Notebook: Tanks steps into ‘huge shoes’ at SW DeKalb

New Southwest DeKalb coach Michael Tanks says coaching is like riding a bike.

That’s good to know because it has been seven years since Tanks was on the sidelines as a football coach. He’ll be replacing a legend in Buck Godfrey, who retired this year after 30 seasons with 273 victories, in SWD’s opener tonight against Pebblebrook.

“It’s some huge shoes to fill, you know that,” Tanks said. “The community has been real supportive. I played with Buck Godfrey his first two years over here [1983-84]. The biggest thing was keeping a lot of good assistants that chose to stay on board. It’s made this transition as smooth as possible.”

Tanks’ coordinators will be Fletcher Salter (offense), who was on staff last season, and Jerome Weaks Jr. (defense), who is returning to SWD.

Tanks was one of Godfrey’s early star players. He went on to play at Florida State and in the World League of American Football. Tanks was head coach at Decatur (2005-06) and Tri-Cities (1997-2001). He assisted at Southwest DeKalb in 2007, when he decided to step back from coaching to spend more time with two young children.

“I had a long conversation with my son, who is going to be in the eighth grade, and he asked me why I’m not coaching,” Tanks said. “I said, ‘OK, maybe it’s time to do that.’ It just so happened that Buck retired, so I put my name in the hat. I wanted to get back into it.”

KIPP Academy to play first varsity game

Washington is opening its season on Saturday against KIPP Atlanta Collegiate Academy, a charter school that is playing only three varsity games this season and has no seniors on its roster.

It’s part of a doubleheader called the Tri-Cities Labor Day Classic. It starts at 9:30 a.m. with youth recreational games. KIPP plays Washington at 5:30 p.m., followed by Stockbridge vs. Tri-Cities.

But don’t blame Washington – which was 8-3 last season and made the playoffs out of Region 6-AAAA – for what might fairly be called a cupcake opener against KIPP.

The hole in the schedule was created when M.L. King pulled out to play instead in a doubleheader of its own with Stephenson against two Florida teams at Hallford Stadium on Saturday.

Washington was scrambling for an opponent, and neighboring KIPP volunteered.

“It’s an opportunity for our kids to use it as a measuring stick,” KIPP coach Darrell Caldwell said. “We’re doing everything that everyone else is doing, going to camps, working in the weight room. We’re just a young team without varsity experience.”

Caldwell has scheduled Class A opponents Rabun Gap and Baconton Charter for later in the season. KIPP’s football team was started by Rodney Cofield, now at Douglass. Caldwell, formerly Mays’ head coach, took over in 2012.

The school, which will compete in Class A, has district lines that are roughly those of old Turner High School, but enrollment is capped at 500 and determined by a lottery. Those who are not accepted would attend Douglass or Washington, Caldwell said.

Heyward returns to Peachtree Ridge

Peachtree Ridge will honor graduate Cameron Heyward for tonight’s home game against Parkview. Heyward, a former first-round pick out of Ohio State, is a defensive lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He will speak to the team before the game in the locker room. Heyward is one of two members of Peachtree Ridge’s 2006 state championship in the NFL. The other is punter Drew Butler, also of the Steelers.

Stat man begins 40th season

Jim Fowler will begin his 40th season as a statistician for the local teams in Upson County on Friday when Upson-Lee plays at home against Pike County. Fowler has worked for Upson, R.E. Lee and now Upson-Lee. Fowler wrote a book on the history of R.E. Lee football called “Taking It To the Limit Every Time.” It covers the school’s final 39 seasons (1953-89) under two coaches, Jim Cavan and Tommy Perdue.

African-American champs get their rings

Trinity High School’s football team of 1965 received state championship rings from the Decatur High Booster Club on Thursday night at Decatur High.

Trinity was the Decatur school for African-Americans during segregation. The team’s football team, which included Clarence Scott (later an All-Pro cornerback with the Cleveland Browns) and Jack Pitts (a quarterback who signed with Michigan State), won the Class A championship in the old Georgia Interscholastic Association. Scott and Pitts attended the ceremony.

The team, nicknamed the Bulldogs, defeated Wilson of Tifton 19-14 in the championship game and finished 13-0, posting seven shutouts. Trinity played and defeated schools such as Lemon Street of Marietta, East Depot of LaGrange, Burney-Harris of Athens and Fairmont of Griffin. Trinity’s coach was O.F. Massey.

Trinity closed in 1968 and merged into Decatur High, located essentially across the street from the old Trinity school.

Briefly …

Monroe in Albany will honor the three Brooks County players who were killed in a car wreck in July with a pregame ceremony tonight, according to the AJC’s David Purdum. Parents of the deceased players will receive plaques as part of the tribute. … Tucker’s victory against Cedar Grove last week was the 20th consecutive win for the Tigers in opening games. Northside of Warner Robins is going for its 17th straight opening win tonight against Flowery Branch. … Two Columbus schools have sold home games this week. Hardaway will play at Bainbridge on Oct. 18 for $5,000, and Jordan will play at Manchester on Nov. 6. Jordan got $3,000, according to David Mitchell of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. … Birthday wishes go out today to Monroe Area coach Matt Fligg, 55, and Dunwoody coach Jim Showfety, 48.

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4 comments Add your comment


August 30th, 2013
8:36 am

Congratulations Mike. I am looking forward to seeing SWD play now that you are there. I enjoyed seeing you at the reunion. Good Luck and the family will be cheering for you.


August 30th, 2013
11:13 am

A new era starts at SWD. I wonder if coach Godfrey will be in attendance.

Kipp Parent

August 30th, 2013
11:56 am

Cupcake AJC u should be ashamed of Yourself That’s 1st 2nd Kipp Has Talent on Both Sides of The Ball As a Parent who son has a 3.7 GPA is a National Honor society Memeber Volunteer’s on Weekend Thru Kipp I’m Very Proud Of these 40 Young Men They Had More than 60 out this summer but Couldn’t find the equipment for all those Kid’s U will hear more in the Future as Coach as Great Group of Somphore’s&Freshman one thing we know is Our Kid’s Can qualify Academically for Any Top School


August 30th, 2013
12:32 pm

FootballTopFan(c) would like to wish Southwest Dekalb football team and Coach Michael Tanks good luck and success !!!

Congrats to the Decatur Booster Club for honoring Trinity High School Bulldogs for winning the state
championship in 1965.

Our sympathy and condolences go out to the family, friends and fans of the three Brooks County players.