By Tyree Brown
LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — Recently hired head coach Dale Myers hopes his scheduling plan rebuilds a hurting Forest Park football program.
“Someone in the county decided that we will be playing 6A football when we are really a 5A school.” Myers said.” We weren’t even competitive at 5A (last season).”
Myers is the 10th head coach of the program in the last 13 seasons. Myers became the head coach once previous head coach, Reginald Austin, suddenly resigned last summer, the weekend before fall practice was slated to begin.
Since his start in August, he has set his sights on returning the program back to fielding a consistently competitive team.
However his start as head coach did not have the success he’d hope for. During the 2015-2016 year, the Panthers ended the season with zero wins, and the once-proud Panthers have gone 2-38 over the last four seasons.
With each loss spanning a double digit deficit, Myers knew that his team would not fare well in a region with powerhouse offenses such as Stephenson and Jonesboro.
“Our region’s average (2015) win total is about 7 games,” Myers said. “There are many playoff teams in that region which is not good for a team trying to rebuild a program.”
Rebuilding this teams starts by disciplining the young talent Myers has accumulated. On Tuesday, Myers brought his team to Warren Holder Park in Locust Grove in order to compete in the Adidas 7v7 Georgia North Regional State Championship Series. The Panthers also competed in the Cam Newton 7-on-7 Passing League Tournament at Woodward Academy in College Park this past weekend.
The team seems young and eager with promising talent like quarterback Rayshawn Meiser. Meiser is an incoming sophomore, along with many of his teammates. Fairly new to the program, Meiser said he hopes to improve on his mobility in the pocket as well as his throwing arm.
One of Meiser’s targets include fellow rising sophomore Jaquez Bailey.
“Even though I’m young I’m trying to be a leader on the team,” Bailey said. “Then we can work as a team, and hopefully have more wins than last year.”
Myers is relying on his youth for the upcoming season. Myers knows the young team will have major competition with the change in region. But he believes the newfound discipline he’s seeing from his bunch will be the game changer.
“My freshman are leading the way in terms of attendance, in terms of academic success, and in behavior.” Myers said.
Forest Park’s 2016 schedule will include teams like Morrow and Clarkson — both teams also experienced a tough 2015 season. With the Panthers having winnable games while facing teams in similar situations, it could possibly bring back some swagger.
“Going off region will help build the program and gain some confidence,” Myers said. “Already we are a more physical team, a more disciplined team, so right now were better than we were last year.”