Dacula linemen get set against Lanier
Dacula, Ga - The 2018 Dacula Falcons have flown under the radar for most of the season en route to their fourth region title in five years. Other Gwinnett County football programs usually steal the headlines, receiving invites to the Corky Kell Classic, making appearances on ESPN and trotting out 5-star recruits on Friday nights. Not the Falcons. They've got big-time players for sure, including former UGA commit Jalen Perry, but Dacula generally relies on a more pedestrian approach to the game- teamwork and dedication.
"We're one of the smaller schools in Gwinnett County," Dacula Athletic Director Zach Smith said. "In some areas we lack the resources of other schools, so when we get an opportunity we need to make the most of it."
Case in point. The rare chance to be seen by the rest of the state as the feature game on Georgia Public Television last week. Smith and his staff played host to the GPB crew, drawing rave reviews from staffers for their hospitality and game day preparation as the Falcons shutout the Lanier Longhorns 23-0 in a Region 8-6A title showdown.
"We care about how we treat people and how our community is perceived, and I think that kind of showed in the way our kids performed that night. We're very appreciative for last week and for this week as well," said Smith, commenting on Dacula's Team of the Week award for their victory over Lanier. It's the Falcons' fourth such honor, making them the first school to win four High 5 Sports Hand Trophies.
First year head coach Clint Jenkins took over when Tommy Jones left Dacula after four successful seasons to start the football program at Cherokee Bluff High School in Hall County. Jenkins was the logical replacement. He was popular with the players and understood the Dacula culture having served as the team's defensive coordinator under Jones.
"We have full faith in Clint and we always have," Smith told High 5 Sports. "There were no surprises. He knows the game of football and he loves his kids. These are great kids he's got. I'm not comparing them to previous teams, but they have student leadership roles, they're respectful to other students and adults as well. Our players are great from a character standpoint, as well as being good athletes."
Jenkins' team seems to be finding itself late in season, reeling off six straight wins after starting the season 1-2. The Falcons have made back-to-back sweet sixteen appearances in the playoffs, and were an extra point away from advancing to the elite eight last season. And while they don't grab the headlines like neighboring Mill Creek, Archer and Grayson, Dacula could be hard to ignore if they can find a way to make it to that elusive third round of the GHSA playoffs.
"Anything can happen once you get to the elite eight and hopefully our past experience will help us," said Smith.
Dacula hosts a pep rally with Good Day Atlanta's Paul Milliken Thursday morning, and then turns their attention to their final regular season game as the Falcons host Winder-Barrow Friday night at Barron Field.