Sweet Water has set bar high in football over last 35 years

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Atkins stayed at Sweet Water for four more seasons before deciding to move on in 1990.

His record in 23 years at Sweet Water was 229-53-5.

“We had some real good talent, and that always makes a better coach than no talent does,” Atkins said. “The kids in this area are used to hard work, and they didn’t mind it. We had great parent support, as well as support from the principals, teachers and staff. We were all in it together.”

Atkins felt that the motivation for winning championships began in 1967 when Thomaston won the state championship.

“They were a rival, and when they won, it made our kids talk about it and start setting goals,” he said.

Atkins said his time as head coach at Sweet Water was a good ride.

“I had no idea I’d stay as long as I did,” he said. “I learned everything from other people, and our success took a lot of hard work from everyone. A lot of people contributed to that. When I left, I felt it was time for a change, and time to turn it over to someone else. You put more pressure on yourself as a coach than other people do, and I felt it was time to look at another area.”

Through the 1990s, there was a lot of turnover at the head coaching position for the Bulldogs, and along with that came no consistent success like the school and fans were used to.

In 2002, current Sweet Water head coach Stacy Luker took over the reigns of the program, and has returned the Bulldogs to the top of the mountain.

Luker was a player under Atkins in 1981-82, and, with the help of his former coach, was hired by the school as P.E. teacher and tagged as defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs.

“I asked Coach Atkins if I could help out and they happened to have a couple of openings at the time,” Luker said. “I knew nothing. I knew a little bit about football, but I didn’t know anything about coaching. He gave me a lot of responsibility on that team.”

He coached at Washington County and Thomasville in the 90s before returning home in 2002.