Terry Herrod, Riverdale
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “I think it all starts with the commitment of the community. When the community elects a BOE that makes investing in athletics a priority, that signals to superintendents and principals that they have to hire the best coaches. Parents want the best for their kids. When a community signals that athletics is a priority, everything else falls into place. Parents make sure that their children attend school in those communities. When you combine commitment of the community, good coaching and talented players, that is a winning combination because everything else will come together.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I would have to say Johnathan Lay, class of 2015 Riverdale High School. Johnathan was the salutatorian of his class, team MVP and first-team all-region and is currently in his third year at the Unites States Military Academy. He was selected as a cadet captain this summer at West Point. Tremendous high-character young man who is the hardest-working player I ever coached. In 2014, we played a regular-season game down in Thomasville versus Thomas County Central. We got home at around 4 that morning after a four-hour bus ride. He had an ACT/SAT prep class the next morning at 8. His teacher told him he could come after school the next week for the session.He did not want to miss practice, so he went home, slept for three hours, ate breakfast and returned to the school on time at 8 for the session. He did this after playing both OT and DT an entire game against a physical TCC team where he had to block Antonio Bryant [now at Clemson] and defend TCC’s veer rushing attack in brutal South Georgia playing conditions, endure a four-hour trip on a school bus and have only three hours of sleep. This type of dedication and character is why Johnathan Lay will be a great officer in the United States Army when he graduates from the Academy in 2019.”
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “Grisham Stadium, Carrollton. Best facility in the state of Georgia! Student section is incredible.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “2014 versus Jonesboro. We had the ball on the 3-yard line with 15 seconds to go and a timeout. One of my players suggested that we kick the field goal. He said to me, ‘Coach, he made them all in warmups from this distance.’ My first mind was to go for it, but for some reason I trusted the player’s recommendation and kicked the field goal. I regret placing that type of pressure on the kicker because he had only been kicking since August and was new to football. I normally trust my first mind, which was to run a sprint-out giving the QB a run-pass option. I think about this game so often. When he kicked the ball, it never made it to the goal post. He was just too nervous. We lost 15-13. I never blamed the player. It was my fault because I knew not to put him in that position, and I did it anyway. I felt so bad for the player. We missed the playoffs as a result of that loss.”
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