Niketa Battle, Mays High School, Coach of the Week
It remains to be seen just how far that the Raiders from Region 5-AAAAAAA will be able to go in the GHSA 2017 state football playoffs, but one thing is certain according to Coach Battle, his team learned a valuable lesson from losing to Tucker in the quarterfinal round a year ago.
In that 28-21 loss, that ended Mays’ season with an 11-2 record for the first-time head coach, Battle found out that his team needed “to be stronger,” which he felt was the difference in losing to Tucker.
“We were in good shape, no question about that, but not strong enough with brute force to compete against them for four quarters,” Battle recalled.
Therefore, immediately after that game, Battle said, “We made a pack never to get out-strength by another team, and the kids bought into that.”
As a result, the only blemish on the Raiders’ record through the regular-season was a season-opening 9-0 loss to Stockbridge, which went on to produce a perfect 10-0 record and entered the state playoffs No. 3 in Class AAAAA.
The improved strength of the Raiders has shown up particularly on defense, it appears. A year ago,through ten games Mays scored an average of 40.7 points per game and allowed 18.9. This season, the offense has dipped a bit to 37.5 points
per contest, but the defense has improved significantly, allowing only 7.5 points, an average difference of 11.4 points per outing.
And while the players were working at getting, as the saying goes, bigger, faster, quicker and stronger, the coaching staff went to work watching more film, attending clinics, and “making our system even better than it was,” Battle said.
Furthermore, Battle said, another improvement in this season compared to last is that “We’ve had 100 percent buy in from the players, the coaches, the trainers…Everybody is on the same page.”
And, as a result, going into the playoffs against Sequoyah, their first round opponent , which the Georgia High School Football Daily had as a 20-point underdog to Battle’s Raiders, two of the team’s four goals for the season had already been met: have the most productive off-season ossible (getting stronger, first and foremost) and winning a second-consecutive region
championship under the current coaching staff.
That leaves only two other goals to be achieved: “being extremely competitive in the playoffs, and hopefully finishing the season by winning a state championship,” Battle said.
The last time an Atlanta City school had won a state championship was in 1973, when then Southwest of Atlanta won the state title under the tutelage of Coach Ted Sparks, That was 44 years ago, the same year Coach Battle was born.
But Coach Battle makes it clear that he and his coaches are not just interested in winning football games. To him, his job, and that of his staff, is to reach minds and, yes, hopefully in the process, improve souls.
His mantra: “Make God you solid foundation, and even if you fail, you will still fall on solid ground.”
-Courtesy of Tony McIntyre with All American Specialties