With only 10 seniors on the roster, such growing pains were to be expected. The Pirates, 2-5 on the season, are looking to turn things around.
“Through the first six games, we had some tough losses and really showed our youth,” said Stone Mountain head coach Dante’ Ferguson. “We mostly have sophomores and juniors — a lot of first year guys — and it’s showed.”
Turnovers and missed assignments have been the team’s Achilles’ heel.
“Simple things like that we didn’t have to worry about last year,” Ferguson said. “It’s not that we’re getting beat up physically, it’s mental.
“That comes with knowing our system and executing … I told our guys we could easily be 6-0.”
As the season has worn on, though, Ferguson’s squad has started to gain the requisite confidence for competing week to week in top-heavy Region 6-AAAA’s Division A. The Pirates currently find themselves in third place in those standings.
“This is a great group of guys — they’re hanging in there,” Ferguson said. “It’s just a matter of keeping them focused.”
The Pirates, for all their struggles this season, have also had their share of bright spots.
Quarterback Corderal Cook, a Division I hopeful, had tossed 13 touchdowns through the team’s first six games.
“He’s got a great attitude … he’s a smart, strong kid who works hard,” said the Pirates coach of the junior signal caller. “I’m excited to see his development and our other guys.
“That’s why I love this game. You’re dealing with kids and you don’t know what you’re going to get from them each week.”
Cook’s connection with Sammy Johnson has been a driving force for the Stone Mountain offense. The wideout hauled in six receptions for 153 yards and three touchdowns in the Pirates’ 41-15 win over Redan the previous week.
Johnson’s ascent this season is quite remarkable considering the fact that this season marks his first on the gridiron.
“He’s a basketball player ... some of the things he’s doing are simply amazing,” said Ferguson.
The Pirates’ roster also boasts standouts on the defensive side of the ball, including freshman linebacker Michael Hector and his older brother, Travis, at cornerback.
Translating that kind of talent into success is among Ferguson’s chief tasks.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time … as long as you keep winning, you control your own destiny,” he said.