11-19 WEB Derrick Mahone column mug.jpg

ALPHARETTA - Flashback to two seasons ago, and the Douglas County High football program didn’t seem like it was going anywhere.

The Tigers were coming off a 2-8 season, and the school’s principal, Andre Weaver, thought a change was needed as the team was heading into a tougher region.

Weaver’s biggest requirement for a new coach was a person that had previous heading coaching experience.

Johnny White was living comfortable as a defensive assistant at Langston Hughes, but remembered Douglas County had a strong program when he was coach at Creekside.

White decided to apply for the job with the intention of rebuilding the program to a competitive natural on the state level.

The motto he adopted for the program was “Accept the Grind”, meaning the players, coaching and fans would be pushed to a new level.

Douglas County’s season ended on Friday with a 24-21 loss at Alpharetta, but in some ways a new beginning occurred.

Tiger Pride is back in the program as the team challenged for the Region 5-AAAAAA title and reached the second round of the playoffs.

All this has been done in two years as head coach for White and his staff. The players, and even the entire school, has bought into the program.

A few weeks ago, White walked into the school to start his day as a social studies teacher, and saw the entire staff done blue T-shirts that read, “Accept the Grind”.

It’s a new day for football at the county’s oldest school.

And this season wasn’t any fluke.

In his first season in 2016, the Tigers went 6-4 and missed the playoffs by one game.

A 35-3 loss to Mays was the only regular-season defeat as the Tigers finished as region runner-up. Last week’s playoff win against Dalton was the program’s first postseason win since 2005.

There will be several talented players moving on to the college level next season like linebacker Braelen Oliver and running back Uriah West.

But the cupboard isn’t exactly bare for the Tigers, who played several freshmen this season.

Freshmen defensive end Jonathan Jefferson has already received an offer from Georgia. Several other underclassmen have been invited to offseason all-star games.

It will be a busy offense season for White and his staff as they prepared to the majority of the seniors into college. Douglas County has become a routine stop for college coaches on all levels.

The grind continues.

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