What will be legacy of Stephenson? Maybe best collection of D1 prospects that Georgia has ever seen

Stephenson High School's Class of 2012 is a candidate to lead the nation for the number of seniors that will sign major-college football scholarships (AJC photo by Michael Carvell)

Stephenson High School's Class of 2012 is a candidate to lead the nation for the number of seniors that will sign major-college football scholarships (AJC photo by Michael Carvell)

Stephenson, the high school which may have had most talent-loaded roster the state of Georgia has ever seen, was eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs.

Stephenson, which has 11 seniors committed to D1 schools and could add several more before February’s signing day, lost to Lowdnes 7-0 in the Class AAAAA playoffs on Saturday.

It was a heartbreaking end for Stephenson (9-2), which got a bad draw in the first round after losing to ML King 50-49 last week when UGA-bound WR Blake Tibbs returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown with 16 seconds left in regulation. The loss knocked Stephenson down to a No. 2 playoff seed, where it had to face an underachieving but always dangerous Lowndes squad.

The state of Georgia may never see a star-studded roster like Stephenson, which was led by AJC Super 11 DE Jarontay Jones (committed to Virginia Tech). The team’s best player was either WR DeMarcus Sweat (Kentucky) or RB Mike Davis (Florida).

The rest of the Stephenson roster included DL Jafar Mann (Florida), LB Raphael Kirby (Miami), DT Carlos Hood (South Carolina), S Kyle Fleetwood (South Carolina), DB Shawn Blaylock (Kentucky), LB Darreon Herring (Vanderbilt), TE Joshua Parris (Syracuse) and OL Nicholas Gibbons (Memphis).

Back to Saturday’s first-round loss: In fairness to Stephenson, it did have arguably the toughest first-round game in this year’s playoffs. And they did look every bit as good as advertised, winning nine in a row to start off the year, until stumbling against ML King.

Here’s our question: How did you think the 2011 Stephenson Jaguars will be remembered? Will it go down in history as the most talented team in Georgia history to not win it all? Or as the victim of a stunning first-round upset? Or as a team of greatness that simply had an unlucky playoff draw? Or 10 years from now will people only be remembering that this was the program that helped 11 seniors go D1 in a single season? Please post your comments below.

153 comments Add your comment

Coach Sebastian Moore

November 12th, 2011
10:45 pm

They will be remembered as a team with 11 division 1 commits. I think that winning a state championship in states like Georgia Florida and Texas is a very tall task and a lot has to go your way. Talent isn’t enough. a 7-0 game sounds pretty close to me.

Respect to their coaching staff for doing a great job of getting their kids in school.
Some of these schools that go deep into the playoffs and win state don’t do anything for their kids. And that’s a shame.


November 12th, 2011
10:48 pm

I think that it showed that the team was filled with a lot of ” me 1st ” type attitudes.


November 12th, 2011
10:54 pm

They will be remembered as all of the other Stephenson teams over the last decade or so. You could have written this article years ago and copy and paste it each season.


November 12th, 2011
11:02 pm

At Lowndes we aren’t complaining about our seeding as we made our bed and now we have to sleep in it. Possible 5 top 10 teams all on the road and every one more than a 3 hour drive. Just hope we can over come all odds and keep this Viking fleet visiting a city near you.


November 12th, 2011
11:13 pm

Stephenson will never win crap, too Ghetto! Go Reggie Ball!


November 12th, 2011
11:18 pm

People remember championships and quickly forget the players.


November 12th, 2011
11:26 pm

I agree with foothills, you can write this article for all the years to come for Stephenson. Never has coaches done so little with sooo much. Every year the they are loaded with star talent only to get beat in the first or second round of the playoffs. When was the last time they made it further? So sad for a school not to already have a state championship

jag fan 2

November 12th, 2011
11:39 pm

Every year it gets down to coaching in the big game.Stephenson never use their talented players when it counts in the payoffs. Where was Kyle Fleetwood when you needed someone to catch a pass in crunch time #19 drop a lot of passes tonight.

Just Saying

November 12th, 2011
11:52 pm

How in the world can Stephenson lose a game, period? 11 D-1 commitments and they lose!!! There are schools who’ve won championships which haven’t had 11 D-1 prospects in 50 yrs, yet Stephenson has that many in its Senior class alone. Either these prospects are totally overrated or horribly coached. Are they even coached? Has to be one of the two.

Stephenson will go down as one of the biggest choke teams or one of the worst coached teams in state history.


