ATLANTA — Winning one is only the beginning, at least when it comes to building a top program.
After earning its first state championship, the question now becomes: Can Burke County do it again?
“We got some guys, some talent out here in the state championship game coming back,” coach Eric Parker said. “But we’re trying to set this thing up where we can do it year after year. We feel like that’s what championship programs are about.”
Heading into next year, the Bears must deal with some turnover.
More than 20 players were seniors this season. Four of the six ball carriers in the title game will be gone, as will two starting offensive linemen and defensive stars DaVonte Lambert and Derwin Butler
But the returning core has a playmaker who should star — again.
Sophomore Donquell Green split time at quarterback with senior Corey Mayton. They both rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season and scored twice against Peach County in the 28-14 state championship win.
With his speed, Green needs just a sliver of space to break into the open field, as he did on his 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Green finished with 117 rushing yards in the game and gets starters Deion Dukes, Jay Dye and Juwan Gardner back in the trenches.
If the Bears are to win its second title next season, it will have to do it in a higher classification. The Bears move to Class AAAA.
Buford was the last program to win back-to-back titles but in different classifications, as the Wolves won in Class A in 2001 and Class AA in 2002.
In the quest to do the same, Mayton sees more success for the team and for Green.
“It’s going to be bright for him,” Mayton said. “He was a thousand-yard rusher this season and I’m sure he’ll have two or three [thousand] next season.”