The Stockbridge Tigers have a taste for victory, having won four region championships beginning with the football program’s first in 2012 under coach Kevin Whitley.
Now in his ninth year with Stockbridge High School, Whitley started turning the program around from its previous history.
“Those first couple of years were rough. We were 2-8 the first year; we were 6-5 the second year,” he said at the Henry County Schools’ recent media preview.
Each year saw more wins than losses, including three straight region championships, which Whitley attributed to mental and physical effort.
“We just kept believing and kept getting better and kept working hard and good things have happened for us,” he said.
Whitley gave props to seniors who were freshmen when the AAAAA program started its Region 4 winning streak in 2014.
“We’ve got a really special senior class,” he said. “Our senior class did 36-5 over their high school career. They’ve won three big championships.”
Seniors include the four who accompanied Whitley to the media preview – Brendan Cox, Austin Donaldson, Marquez Ezzard and Nasir Greer.
The 13-1 team “came up short” last year, Whitley said, although the squad reached state playoff semifinals twice, falling in its first loss of the 2016 season to the Buford Wolves, who in turn were beaten for the state crown by the Rome Wolves.
“We’re going to keep working hard,” he said. “We’re going to keep fighting until we finish.”
Greer, a 6-1, 183-pound free safety and receiver with 62 tackles to his credit, agreed.
“We’re trying to get better every day and finish the mission this year with state,” he said at the preview.
Whitley said afterward that the 17-year-old Rex resident has what it takes to help the Tigers “open the cage,” as the team hashtag proclaims.
“Nasir is a great person and player,” Whitley said. “He is a hard worker and he’s ready to play every Friday night.”
Greer said after the preview he enjoys the end of the week.
“I like the Friday nights and playing with my family on the field,” he said about the deep roster. “We always have fun on the field because we love this game and each other.”
Saturdays, too; the team visits Benjamin E. Mays High School on Aug. 26 for the Atlanta Inner City Classic against the Raiders, whom the Tigers beat last year.
Another Saturday, Sept. 2, finds the Lovejoy Wildcats hosting the Tigers.
Friday night lights will shine Sept. 8 in the season’s first home game against rivals Dutchtown Bulldogs, who will be looking for payback from their 2016 loss.
Greer will be an important part of Whitley’s strategy then and throughout the season, the coach said.
“He is a senior so we will need his leadership this year,” Whitley said. “He has to set the tone for our entire defense this year.”
Greer said his personal plan starts with gathering intelligence and continues with subterfuge.
“I try to know the formations and personnel so I can put myself in the best position to make a play,” he said, “and I try to disguise the coverage before the play starts.”
Like Whitley’s overview of the team, Greer said his contributions include body and mind.
“The main quality I bring to the game is being smart and knowing the game,” Greer said. “I’m also very athletic, but me knowing the game helps me move faster.”
Greer, who also runs track, brings commitment to the physical side of his game.
“I train every day,” he said. “Some days I lift, do field work or run. I just try to stay on my grind.”
Greer hits the books as well, owning a 2.93 core grade point average and favoring the formulas and statistics of math class.
“I like math because I like thinking and trying to figure things out,” he said.
Greer will be handing in his green and orange No. 3 jersey for the black and gold of the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“He picked a great school in Wake Forest, so the sky is the limit for him,” Whitley said, predicting Greer will be an All-Atlantic Coast Conference player before he leaves.
When he does, the future business major said he has mapped out his career path.
“I want to play in the NFL then afterwards run my own businesses,” Greer said.
But first, the senior has a legacy to leave.
“I want to get Stockbridge its first state championship and leave the young guys knowing how to be a leader and how hard they have to work,” said the son of Lamar Greer and Drina Williams.