Pebblebrook coach Leroy Hood knew the 2021 football season would be special because of the way the team finished 2020, and it had nothing to do with the play on the field.

The season had just ended with three straight losses, including a 35-6 setback in the first round of the playoffs to North Cobb. It was after that game Hood said he knew the team was going to be ready to roll in 2021.

“That next week that junior class came in and was ready to work,” he said. “The came in and asked, ‘When do we get started?’ It was something that didn’t happen the year before.”

Those players took ownership of the program and never stopped working. For the first time since 2006, Pebblebrook won nine games including a first-round playoff matchup against perennial postseason power Parkview. For his efforts for guiding the Falcons to the next level, Hood has been named the 2021 Cobb County Coach of the Year, as selected by the coaches.

As the calendar turned from 2020 to 2021, Hood watched his program continue to grow. He said the team numbers continued to grow each month and along the way added a significant piece in quarterback Qamar Grant.

The new signal caller allowed Hood and his staff to get creative by moving last year’s quarterback Craig Adams Jr. to wide receiver. Running back Dwight Phillips Jr. took over as the lead back near midseason and helped to add another explosive element to the offense.

“Getting Qamar was great,” Hood said. “He came to us in February, and I thought he was a pretty big kid. Then we saw him throw and we said, ‘Woah, this guy can spin it a little bit.’ He gave us a clear vision and allowed us to move Craig, who is our best athlete, and find him different ways to get the ball.”

Hood said being able to run the ball helped the entire team, and it became clear in the Region 2AAAAAAA opener against East Coweta. Phillips ran for 237 yards, including breaking touchdown runs for 77 and 84 yards in a 38-21 win.

“East Coweta was where we knew we were pretty good,” he said.

When the Falcons reached the postseason, they put an exclamation point on the year with a 44-41 win over Parkview. Hood said he hopes the first playoff win in 15 years continues to help propel the program forward.

“It was a marquee win,” he said. “Parkview is a well established program. I think that game showed we can play with anybody in the state.

“That win did a lot of us. It got people around the state talking about how Pebblebrook is a good program. I think it put us a year ahead of schedule.”

While the season ended the following week against eventual state champion Collins Hill, Hood said seeing what a championship team looks like will also pay dividends in 2022.

“We saw how they carried themselves,” he said. “They showed us how to go about our business. The experience will help.”

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