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State of the Program: 'Everybody's excited' - Denmark ready for jump to Class 7A to join county rivals
08052020 Denmark State of the Program
File photo
Jamie Corr found his second year as Denmark's athletic director to be easier than his first year.

Surely, it helped to have cheerleading capture the school's first team state championship, the boys basketball reach the Final Four, and several spring programs positioned to compete for a region title.

"Everything's easier than Year 1," Corr said. "Year 1 is always a true challenge to get everything set up the right way. Fortunately, I have a great administration, great assistants and an outstanding coaching staff that made my job a lot easier."

Denmark Year in Review

Region titles: 3
Team state titles: 1
Individual state titles: 0
Director's cup finish: 7th in Class 4A (6th in girls; 8th in boys)
Best boys state finish: Second, cross country

Best girls state finish: First, cheerleading

This year, however, Denmark will jump from Class 4A to Class 7A, where the Danes will compete against Forsyth Central, Lambert, North Forsyth, South Forsyth, West Forsyth and Gainesville.

Denmark's football program looks to take the next step after reaching the playoffs for the first time in school history, while cheerleading, gymnastics and wrestling enter regions where the winner is traditionally expected to vie for a state title.

FCN: How excited are you to see Denmark jump up to Class 7A from Class 4A and join the other Forsyth County public schools in Region 6-7A?

Corr: "Everybody's excited about joining the Forsyth region. Number one, it's just such a common-sense solution. Instead of staying 6A and competing in eastern Gwinnett, going 7A Forsyth is just a lot more beneficial to our athletes both academically and athletically."

FCN: You were in a region with established state powers Blessed Trinity and Marist, especially in baseball. With you being a baseball guy, what was it like having to start off in a region like that?

Corr: "We knew that would be a very top-heavy region. With Flowery Branch in there as well, it was going to be very tough just to secure a playoff spot. The first year, we were very lucky to win our last five games and get the No. 4 seed in the playoffs in baseball. To do what our boys did and make it all the way to the state finals was a tribute to the coaching staff and how hard all those players worked."

FCN: The football team had a ton of expectations in just the second year. How do you think they manage that pressure?

Ze'Vian Capers
Denmark wide receiver Ze'Vian Capers, left, catches a touchdown pass Friday during the Danes' 20-19 loss to Blessed Trinity. Photo by Ben Hendren

Corr: "I think the coaching staff did a great job of minimizing the importance of all that press. I think they did a good job of getting our players to focus on the daily task at hand, which is, number one, execute everything in practice and, number two, take it to Friday night and execute everything in the game."

FCN: This was Denmark's second year in existence. Did you ever think your school would be competing for, and winning, state championships that early?

Corr: "I think in a way we have surpassed some of our own expectations. But by the same token, we know the quality of education that Forsyth County provides, and we know the outstanding area we live in. It's truly a great place to live, and it attracts people that are not only incredible athletes, but incredible students as well."

"When you have two state championship trophies in the trophy case after a year and a half of existence, you know you're in the right place. Sarah Wilson, garnering the school's first-ever state championship, winning the gymnastics all-around in our first year of competition was amazing. Then, cheer capturing the team title in Year 2 shows the dominance of cheerleading in Forsyth County in general. Now we go into 7A, where you have potentially five state championship quality squads every single season."

FCN: Denmark managed to land Mike Palmieri to replace head football coach Terry Crowder. How did you know he was the right person for the job?

Corr: "We had a tremendous number of high-, high-quality (candidates) qualify for the position. We were just lucky that Mike threw his name in the hat. Then, once he did, he of course stood out as a first-rate candidate. So far, he has been nothing but outstanding with our students, our parents and our faculty."

FCN: Football starts off the Palmieri era in the Corky Kell Classic. What's the excitement level surrounding that game?

Corr: "We're very excited to play in the Corky Kell and represent Forsyth County. We have been matched up with Greater Atlanta Christian, which is always a quality football program, and athletic program in general. We look forward to that challenge."

FCN: Boys basketball made a big splash in its second year by reaching the Final Four. What did you see out of head coach Tyler Whitlock and that program this past year

Corr: "Advancing to the Final Four in Year 2 of an athletic program is no small feat, especially in a high-profile sport like basketball. We threw four to five guys out on the court each night that were 6-foot-5 or above. You couple that with a point guard (Sutton Smith) who is second to none and we knew we would have an opportunity to compete against the best."

"Making it to the Final Four and losing to the eventual champion, which had an absolute phenomenal guy in the middle (Walker Kessler), we're extremely proud of our men's basketball program and what they've done over these past couple years."

FCN: Obviously, everyone had to deal with the fallout of COVID-19, but how disappointing was it for you to see these spring seasons get cut short?

Corr: "I thought we had a lot of optimism going into the spring, building off of our fall and winter sports. Spring was hitting the ground running. Soccer was off to great starts -- both boys and girls. Lacrosse was poised to shoot for a playoff spot in both boys and girls. Then, in baseball, they were picking up right where they left off in Year 1."