November 13th, 2011
12:27 am

Obviously the coach at Stephenson is anti-UGA. I have been hearing this from the football recruiting service guys. Now I believe them. Don’t give me this “they can’t get in to UGA” stuff. This is obviously a reflection on Rodney Garner and others on staff in Athens. This is a high school program that also has banned UGA from recruiting on campus as well. Not good!


November 13th, 2011
1:24 am

Grayson’s gonna tap that Lowndes ass!


November 13th, 2011
1:25 am

It’ll be something along the lines of what foothills said OR they just won’t be remembered AT ALL! They made a pretty good video before the MLK game though. I’d say it’s a shame for the kids that they’ve never made it further than they have with all that talent but maybe they don’t care. Most of them are moving on to play in college which is something most of us didn’t get to do. At the end of the game, after the roughing the kicker penalty, it did look like there were a couple of players who cared….they seemed upset that their season was about to end.


November 13th, 2011
1:28 am

You may end up being right Grayson! but you will have to earn every yard you gain against their defense. Also, this is a rebuilding year for Lowndes….they are very young.


November 13th, 2011
1:45 am

What did they accomplish??

legacy my arse

November 13th, 2011
2:09 am

legacy is that they are anti UGA and continue to under-achieve all of the time. nothing like a team that talks smack and never ever backs it up with a title…

legacy my arse

November 13th, 2011
2:12 am

a bunch of D1 individuals and will do the same once they get to their schools…Individuals do not win championships in team sports, only a united team does…

reality bites

November 13th, 2011
2:13 am

Coach Moore, with all due respect you couldn’t coach for me. I want a winner!

@foothills Amen!

There is one constant at Stephenson throughout all these years of underachieving and that is the head coach.

The 2011 Stephenson Jaguars won’t be remembered, because they didn’t do anything special.


November 13th, 2011
2:36 am

individuals playing a team game will lose always. Philly Eagles are a prime example in pro ball.

chuck uga is BIGOT!

November 13th, 2011
2:38 am

If i’m not mistaken Stephenson has sent few player too UGA. It take two too tango! What have UGA done to recruit player from the inner city? I see all these crappy now urban player getting scholarships. BTW…. what recruiting service gave you this info….. you put it out there , don’t leave us hanging.


November 13th, 2011
4:01 am

These last 2 losses for Stephenson is both Karma and poetic justice for a HS FB Program that illegally recruits players from outside of their attendance zones in order to give themselves a competitive advantage.

It is always great to see scumbag cheaters lose!

bang bang

November 13th, 2011
4:11 am

i will say this i know one player that gave it all for 4 years blood sweat and tears. devastated to go out this way. there is a up or down, in and out, positive and negative, yes and no wrong or right.Players keep the ups,the rights,the ins,the yes,and positives and watch how fast you progress in life and watch how the nos, the outs,the downs,the negatives and wrongs stay where the are.Complaning about NOTHING

bang bang

November 13th, 2011
4:19 am

Thanks Very Much Coach Moore. Thats the positive we all need


November 13th, 2011
4:30 am

Hating on high school kids? Really?


November 13th, 2011
5:52 am

Go south Georgia! They will be remembered as all those SW Dekalb teams of the 90’s are. All talent but something just missing to be special.

mario jordan

November 13th, 2011
6:11 am

I feel you Dean but SWD went to the finals in 91 and won it in 95. We should have won more definitely though


November 13th, 2011
6:22 am

Lowdnes is pretty good. Stephenson has many D1 players because they emphasize academics and won’t have trouble getting in school and there’s no shame in that. It would be nice if Kirby and the linebacker from , Harvey-Clemons, teamed up at Georgia. Georgia will be preseason top 5 next year.

Just a Fan

November 13th, 2011
6:44 am

Wow. @A person Dumb, Nice stereotype laced post. Apparently your jealous of the opportunity and futures these young men have ahead of them. You sound angry at kids you don’t even know. Go get some help.


November 13th, 2011
6:55 am

They won’t be remembered at all. Fans of HS football will talk about the team that won the state championship. It will not consider Lowndes a great team if it does not win the Championship. No time will be wasted on talking and remembering a team that lost in the opening round of playoffs. It is not how we are wired as fans. We love to talk about our championship team memories. Talking about our offensive tackle that is going to Memphis St. U., has NO shelf life at all.

So this is where all the Richt haters have gone....

November 13th, 2011
7:17 am

Man, I was wondering why the UGA board was missing 80% of their posts after the Auburn game. Now I know why. Some of them are trolling over here posting racist (not bigoted, mind you, blatantly racist) comments about teenagers. That dude must be somebody’s grandpa. I haven’t seen vile stuff like that since the ’70’s.

