Staff / Katherine Frye
From left, Martin Luther King, Jr. High School seniors Jairus Long, Kwan Stallworth and Robert Pritchett during DeKalb County Football Media Day.
Even though Nicolas Kashama is the fourth football coach at M.L. King in four seasons, the expectations are still lofty for the Lions.
“My primary message for the kids is reminding them of the history of the school,” Kashama said. “The sheer number of players who came through this program and what they have accomplished in the past.
“I told them basically everything in the history books has been accomplished at M.L. King except for Game 15,” Kashama said. “Anything less than Game 15 has already been done so our main goal is going back to the Dome and trying to win the whole thing.”
The first and only Lions’ team to play in the Georgia Dome was the 2004 squad. But since then, M.L. King has advanced to the playoffs and won at least eight games a season except last year’s team.
“I told them you got a lot of big shoes to fill,” Kashama said. “The pride and history of M.L. King is very rich. You have to live up to that and create your own legacy.”
The players expected to lead this charge are seniors Kwan Stallworth, Robert Pritchett and Jairus Long. According to www.rivals.com, Stallworth, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive tackle, has offers from Memphis, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, South Alabama, Syracuse and Wake Forest.
Last season, Pritchett rushed for 464 yards, second most on the team, and caught two touchdowns. He said he is being recruited by Appalachian State and Middle Tennessee.
“We have a lot of kids who are coming back from last year but we don’t have a lot of them who played,” Kashama said. “We have 23 seniors but only seven saw playing time on varsity. A deep team as far as numbers, but experience wise we are very young.”
This is Kashama’s second stint with the program. From 2010-12, he was the defensive coordinator for Michael Carson.
“It will be the same formula we used when I was here with Carson,” Kashama said. “The system we used in the past has been tested and I do believe in our formula.”