|Stephenson High Jaguars keep NFL powerhouse record going|
|Written by Joshua Smith|
STONE MOUNTAIN—The Stephenson High School Jaguars have one more reason to be proud. Kelvin Sheppard is the most recent Jaguar to be drafted by the NFL.
Sheppard and two other Jaguars from the Class of 2005—Jermaine Cunningham and Perry Riley—got together recently to watch the NFL draft during a barbecue at the Sheppard family’s home.
Tamra Sheppard, executive Metro Pre-School Director of the YMCA, beamed with pride over her son’s induction into the NFL.“It was very exciting to have our family and friends come together for the celebration, and it was especially nice to have Jermaine and Perry come because they too made the NFL and were all in the same graduating class at Stephenson,” said Tamra Sheppard.
Stephenson’s head coach, Ron Gartrell, doesn’t know what to make of three teammates from the same graduating class making the NFL, but he says he is proud of Stephenson’s track record.
Stephenson has birthed eight Jaguars who have gone on to play on the professional level. Besides the NFL, the Canadian Football League has also picked up some Jags, including Canadian Football League Champion, Sean Lucas.
“I’ve been coaching here since the school’s first game in 1996. It really touches me to see our guys go to the NFL and any professional league because they are making a career off a game they love,” Gartrell said. “But it’s not all about the NFL. You have to appreciate this game and other sports that basically give you a free education into whatever field you are interested in when you get off the football field.”
Sheppard was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the third round as the 68th pick in this year’s draft. While a Jaguar, Sheppard recorded 102 tackles and 10 sacks.
A December graduate of Louisiana State University, Sheppard finished his college career with 311 tackles, ninth in school history and was named All-Southeastern Conference in 2010.
Fellow teammates Cunningham and Riley were drafted last year to the NFL. Riley, who played linebacker with Sheppard at LSU, was selected by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, the 103rd pick overall. Cunningham, who attended University of Florida, was picked by the New England Patriots in the second round (53rd overall) in the 2010 NFL draft.
The three, plus Marcus Ball, were part of a highly talented defensive squad at Stephenson.
As a Jaguar senior, Riley recorded 131 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, five tackles for loss and one defensive touchdown.
At Stephenson, Cunningham averaged 15 tackles per game, and recorded 25 sacks as a team captain in his senior year.
“They were all great guys and played with respect for our staff. We didn’t just teach them wins and loses, but skills of leadership, communication and responsibility,” Gartrell said. “We want to build the best men we possibly can on and off the field, that goes for all of our players.”