Coach of the Week
Niketa Battle, Mays. When his Raiders defeated previously unbeaten Alexander 31-28 to up the team’s record to 8-1 on the season to earn this plaudit by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta, Coach Battle made it clear that the victory only brought his program one step closer to its goal.
“Our No. 1 goal has been from day No. 1 was to win the region (5-AAAAAA) and to be competitive in the playoffs,” Battle recalled.
Since that important victory, Battle’s program has rolled to a 42-27 win over Northgate, which delivered the region title, then have come playoff victories over Cambridge (42-14) and Lee County (35-22), the latter tied the school record from the 2003 team for most wins in a season (11) at a school that began playing football 36 years ago in 1981.
The win over Lee County also gave the present Raiders the record for most-consecutive wins at 11, their only loss coming in the season-opener to Stockbridge 34-35, when despite that loss Battle, who replaced Corey Jarvis, who was discharged from his position “after an investigation into mismanagement of school funds,” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, after three very successful seasons (30-9), said he “knew our potential.”
That knowledge was really solidified, said Battle, who had been the assistant head coach and who coached tight ends
and running backs the previous three seasons under Jarvis, when Mays came back from a 21-7 halftime deficit against
Peachtree Ridge in the second game of the season and posted its first win of the campaign with that 36-31 victory on the road.
“In that game, I could see that the football gods were with us. That was the turning point of our season. That is where our confidence was built,” Battle said. “Not only did the kids get better, but we as a staff got better, and we wanted what was best for the kids.”
Battle points to his coordinators, Kerry Hood, on offense, who has been at the program now going on four seasons,
and first year defensive coordinator, Reginald Austin, who took over for Jarvis, when he was dismissed from his duties, for helping continue the direction of the program started by his predecessor.
“Corey did a good job of mentoring me and putting me in the position that I’m in,” Battle said. “If Corey walked in here now, he would see that we are doing the same things as a staff that we did when he was here. We’re running the same system to a tee.”
Battle was a two-year All-Tift County outside linebacker at Tift County in middle Georgia in high school. He matriculated to Savannah State for three years before playing his last year of college football at Georgia Southern, where he earned a degree in logistics.
Battle is passionate about education. In fact, he proudly points to the success of his entire program, which has a combined GPA of 3.1 for the entire 136 kids in it, which is like a 82 average across the board.
“I stay on the kids about education because at the end of the day, if you can’t succeed in the classroom, if you can’t be disciplined enough to do what you need to do in that regard, you won’t make it to the second level of your education.”
Battle makes it saliently clear that he is not into “personal accolades,” as he phrased it, as a coach. “I want the kids
to become better persons, and I want our coaches growing together from a standpoint of personal growth. I’m here to
give wholeheartedly to this program and everyone involved in it.”