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PREP WRESTLING: For Social Circle wrestling it's 'state champs or bust' as the 'Skins chase fourth straight crown
Social Circle defending individual champion Douglas Peppers, right, has his hand raised in victory after a Friday match in Buford. - photo by Tyler Williams

BUFORD, Ga. — For Social Circle’s head wrestling coach, Randy Prater, adversity and success go hand-in-hand. Just ask him about one of his primary goals for every season.

“Our goal is for no kid to have a perfect record by the end of the season by the time we get to state,” he said. “We want every kid to get beat. That may sound crazy to a lot of people, but we want to see how they can respond after a loss.” 

This unorthodox goal is part of the reason why the Redskins are three-time defending state champions in the 2A classification, and why they compete in competition-filled tournaments around the state like this weekend at Buford High and places like Kingsport, Tenn. 

However, Prater believes those three consecutive state crowns are just a memory, and that the overall team goal for this year remains the same. 

“We definitely want to continue winning state titles, and that’s what we work for every day,” he said. “Those first three can’t be taken from us, but we want to win number four. History is history and the past is the past, so we’re focused on this year and this year alone.” 

That focus and determination has trickled down to his athletes, many of whom are competing for individual state titles in addition to team championships. 

Prater noted that returning state champs such as Micah Thompson and Douglas Peppers are looking to repeat, as well as several runners up whom are eyeing that first state title. 

Peppers, who is a senior, found his way to Social Circle in his junior year. Although he’s already claimed one  top finish at state, he knows how important it is to have another one added to his already impressive resume. 

“It’s state champ or bust,” Peppers said. And as simple as the goal sounds, he knows very well how hard he and his other teammates have to work to each accomplish their own goals, as well as their overall team goal. 

“We work harder than any other team in the state and have one of the best coaching staffs in the state too,” Peppers said proudly. 

Aside from the work they put in at various tournaments both during the season and in the offseason, Prater stated there’s another huge element to their preparation for the season that he believes is one of the most important.

“It starts in the weight room,” he said. “I will be honest when I say I feel like that is one thing that we have lacked this year. We didn’t put work in the weight room like we have in years past, but we’re gonna get that fixed. Everybody on our team’s first sport has to be the weight room.” 

But strength is only half of it. The other half is technique, which is the variety of skillsets the Redskins continuously work to improve upon. 

On top of all the work the Social Circle grapplers put in with the Redskins in the offseason, many of them also compete with Social Circle’s USA Wrestling squad that features elementary school kids all the way through high school. 

“We have a great USA coach in Robert Cline,” Prater said. “He works really well with the kids during the offseason. We also have a good middle school program that has suffered the last couple of years, but bringing coach (William) Wells over from Alcovy has definitely helped our numbers go back up.” 

With their work cut out for them year round, the Redskins definitely possess a majority of the traits that build a successful program, and are in prime position to take home another state title if the pieces are put together. 

According to Prater, they are only satisfied with being better than great. So after the Buford meet, regardless of the results, it’s back to work the Redskins will go as the young season continues. 

“You have to continue to keep working,” he said. “Complacency is a terrible thing. You get satisfied, which is a good feeling, but we tell the athletes you can be satisfied with winning a state title and you can enjoy it for a day. After that, it’s time to get back to work.”