The résumé of a region champion features a multitude of outstanding accomplishments, all of which confirm the worthiness of holding such a prestigious honor.
Cue in Arabia Mountain.
Throughout the season, the Rams have won games by a landslide and pulled out close-knit affairs. The team’s signature victory of the year came in a historic 14-7 thriller versus Southwest DeKalb at Godfrey Stadium. This triumph gave Arabia Mountain (No. 10, AAAAA) its first-ever Region 5-5A crown.
“I’m so proud of my coaches, the whole team and our school,” said Arabia Mountain head coach Stanley Pritchett. “This has been a great year. Everybody always says Arabia is a smart school, a magnet school. We play good football over here. We want to put Arabia Mountain on the map. We proved it here with hard work.”
Arabia Mountain’s offense normally lights up the scoreboard to the tune of 37.3 points per game heading into the contest against Southwest DeKalb. However, those wide open lanes and frequent trips to the end zone were closed off in this meeting.
The Rams are a balanced team, but in this championship-clinching outing, it was the defense which carried the team to the school’s quintessential moment.
“Our defense played tough all 48 minutes. They saved us tonight. Our offense couldn’t really get going, but the defense played phenomenally. My hat’s to the players and coaches on that side of the ball. I told the guys we refuse to lose,” said Pritchett.
Arabia Mountain jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Bryson Williams hit Josh Campbell for a 4-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. This score held through halftime and to close out the third quarter.
After stumbling due to a host of offensive penalties and going up against an impenetrable defense, the Panthers finally broke through and tied the game in the fourth quarter.
Facing third-and-goal from the two, Jamel Starks lowered his head and plowed his way across the line for a touchdown.
However, it was a short-live jubilation for the Southwest DeKalb faithful.
On the ensuing drive, Arabia Mountain regained momentum and the lead after Brandon Snowball dashed down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown.
“Silas Butler made a good block. I just broke some tackles and scored the touchdown. My team won and we’re region champs. That's all that matters,” said Snowball.
Southwest DeKalb had two chances late in the fourth to tie the game, but poor passes by Justin Tomlin hurt the team in the end.
Tomlin threw an interception in the end zone to Butler with 3:20 left in the quarter. However, the Rams were unable to run out the clock, giving Southwest DeKalb one last shot at pulling even.
The Panthers’ junior quarterback drove his team downfield with no timeouts, setting up for one final play from the 25-yard line with five seconds remaining. Unfortunately, Tomlin’s pass fell short of the end zone and the Rams stormed the field in celebration.
“We played hard. Our kids showed how resilient they are. We sputtered there, but our kids came back in the fourth quarter. We’re a good team and they’re [Arabia Mountain] a good team,” said Southwest DeKalb head coach Fletcher Salter.
The Rams improve to 8-1 overall and undefeated in the region at 4-0. Southwest DeKalb drops to 5-4 and 3-1 in league play.
Both schools close out the regular season next week as the visiting squad. Southwest DeKalb plays Columbia. Arabia Mountain faces Lithonia on Saturday, Nov. 5 in its final tune-up before the playoffs.