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Warriors Beat Cambridge, Notch First Homecoming Win in 10 Years

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Game-Changer: Senior cornerback Justin Sanders scampers toward paydirt after making a clutch victory-saving interception late in the game to seal the Warrior win against Cambridge.

Game-Changer: Senior cornerback Justin Sanders scampers toward paydirt after making a clutch victory-saving interception late in the game to seal the Warrior win against Cambridge.

Allison Hayes

Allison Hayes

Game-Changer: Senior cornerback Justin Sanders scampers toward paydirt after making a clutch victory-saving interception late in the game to seal the Warrior win against Cambridge.

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History was made on Friday, Sept. 21, with the North Atlanta 23 to 14 win over region rival Cambridge. For North Atlanta, a historically win-challenged program, the result was the first Warrior homecoming game victory in a decade’s time. The win also marked a stirring reversal of fortunes after the team absorbed a 44 to 8 loss to Cambridge in the prior season.

This year’s game was a nailbiter as neither team was able run away with the lead. With what some say is the most crucial North victory in the school’s history, the Dubs are in the thick of things in region play with a record of three wins and one loss.  

The school’s rowdy student section traveled well to Grady Stadium form the largest Warrzone section of the season. Whether the fans came for homecoming festivities or to see their team battle on the field, players said the boisterous revelry had a decided impact on the game. “The amount of people packed in there was crazy,” said senior Addie Derrick, a leader of the School Spirit Club. “It’s great to see the school spirit skyrocket because of how well the team is doing.”  

Defensively, the Warriors came out strong and opened the game with a 78-yard pick six from senior safety Iann Hicks. This play was just the start of a lockdown effort on the part of the defensive unit’s secondary. Hicks finished the night, adding to the first with another interception. Senior cornerback Justin Sanders also made a big impact on defense with two of his own interceptions, one which he returned for a touchdown late in teh game. “We stepped up when we had to,” said Sanders. “We made big plays when it mattered most.”

Quarterback Wiley Hartley led the offensive charge and his coaches noted that the Dub signal-caller did a tremendous job of taking care of the ball. He drove the ball down the field, yard by yard, and threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Justin Sanders to bring the Warriors back from a four-point deficit. “I knew that drive was going to make the difference in the game,” Hartley said. “No matter what, we weren’t going to lose that game.”

The game was tense up to the end. In the second half, the visiting Bears were driving for a possible when when gamechanger Sanders took his second interception of the day and ran it all the way back for a victory-securing touchdown. When the clock hit zero, North Atlanta students, dressed up in colorful beach party wear for the homecoming, stormed the field and mobbed the jubilant Dub players. “As we were shaking hands with Cambridge, I saw a wave of people coming toward us,” Hartley said. “It was pretty awesome because we rarely get to interact with the students.”

With the win, North Atlanta is now tied with Alpharetta for the second best record in the region. For the team, the win over Cambridge boosted team confidence and sent the message: these Warriors can fight through adversity and even win big games. This Friday night, it’s North Atlanta against region rival Northview, an away game that will take place in Johns Creek. It’s a homecoming game for the Titans and the Dubs will seek to play party wreckers. For this 2018 campaign, the New North continues. Stay tuned.

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