SMYRNA, Ga - When you think of traditional football powers in Cobb County you might tick off McEachern, Marietta, Hillgrove, North Cobb or Walton to head your list. But, long ago one of the county's top programs called Smyrna home. The Campbell Panthers made the playoffs regularly before the school merged with Wills High School and became present day Campbell High School. Since the merger in 1989, Campbell, now known as the Spartans, has struggled to find its football identity.
'I always knew where Campbell was." Head Coach Kyle Adkins said, " I think this (school) is a real diamond in the rough. They didn't win a game last year and it's tough when a new coach comes in and there's change. It's tough on seventeen and eighteen year-olds to buy in on a coach they don't even know. We have some star power here and we hit the ground running trying to get these kids the attention they deserve."
The senior class Adkins is referring to- twenty three strong- is making a difference this season for a school that hasn't made the playoffs since 2006. Atkins took the job in January after spending two seasons changing the football culture at East Cobb's Pope High School. Before that, he was in Shaw High School in Columbus, laying the groundwork for an eventual move to the Atlanta metro area, specifically Cobb County.
"We did a lot of travel for 7-on-7 games when I was at Shaw. We were the only ones doing that in Columbus at the time. "said Adkins, "We came up to Lassiter and the facilities were just fantastic, and you didn't realize until you got here how good the coaching was. The coaching sets Cobb County apart...you better be ready every week or you're gonna be embarrassed."
Former Campbell head coach Phillip Ironside returns to face Adkins' 2-1 Spartans this Friday night when the Hillgrove Hawks (1-2) visit McDaniel Stadium. Adkins told FOX 5 Sports this will be a great test for his team.
"It's another opportunity for us to get better and another chance to get ready for region play which doesn't start for us until October. It's another chance to line up and see where we stand."
Where the Spartans stand right now is pretty encouraging. They just shut out a team for the first time in ten years when they spanked Sprayberry 30-0 on the road last week. Add a nice win over favored rival South Cobb and things are shaping up nicely for Campbell. According to Adkins they aren't perfect on either side of the ball, but they have big senior talent at wide receiver led by Georgia Southern commit Marcus Rogers, Ray Decosey and Coby Deprill.
Cobb County schools were shut down this week due to Hurricane Irma, so both Campbell and Hillgrove had to rely on texts, emails and online tools like HUDL in order to stay in touch with their players because neither school was allowed to practice on Monday or Tuesday.
Campbell will have their student body behind them as they go for their third win. The Spartan faithful helped vote Campbell our Team of the Week by defeating four other schools on our High 5 Sports Facebook poll- now they'll be treated to a live Thursday pep rally on Good Day Atlanta hosted by Paul Milliken.