DUNWOODY, Ga. — While it was a disappointing year for Dunwoody in its first season playing in the state’s largest football classification, the varsity’s lack of success in 7-A did not trickle down to the rest of the Wildcats’ program. Far from it.
Dunwoody’s junior varsity team finished the season 6-1, the 7th/8th grade junior Wildcats reached the playoffs, and the 6th grade team won its division of the Georgia Middle School Athletic Association, beating Cedartown 21-6 in the championship game. It was sweet payback for the Wildcats, who were dominated by Cedartown during a regular season game.
“In order to beat Cedartown, which was bigger, faster and had beaten all of their opponents badly, including us, the boys had to play to their potential, and they did,” Wildcats coach Jon LeDoyen said. “As a coach, that was the best part. Watching each boy play to the best of his ability regardless of the outcome. Fortunately, they came out on top, and there was no doubt who was the best in the end. It was also huge for the program and where Dunwoody football is headed.”
What made the Wildcats’ season more impressive is they played all of their games on the road. Because of the pandemic, DeKalb County School District would not let the program use the high school field, and while the city allowed them to practice on the Peachtree Middle School field — which the city has operational control — the conditions were not suitable for games.
“I was disappointed DeKalb wouldn’t let us play at (the high school), but that’s something I couldn’t control,” said LeDoyen, whose oldest son Davis was the starting quarterback for the varsity and youngest son Porter the starting quarterback for the JV. “I told the boys and the parents the same, and also said that we should be grateful we were able to play in a league (GMSAA) that was following the GHSA guidelines, which enabled us to play football in the year 2020. The good thing about traveling every weekend, even for ‘home games’ was that we were able to play on turf fields.”
The middle school program was the brainchild of varsity coach Mike Nash, who saw first-hand how successful it could be coaching in Gwinnett county.
“I said it five years ago when I got here, Dunwoody has the capability to be a consistent powerhouse,” Nash said. “We were missing a few things, facilities, consistency in coaching, commitment to the weight room, and a quality feeder program. The last two are the most important. The junior varsity had a great year. A majority of the kids that contributed to that played in the first class of junior Wildcats. I think that is evidence of how much the feeder program means.”