ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Despite some unexpected offseason coaching changes, the New Manchester Jaguars are 1-1 heading into Friday night's matchup with a 0-2 Creekside squad.
Longtime Stockbridge and Creekside coach Kevin Whitley was hired as New Manchester's new coach but resigned in July to take an assistant job at Georgia Southern. But now, the school and community have rallied around the team and are excited to play in the High 5 Game of the Week Friday night.
"We got a new coach originally, everybody got excited about it, then we lost the coach and everybody got un-excited," said principal Tekmekia Gilchrist. "So now everybody is like, 'OK, we can do this.'"
"Everybody's excited. I mean, the whole community, the school, everybody's excited about being FOX 5 Game of the Week," said head coach Cedric Jackson. "It was great to hear that we actually won that. So our kids are excited, our administration, our whole school is excited about that."
Jackson held the title of defensive coordinator for the last three years at New Manchester, until Whitley resigned in July.
"Our team's been playing hard through this transition of me moving into head coach all of a sudden," he said. "We feel like we've been making improvements every week. We're 1-1 and looking to improve our record this week."
In the Jaguars' last game, a 35-16 victory at Lithia Springs, Jaguars running back Teondre Carter had 26 carries for 263 yards, one catch for 16 yards and four touchdowns.
But Jackson said a senior-heavy defense leads his squad.
"Our defensive line has to control the line of scrimmage," he said. "(Creekside is) big up front, so I think the matchup is going to be big up front because they like to run the ball. So it's important that our defensive line takes care of their jobs."
New Manchester will look to limit three-star athlete and Louisville commit Khatavian Franks and tree-star OLB Georgia Tech commit Tyson Meiguez.
Creekside head coach Maurice Dixon said the Seminoles are looking to get back to winning ways on Friday night.
"We're super excited. It's about time you guys came back down to Fairburn to see what we've got going on," Dixon said. "It's Creekside, so there's always high expectations. It's our job to be on the lefthand side of the win column."
Dixon agreed the battle will be won in the trenches.
"They're a really athletic team," he said of New Manchester. "We're going to see how they hold up against the run and if they've been lifting weights in the summertime."