The season began with heartache for the Creekside Seminoles with the sudden loss of De’Antre Turman during the season opening scrimmage game, it ended with tears of joy and thoughts of their fallen teammate as they hoisted the 2013 Georgia Class 5A championship trophy.
“When I first took this job I thought it was a diamond in the rough. I thought all the talent and pieces were there and we just had to cultivate it, instill some discipline and the kids bought into everything I was preaching to them from day one and I’m just so excited to finally get this thing done,” Creekside head coach Olten Downs said.
Creekside (15-0) ranked No.64 nationally, put that talent and pieces together to defeat nationally ranked No. 43 Tucker (14-1) 52-28 to win their first-ever state championship becoming the first school from South Fulton county to win a state title since 1983 (Palmetto). The ‘Noles broke open a tie game after halftime on the opening kick off when Cameron Johnson returned it 99 yards for a touchdown for their first lead at 21-14 and they would never relinquish it. Jackson led Creekside with eight tackles.
Tucker’s Elijah Sullivan fumbled on the next possession and two plays later Creekside found the end zone again on a 16-yard Dexter Neal run to put the Seminoles up 28-14. Tucker would hang tough but it was all Creekside the rest of the night. Creekside outscored Tucker 24-14 in the third quarter, 38-14 in the second half.
“We’ve been a great second half team all year-long and we knew coming into the game it was going to be about adjustments and making the fewest amount of mistakes,” Creekside head coach Olten Downs said. Downs is in his first year after coming over from Riverdale and won a state title as a player in 2000 at Shaw (GA).
Running back Dexter Neal stole the show rushing for 164 yards and 5 touchdowns. Neal wasn’t alone as backfield counterpart Bricen Terry rushed for 144 yards as Creekside racked up 326 yards rushing against a vaunted Tucker defense.
“It’s truly a blessing that all my teammates could come together and we could do this on one accord and for one fight and one cause,” Neal said about winning the state title. What about those five touchdowns Mr. Neal? “I owe it all to my offensive line, I really shouldn’t be getting this credit, it’s my offensive line and my other back ‘BT’ (Bricen Terry), he was wearing them down with me. I just owe it to the whole team because everybody was behind me and we all fought together,” Neal added.
Felix Harper hit Jayson Stanley for a 77-yard touchdown pass for Creekside’s only passing score of the day. The sophomore quarterback finished 8-14 209 yards 1TD 1INT on the day. Harper didn’t show his age yet showed poise in guiding Creekside to their first two touchdowns leading the ‘Noles 80 yards in 15 plays and 96 yards in 8 plays answering Tucker touchdowns.
“The upside for [Felix] Harper is that he’s just a baby and he can only go up from this point. We’ve been tough on him as coaches to get it done and he’s responded very well and were proud of him,” Downs said about his starting quarterback.
Creekside held Tucker without a 100-yard rusher as quarterback Joseph Farrar lead the Tigers with 90 yards and a touchdown as Tucker put up only 158 yards on the ground. Farrar was 7-18 178 yards and two touchdown through the air. Dominick Sanders caught two touchdowns while Yaquis ‘Duke” Shelley added a rushing touchdown for Tucker.
“It’s big, anything less than this is unacceptable, were just setting the standard for Creekside football and we want to be a power in the state of Georgia and that’s where were headed,” Downs responded when asked about bringing home the first state title in Creekside history.
Creekside’s inspired play carried them to a championship and what a great way to end the story of the 2013 Creekside Seminoles.