Photo of Coach Josh Alexander by Matthew Caldwell for the Oconee Enterprise.
After 50 wins, what’s next for Coach Josh Alexander?
Ever since Josh Alexander was hired to become head football coach in 2015, Athens Academy hasn’t been the same. Alexander gave newfound hope to the school, and his record, his publicity, and his overall kindness have led him to become one of the best coaches at Athens Academy.
Coach Alexander has had great success on the football field. He picked up his 50th win on Oct. 11 against George Walton, beating them 38 to 6, and he has only picked up 7 losses in between those 50 wins. He also led the Spartans to back-to-back region championships and has not conceded a region loss since the Spartans were shut out at Prince Avenue, 28-0, on Nov. 4, 2016.
Coach Alexander has relied on many veteran assistant coaches to get him to this position. In his fifth year assisting Alexander and first year as offensive coordinator, Denny Dotson has gotten the Spartans to historic levels in terms of scoring. The Spartans are averaging over 39 points a game, which is on pace to break the scoring record of Alexander’s first historic season in 2017, when they averaged just over 37 points per game. The Spartans also broke the single-game scoring record, scoring 77 points over Towns County back in September.
The defense is also one of the best across the entire state. Veteran coaches Don Chuboff and Marvin Barton have helped Alexander’s Spartans to become one of the most dominant defenses, giving up 6 points a game, including shutting out rival Prince Avenue, 24-0, for the first time ever and only giving up 106 total yards.
Athens Academy plays Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in the 2018 GHSA Football Championship. Photo by John Amis for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Spartans have also done well in the playoffs under Alexander. In 2017, the Spartans easily made the semifinals as the #2 seed in the state. The Spartans eked out a 14-7 win thanks to then-sophomore Len’neth Whitehead’s 120-yard rushing game and a defensive touchdown early in the 3rd quarter. The Spartans then played the #1 and undefeated Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in the first ever State Championship played in the newly-built Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Spartans were no match for the Chargers, only gaining 22 total yards in a 41-3 loss, but the Spartans learned that history could repeat itself when they made the playoffs the following year.
The route to Mercedes-Benz was much harder in 2018. The #1 Spartans pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat #16 Mount Vernon 27-13 and used Len’neth Whitehead’s late TD to beat #8 Calvary Day, 25-19. The Spartans thoroughly handled the #4 Prince Avenue Wolverines and allowed two late Wolverine TDs, but secured the win 28-21, setting up a matchup with the #2 Chargers in Mercedes-Benz. The Spartans came out firing on the first drive, and James Williams secured a long field goal. The Spartans shut down the Eagles’ star running back Keaton Mitchell and led 10-0 going into halftime, with Whitehead scoring on a 54-yard run in the second quarter. But Palmer Bush’s three interceptions and the Eagles’ offense explosion in the second half led to the Eagles’ 27-point win. The Spartans have come so close to a championship win twice in a row, but so far they’ve fallen short.
Because of Coach Alexander’s great success, the Spartans expect nothing less than a state title in 2019 and beyond. The Spartans have finally reached the #1 rank according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the first time in 40 years, since Eagle’s Landing lost early in October to Holy Innocents’ School. If the Spartans stay undefeated into the playoffs, they will look to head back to Atlanta with solid talent, great coaching, and past history on their side to win the school’s first ever state title.