2018 Record: 9-3, overall (4-2, Region 6 A)
Head Coach: Tommy Atha 141-56, 5 region championships
All Time Record: 960 games – 575 – 348 – 37 (62%)
Total Seasons: 108 First Season: 1910 All State Players: 77
Region Championships: 10 (Last in 2015)
State Championships: 1 (Last in 1998)
8.23 vs Pepperell
8.30 vs Coosa
9.6 at Sonoraville
9.20 vs Gordon Lee
9.27 at Mt. Zion, Carroll
10.4 vs Christian Heritage
10.18 at Trion
10.25 vs Bowdon
11.1 at North Cobb Christian
11.8 Region Crossover TBA
2018 was the 20-year anniversary of Darlington School’s last state championship. The goal, like the goal is every year, is to repeat that feat. The Tigers started the season on a four-game winning streak before a loss to the eventual region 6A champion, Mount Zion. Another three-game winning streak followed before a loss to North Cobb Christian. The Tigers finished the regular season 8-2 and with a first-round home game in the playoffs.
“We are proud of the year we had in 2018,” says Head Football Coach, Tommy Atha. “We overcame some significant injuries throughout the year to reach the quarterfinals for the second year in a row and advanced into the state playoffs for the 24th time in the last 27 years. It was a great year.”
The healthy return of players lost to injury last year and the overall winning tradition of Darlington has plenty of people looking forward to 2019. “There was a ton of excitement around the program and that serves as a great catalyst heading into 2019,” Atha says.
With a young team that rostered only nine seniors in 2018, the Tigers will see a very experienced team hit the field this season. “We have a good group of returning players,” continues Atha. “We have most of our offensive and defensive lines intact, as well as our running backs and quarterbacks.”
Offensively, the Tigers return two All-State players with senior running back Kolin Rogers(who was honorable mention and first team) and Tate Ratledge, a senior and highly recruited offensive lineman. Returning from injury will be quarterback Griffin Brewster, who missed most of the 2018 season. The Tigers are looking for him to bring the promise and production he displayed during his sophomore season.
Darlington’s defensive line remains mostly intact this year. As the Tigers don’t normally have enough players for a two-platoon system, guys will have to play on both sides of the ball. Coach Atha is using summer workouts and fall practice to build players up on the defense. “We will need to develop some depth in the secondary and linebackers” Atha explains.
When looking at special teams, Darlington has some new kickers who the coaches are excited about and will return last year’s punter, which Coach Atha describes as “a blessing.”
With the Darlington Tigers being a small program, playing a full junior varsity schedule is no easy task, but “we always find a way to pull it off and stay competitive,” says Atha. “We have literally played a JV game with 13 kids before. If we have 11 players, who are ready to lineup, we will go play.”
Most years, Darlington plays junior varsity games with 20-25 kids and Atha doesn’t expect that that will be any different this year.
The Tigers, like every other high school program, have standard goals for the season. Atha and company want to win more than they lose, make the playoffs, win the region and, of course, win the state championship. Where everyone differs is how they go about accomplishing them.
“We believe that achieving our goals is a byproduct of doing things the right way. We always talk about controlling the controllables. There are things that are completely out of our control. We can’t control the weather, how good the other team may be, if we have injuries, or a plethora of other things that can and may well happen. However, we can control us, things like how hard we prepare, the way we approach the game mentally and physically and what kind of attitude we have. We believe that if we stay true to these things that really matter, the winning will take care of itself.”