It’s pretty obvious to me that the coaches at Stephenson are more interested in scholarships for their kids than winning titles. Maybe they get a power trip having D1 millionaire coaches grovel before them trying to recruit their kids. Maybe they are great men who are trying to maximize the futures of every kid they can. Maybe a bit of both.

Either way, it’s hard not to reach that conclusion with the same playoff results year after year. For me, I think at the end of a long career, I would be happy to point to the dozens (possibly hundreds) of kids I helped maximize their potential by going to college than one or two state titles. Even if half of them don’t pan out that’s still a legacy of achievement that would outlive me. It would be enough to keep me warm at night.


November 13th, 2011
7:17 am

UGA still recruits stephenson just ask kirby and jafar mann(quinteze williams plays for Sandy Creek by the way) who have offers from the Dawgs. Scheme fit would be the issue here.

Da'Rick is 0-2

November 13th, 2011
7:29 am

HAHAHAHAHAHA….I love it! The AJC practically became the Stephenson Gazette. I got sick of hearing about them, non-stop. Apparently they aren’t near as good as the AJC thinks.

Blake Tibbs IS the man! (BTW, A UGA commit!) Most of the Stephenson kids need to get used to losing to Tibbs in the future.


November 13th, 2011
7:31 am

I know nothing about the coaching abilities of Stephenson’s staff. What is apparent is that they have good relationships with college coaches and consider it important to see that their players can get scholarship money for football. If I was a parent of a football player at Stephenson, I would join the booster club and help anyway I could. A college education is a dream worth cultivating. It sounds to me that this is a good school to be around for many reasons.

Reality Check FGF

November 13th, 2011
7:37 am

Pretty simple. Its the same as the Dream (nightmare) Team. Transfer to a school just to play sports. Lots of hype upfront. All of these players will NOT finish and get thier degrees.High School sports used to be about the community and now its me me me me me. GHSA should get around to preventing this. All of the parents that moved to Stephenson can now move back to their original school district.


November 13th, 2011
7:45 am

No need to insult the players that are teenage young men. I dont have a son at Lowndes or Stephenson but I attended the game just to see good H.S, football. Here’s what I think about Stephenson’s coaching: Stick with what you do if it’s been working all year. Mike Davis is a beast and ran physical all night. Stephenson defense was pretty darn good too. Lowndes did not let their 3 regular season losses change their focus. IMO Stephenson coaching put to much into winning the last regular season game than preparing for the playoffs. I know local braggin rights last for a life time but so does a H.S.,state championship title. After halftime of the last regular season game, I would have rested my starters. Stephenson don’t need home field avantage because they have a large fan following. Sometimes you have to see the bigger picture. Lowndes drove 4 hours on a Saturday to leave with the win. Congratulation to them.

Tift Blue Devil

November 13th, 2011
8:03 am

I saw Stephenson play this year against my Blue Devils in Tifton. Stephenson won a tight contest that wasn’t decided until mid 4th qtr. I did not see a ton of difference in the talent level of the two teams – with the exception being RB Mike Davis who was awesome. The recruiters must be looking only at size and speed when evaluating Stephenson players. I think recruiters should evaluate a players football abilities and not only size and 40 yard dash times. Some GA Bulldogs that had very good careers but weren’t the absolute perfect size/speed were David Pollack, David Greene and Rennie Curran. Also I though Stephenson was coached pretty well. They kept it simple and basic on offense but so do many successful high school programs.


November 13th, 2011
8:06 am

Reality Check FGF……..what is your problem with the GHSA? Why would they care where a parent wants their child to play sports? It is the parents call, plain and simple. Growing up, 3 HS’s were trying to get myself and my brothers to attend their respective schools. It all came down to what HS payed the biggest share of the cost. Since our elementary school was paying 70% of the cost, it was what HS was willing to pick up the final 30%. Seems to be the American way to me!


November 13th, 2011
8:10 am

Since none of those committed to D1 colleges are going in state, who cares? I am happy they lost.

Woe Blue

November 13th, 2011
8:16 am

Stephenson came down to Tift County at the beginning of the season and barely scratched out a win . Tift County mind you . The worst team in 1AAAAA , two years running.
Surprised that Valdosta lost to Newnan . Stephenson losing to Lowndes…Not so much .

Ga HS coach

November 13th, 2011
8:54 am

I have no dog in this fight, but I can tell you something that is FACT. Those kids who are going to SEC level schools would have gotten scholarships there no matter who the coach was.Those type players are obviously talented and somebody is going to offer for that type of talent. Does the Stephenson coach get credit for one player who had already commited to an SEC school before he “moved” to Stephenson? When a coach REALLY deserves credit for helping a player “get” a scholarship, is when that kid gets into a UTC, or Appalachian State when that player may have been overlooked otherwise. As far as how good of a coach is the guy as SHS, I would think you would have to judge that based on his record in the playoffs when talent begins to even out and coaching is a bigger factor. Selah.


