potential to be a next level player but if you are never taught the proper technique it could be costly to your development as a player.
If you watch HS football, you know the most athletic doesn’t always win, they will make plays, but over a course of a game more times than not technique takes over when fatigue sets in.

NotFromTuckerAnymore

April 10th, 2013
10:01 pm

@Tucker4Life – if you have so many degrees – why you living in the hood? If I want my child to go to a better school it’s easy. I purchase a house in said school zone and register. Why not you with all of that paper?

Tiger4Life

April 12th, 2013
10:37 am

@notfromtuckeranymore

I can only assume that you are talking to me, my handle is Tiger4Life not “Tucker4Life”
FYI I never stated I lived in the hood, just gave my opinion on a subject that is often brought up on these message boards.
As an internet user since 1998, I noticed back then that chat rooms/forums will give a false since of power to a coward to say things they would never say to a person’s face. IMO 