New Orleans native Darren Myles has come a long way since his days as a high school football student athlete and coach. Come Friday, December 3, Myles will lead an historic Atlanta high school football team into the semi-finals of the AAA Georgia High school football state championship playoffs.
This year will mark Myles’ 18th season in Atlanta as a head coach for the one-time resident of New Orleans’ upper 9th ward. Sixteen of those years has been spent guiding the Panthers of George Washington Carver High school. For the second time, the Panthers will attempt to advance to the playoff finals on the road Friday December 3 against the Pierce County Bears in the coastal hamlet of Blackshear, Georgia.
After graduating with honors from New Orleans’ Francis T. Nichols High, Myles enrolled at Indiana’s Perdue University, graduating in 1991. He returned to his hometown to act as guardian to his younger sister, one of Myles’ three siblings following the death of his mother just two months after his college graduation. “Someone needed to be in the home with my sister to insure she’d finish high school and enroll in college,” he said in a phone interview from his office on Carver’s campus. “So, I became her guardian.” He also was hired by his high school alma mater and became the quarterbacks coach for four years. Once his sister’s future was stabilized, he looked further east to Atlanta upon the recommendation of his close friend and classmate Joe Pope who was enrolled at Atlanta’s historic Morehouse College. “He told me that if I wanted to teach, coach and succeed, the place for me to be was in the ATL.” With Pope’s help, he obtained a position with Atlanta’s Frederick Douglass High School as a running backs coach. One of his proteges during his four years at Douglass was Jamal Lewis, who later became an all-pro running back with the Baltimore Ravens.
In 2003, Myles got his first head coaching job at Atlanta’s Alonzo Crim High school, alma mater for Chicago Bear defensive end and Super Bowl MVP Richard Dent and longtime New York Jet linebacker Morris “Mo” Lewis. In his two years at Crim, Myles compiled a 6-14 win-loss. His last year at the school, however, produced a 4-7 mark, enough for his first trip to the playoffs. It would not be his last. in 2005, he moved to Carver. In 16 years with the historic high school named for the black scientific genius, the Panthers have made post-season trips in 13 of those years. including advancement to the state quarterfinals twice (2007, 2020) and the semi-finals (2017, 2021). The state title has eluded Myles and Carver but so have the fates of most of Atlantas’10 other football playing high schools. In fact, the last city team to win a state football title was Southwest in 1973. The Wolves, playing on the road, defeated Americus (Ga) 21-7. Three of the city’s schools got close. In 1975, Douglass lost to Central Macon (Georgia) 21-14. In 1990. the former Joe Brown High school lost in the state AA finals to Pepperell 42-8, and Mays High School lost the state AAAAA title game 25-8 to Northside of Warner Robins, Georgia.
Myles, however, believes this third time in the semi-finals, the stepping stone to the final stanza, will indeed be the charm. His confidence is buoyed with 21 of his 74 players returning seniors and an assistant coaching staff that has been with him since he started at Carver 16 years ago. “We’ve been through some rough times against some tough teams. But they’re dedicated to this program as much as a I am. So are my assistants. We’ve been battle tested.”
About Hal Lamar
Hal Lamar is a retired broadcast and print journalist. He is an Atlanta native and has family in the state of Louisiana thanks to wife Patsy, a native of Hammond, Louisiana.
Last updated on December 7, 2021