Participation seems like it would not be a problem at Banneker, a school that has a strong history of athletics. It's a reflection of just how much things have changed for the both athletics and the school.
"There was a lot of transition," says Allen. "A lot of people coming and going for about seven years. When you have instability, you can lose kids. Like anything else, not having stability in school led many kids to not have interest in athletics. Of the 16 Fulton County high schools, we ranked 16th in participation. We were a 5A athletic program with participation more like a 2A or 3A school."
This year has seen participation increase for football at Banneker, as close to 80 players are on this year's squad. I went to see the Trojans play earlier this season and what I saw was a red and white blur. This group does everything fast. There is up-tempo offense and up-tempo defense, too. Oh, by the way, that defense has only surrendered 87 points this season.
“We have to use what we have," says Allen. "We are not real big and we won't intimidate you getting off the bus. But what we do have are kids who are quick and fast. We use that to our advantage on offense and defense to try and catch teams off guard. We are very proud to have a defense that ranks among the top 10 in the state for our class."
One of those players who stood out for me was running back Kobe Harris. The sophomore only stands 5-7, but has a motor that seems to run full tilt all game long.