Credit: Creekside High Facebook
Creekside Deflects Distractions in Pursuit of Second State Title
Two years ago, I started co-hosting the High School Scoreboard Show on 92.9 The Game with Chris Parker on Friday nights. One of our first guests was Creekside head coach Maurice Dixon. He talked about his team setting a goal of playing in the 15th game.
This year his team has made it to the biggest game of the season and needless to say it’s a different kind of week in Fairburn. There will be no game this Friday night, as the Seminoles will play in the Class 5A championship game on Wednesday.
“That has been the biggest challenge,” says Dixon. “What to do with these 12 days between games? We are trying to treat this week as regularly as possible. Sunday, we lifted and watched film. The last couple days have been heavy individual and heavy special teams. The next couple days we are going to go out there and get after it a little bit. We’ll walk through Friday morning, give them Saturday off and treat Sunday like Tuesday on the week of the game.”
The 15th game brings loads of distractions. In addition to the regular workload, there are interview requests. Updated rosters and depth charts must be provided. There are correct spellings and correct pronunciations, too, but there are some phone calls you simply don’t want to miss.
“I have communicated with all of my college teammates from West Georgia,” recalls Dixon. “They called me to say that they are proud. I’ve talked to several coaches. I’ve talked to my high school coach. There has been a lot of outpour from people who want to see us break through. I think everybody is happy for us.”
Last Friday night Creekside secured their spot in the state final. It wasn’t easy, falling behind by two touchdowns to a Jefferson team that featured one of the state’s best high school players.
“It was a task,” recalls Dixon. “Sammy Brown is a heck of a player, but they have a number of great players, and they are very well-coached. We started off slow. They jumped out on us and we had to readjust, overcome and get back into the game. I just think that it’s a testament to those kids. I don’t know if in the past if we got down like that, we would have been able to dig ourselves out of a hole as deep as it was. Those kids have shown resilience since the beginning of the year. That’s what I got out of it. I have a resilient group that won’t quit.”
The scoreboard read 28-17 as the Creekside defense forced three turnovers and Roderick McCrary ran for 123 and a touchdown. There was also the splendid play of quarterback Vinson Berry, who completed 14 of 25 passes for 178 yards and three scores.
“I believe that Vinson Berry is the best quarterback in 5A football,” proclaims Dixon. “He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the state. It’s the growth he has made from last year to this year. He was already a really good player but he has grown as far as leading our team and leading our offense .. At the back we are lucky to have two of them. Both Rod and Travis Terrell got 13 touchdowns. I just think they really complement each other. On defense it all starts up front with Michai Boireau, Jordan Cardentey and Shumond Johnson. They have been playing at a real high level. At the back-end Ricky McCrary. and Kevon Gray are leading the guys, so I think we are playing our best ball at the right time.”
It does appear that Creekside has found its stride, having won 11 straight games. Their one and only setback coming on a cross-country trip to California, where national powerhouse Mater Dei beat the Seminoles 62-0. That was back on Sept. 2, yet the lessons learned on that trip are paying dividends now.
“Our kids saw what excellence looks like,” recalls Dixon. “Mater Dei has a great program and they are very, very talented and we knew that going in. It was a measuring stick. Even though we lost, if you look at the film, we were really close. They made some very elite plays against us and I think what helped the most is we learned to play at that speed of the game. The tempo at the elite level is a very fast football game and we play teams that are not used to that kind of speed. …That’s everybody but Coffee.”
Ah, yes, Coffee! That is the team the No. 2 Seminoles will face in the 5A title game. The No. 3-ranked Trojans are perfect (14-0) and if they weren’t on your radar before last Friday night, now they are front and center. Coffee went to Cartersville and dealt the No. 1 Purple Hurricanes a 33-18 loss. Home losses are rare for Cartersville and the Trojans won without a struggle.
“Exactly…It wasn’t a close game,” says Dixon. “We got film on them. They are extremely fast; they are fast to the ball on defense. They run a physical offense, where they try to pound you. The quarterback is very good. He is deceptive, but he is a good quarterback. He does a good job of making the throws when he needs to, and he is good at extending plays when he needs to. I am fearful of what they can do on defense and I’m extremely fearful of what they can do on offense.”
It was back on Dec. 13, 2013, that Creekside beat Tucker in the Georgia Dome to win the school’s first state football championship. How ironic that next week Creekside, at 13-1, will go for the second state football championship in school history on December 13th.
“When we play on the 13th, it will be the exact day 10 years ago,” says Dixon. “So, there is lot going into that. I see Chris Collins (a linebacker on that team) all the time. He and (former offensive lineman) Jason Stanley are really around. Many of the others come through, but those are the two that stick out the most. They come and talk to the boys. They pour into them.”
They hail from a region of Metro Atlanta that is known for talented, well-coached high school programs. South Fulton is home to Westlake, Hapeville Charter, a 2017 state champion, and Hughes who won a state title last year. When the Seminoles step onto the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they will be representing more than just their school.
“It’s a lot of buzz, people are excited,” says Dixon. “This is big for Creekside. We are a great school. I just want everyone to see how great the school is. I will tell everybody the South Fulton community is comparable to any community in the country. That’s in academics, athletics and the arts . Our kids are really talented, and they come from solid support systems that allow them to do well on the big stage. I’m just happy that our part of Fairburn is on display so everybody can see it.”