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Decatur High athletes ready to compete this fall

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Decatur High athletes ready to compete this fall

The football team during its preseason photo shoot. Photo by @kesonthedhspics on Instagram

By David McFarland, contributor 

Decatur, GA — A new school year has arrived, and that means it’s time for Decatur High School’s fall sports to kick off another season. The Bulldogs will be in action everywhere, from the football field to the volleyball court, and then some.

Girls + Boys Cross Country 

The Girls’ Cross Country team poses with one of its many 2022 trophies. Photo by @kesonthedhspics on Instagram

Where better to start than one of Decatur’s most consistently successful programs, the cross-country team? Both the Girls and the Boys have been dominant forces over the years, winning a pair of region championships in 2022, but their paths have split this season. On the one hand, the Boys’ team is undergoing a changing of the guard, while on the other, the Girls’ team remains largely intact and is gearing up for another run at a state title. Senior and captain Penelope Goebel said, “The biggest goal for the Girls’ team, of course, is to win the state championship back to back.”

Head Coach Mary Souther backs that up. “We only lost two senior girls from varsity. While the girls who graduated will be missed, we are still in a very strong position. Several girls who were just outside of the varsity team last year are ready to step up and have great seasons.”

This season has special significance to Goebel. “I’m looking forward to this season being my senior season. My last chance in high school cross country to show what I’ve got it. I’ve been training a lot and I think I have a lot of potential to do well … My personal goals include running a 19:15 in the 5k, keep my weekly mileage at around 40-50 miles per week, and to not get injured.”

The Boys’ team, on the other hand, is in the midst of a transition year. Head Coach Souther said, “The team lost a lot of seniors in 2023 ….The top 12 runners make up the official varsity team, and from the boys varsity, nine were seniors.”

While the task of replacing almost an entire team has no easy solution, Souther is unfazed.  “The boys have a lot more work to do in order to replace those seniors. However, they’ve been working hard all summer, and we also have a huge group of freshmen coming in with some real talent. Anything can happen in a cross-country season, but we are confident that we will be very competitive!”


The Varsity football team poses for a preseason picture – Taken and provided by Keson Graham (@kesonthedhspics on Instagram)

The Football team is coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent history in 2022. Decatur won its regional championship (with a perfect record no less) for the first time since 2004 and made a run in the playoffs to the second round. That was Head Coach William Felton’s third year in charge and continued a trend of season-over-season improvement under Coach Felton, who received recognition of his own in the form of a nomination for the NAACP Narvie J. Harris Education Award.

Now, with another new season on the horizon, Decatur is aiming even higher. The Bulldogs have a region championship to defend and though the losses of its 2023 seniors put a bump or two on the road, new talent and internal improvement have the Bulldogs ready for another successful campaign.


The softball team celebrates after a 2022 match against Stockbrige. Photo by @kesonthedhspics on Instagram

The Varsity Softball team comes into 2023 looking to build off a very successful debut season for Head Coach Taryn Williams, who guided the Bulldogs to second place in the region with a 17-10 overall record in 2022. For Senior Sofia Torres-Botta, this year is the chance to go one step further. “As a team, I think a goal a lot of us have is wanting to win region this year. We have a solid team of a bunch of really talented girls, and as a whole, we are definitely capable of achieving this goal.”

Torres-Botta is confident the team’s experience and lessons learned from past seasons will be a vital tool for the Bulldogs and give them an edge. “We learned about the importance of working as a team and how our connection outside of softball translates to our games. It’s important to have a close environment where we can all trust each other because if we can’t do that outside of softball, then we definitely can’t work well together on the field. It’s important that we have a good sense of trust and communication that we bring into this year to push each other to get through each game.”

The loss of last year’s seniors will make such a task a little more difficult, but the Bulldogs’ new generation is ready to take over.

Torres-Botta highlights two opponents that can make that “fun season”  reach its full potential. She’s looking forward to games against Chamblee and Dunwoody this year.


The volleyball team’s huddle before a 2022 match against Paideia. Photo by @kesonthedhspics on Instagram

Like Softball, Decatur Volleyball comes into the 2023 season looking to improve off a runner-up region finish in 2022. Though the Bulldogs fell just short against Chamblee in the region tournament and Northside in round one of the playoffs, senior and captain Madden Reagan is ready for Decatur to seize its chance to take the next step this time around.  “We really want to get past the first round of the state tournament this year and win our region.”

Reagan describes how part of what will propel Decatur onward are the lessons and experience gained from last season. “Last season, I think we became very close as a team. This year we have a number of returning players so hopefully, we can carry the chemistry from last year into this season. I think these bonds and similar mindsets will be very important when trying to reach our goals.”

On-court quality is the other component needed for Decatur to achieve its goals and Reagan is confident that’s not lacking. “I am really excited about the talent on the team this year. Additionally, everyone on the team is very passionate and excited about the season.”

That goes for Reagan, especially, as she enters her senior year and final season on the volleyball team. “Being a senior this year makes this season even more special. As a senior and captain, my personal goals would be to serve as a role model to some of the younger girls on the team and set the standard for a fun and positive environment. I am especially excited about senior night set to be on Oct. 3 and hope to see a lot of people there.”

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