November 13th, 2011
8:57 am

Can this be the last of the Stephenson with a gazillion recruits articles, please?

Tell us something about all the recruits Georgia had at the game last night.

Just Reading Comments

November 13th, 2011
9:01 am

I have to say “for so called football fans” I am appalled at some of the posting here. Afterall; students make up a team…these are our kids. @PYT4Life; TiftBlue, and Paddy …thanks for your post. Congrats to Lowndes Viking for a good win… The Vikings still had to fight hard for the 7 points they got to win. I am proud of Stephenson and the fact that they look out for their students. In the end, it is about a good education. I wonder how many who are posting on here made it to championships that are now on NFL teams? Are, are you like the rest us…had to find a regular job to make a living? Anyway…Go Grayson!!! BTW I am a MLK fan. Stephenson fans and coaches; hold your heads up!!!

ATL Sports Fan

November 13th, 2011
9:06 am

I agree with, So where are the Richt haters. It is high school football. These are the first steps in teaching these kids how to gorw into men. Everyone seeks to be a champion, but in this case these coaches do take a lot of pride in knowing they’ve helped these kids be able to continue their educaton for free (Atleast 60% wouldn’t be able to pay for college on their own).

As for UGA recruiting at Stephenson. There has been a little disconnect with Coach Gartrell. It has a little to do with his son TJ, and with Coach Gartrell believing Kregg Lumpkin should be the featured back over a Tucker grad in Thomas Brown.

To the poster who said UGA doesn’t recruit inner city kids. First off, that is false and secondly, Stephenson is not a inner city schoo!


November 13th, 2011
9:15 am




Ivery Lee

November 13th, 2011
9:18 am

Only a game, on any given day, the best of the best can LOSE!!.. Question is how will the players fair in the coming years of their lives.

Dekalb Fan

November 13th, 2011
9:26 am

Hey I am a big Dekalb fan. It is hard to say that the team underachieved, but it is very true. There was an abundance of talent, but not at the key positions. QB being one because he is very young and raw. The O-Line is not great just pretty average. It take a culmination of everything to win a championship. It is sad to say but talent does not always win championships. Great teams are great teams because they play as a team. This team relied too much on the big play on both sides of the ball. Coach G has a good program and parents all over Dekalb move their kids to his school just like all other top programs in the state. It is unfortunate that he has not enjoyed success in the playoffs, but look at his track record for putting kids into college. Sometimes it’s not about the state championship, but putting your kids into college with a chance at being successful in athletics. The kids at Stephenson are not ghetto… far from it. Their parents are middle class/upper middle class parents. The children there always feel like they have to prove something because they are not from the same upbringing as their Dekalb classmates (real Dekalb parents and teachers know this for a fact). There are bad seeds everywhere but this is one of the better overall schools in Dekalb. Sad to see so many critics against these kids (remember they are kids).


November 13th, 2011
9:34 am

I’m happy for the young men. I’ve been in support of this program since 1997- It’s sad that we never made it to the BIG Dance. How can you have so much talent yet never make a statement in the playoffs? If this was a College team the coaching staff would have been replaced. For the tenth straight year… wait until next year… right?


November 13th, 2011
9:42 am

Imagine what could happen down in South Georgia with all that talent? We just keep showing up and getting by. Could it be that football is taught as a team sport down here?


November 13th, 2011
9:43 am

I have not seen so many ignorant comments about a team that should be celebrated in all my life. The coaches should be commended for preparing these could for the opportunity to go to college and get a better education. We as adults have to remember that these are Student/Athletes. They are and should always be treated as students first. If you want to look at something look at why other school’s aren’t helping their kids get scholarships to get a education.

As for the kids if they are reading this….Let Your Haters be Your Motivators and God Bless the entire Stephenson Community.

and for they haters… God less you too with you ignorant self.

Let's Go MLK

November 13th, 2011
10:04 am

I can’t believe some of the comments posted here…Apparently some of you see an all African American team and automatically make the leap that the school is inner city, “ghetto” and undisciplined. Truth is, Stephenson is none of that. These vicious comments lobbed at 17-18 years old students reek of jealously and racism. If you are that tired of hearing about Stephenson, stop reading the articles and posting. Good luck to these young men in college.

Just Reading Comments

November 13th, 2011
10:05 am

@ John…Good post.