Sandy Creek High’s defense of their state football championship will come with a new leader at the helm. Darius Smiley is the new head coach of the Patriots, and he’s eager to add to the school’s trophy case.
“It’s a premier program in the state. Year in and year out, they’re consistently at the top of whatever classification they’re in,” he said. “Having an opportunity to be with this program and coach, that was the biggest draw for me.”
Smiley grew up in Pensacola where he was a multi-sport star at Booker T. Washington High, earning a scholarship to play football at Georgia Southern.
After a year in the corporate world coming out of college, Smiley found the fields were calling him back.
“The idea of being able to give back, to give back to the kids and give back to the game that helped shape and mold me into the guy that I am, and try to win, that’s what drives me,” he said. “I want to try to instill those things that I’ve learned from the game to the guys in our program”
It was his high school basketball coaches that left a deep mark and helped shaped who he became.
“I knew I wanted to be a coach because of the impact they had on me,” he said.
The Georgia Southern history connects him with Fayette County High head coach Nick Davis.
“He’s a guy I lean on for advice,” said Smiley. “We’ve been in conversation a good bit since I took over.”
The high-scoring offense and stingy defense are hallmarks of the Patriots, and if it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it.
“It will be the same base offense and defense,” he said. “I’ll add my flavor to it with a wrinkle here and there.”
The Patriots went 13-2 and won the fourth state championship in team history. Veteran experience from more than 30 seniors pushed them to top, but now they have to replace the heart of the team. Just 6 main contributors return, so it’s time for the next stars to step up.
“It’s just a matter of taking our lumps early with these younger guys, getting them the meaningful minutes that they need to know what Friday Night Lights are supposed to be like,” said Smiley. “We’re excited about the opportunity. What we do with it is going to boil down to us being disciplined, us being physical, and going out and executing at a high level.”
Get your first look at the new-look Patriots at the 3rd Annual Fayette-Coweta Kickoff Classic triple header at Newnan High on Saturday, August 19. Sandy Creek plays in the nightcap at 8 p.m. against the host Newnan Cougars. — Story provided by the Fayette County School System.
Darius Smiley takes over as the head coach of the state football champion Sandy Creek squad. The Patriots open their season on Saturday, August 19 at Newnan High.