Jacob Nichols, Alpharetta
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “I would have to say ‘Buy-In’ across the board. From the school district and school’s administration, to the players, coaches and parents, all the way down to the feeder program and fans. The most successful teams that I have been a part of as a player or coach, or even some of the other most successful programs I have witnessed, all have a strong sense of pride in their team, their school and their community. While talent, coaching and facilities don’t hurt, there have been many great athletes and coaches to never win a championship.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I would have to mention two players, ironically from the same class. One would be Josh Dobbs, and anybody who has followed football in the Southeast over the last four years knows why. Not only was he a phenomenal player but also a leader among his peers and an incredible student, earning a 4.0 GPA in high school, and graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Business, while at the same time being selected to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Draft.
“The other would be Alex Behrend, a fellow classmate of Josh Dobbs. I had the pleasure of coaching Alex all four years of high school as an offensive tackle. He was always undersized for the position but never complained and always worked hard to be the best that he could be. Alex always put the team first, and his effort was unmatched. As a senior, Alex played both ways for us and ended up earning an opportunity to play defensive line at Davidson College, where he received a tremendous education and has already begun what I am sure will be a very successful career.”
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “As a player, and Parkview alum, the Parkview-Brookwood game will always be one that will stand out. During my youth, from the mid-’90s to the early 2000s, I was able to witness and be a part of some fantastic games.
“As a coach, I am big on tradition. Some of the most memorable experiences have been against established programs that have had long and continued success. The ones that stand out are North Cobb, Marietta and Gainesville. We made our first trip to Gainesville last season, and even though the weather delay had a bit of a negative impact on the overall experience, the facilities, the community stadium and the crowd support definitely made for an exciting environment.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “Has to be last year’s 20-13 first-round playoff loss to Alexander. Our defense played great and held one of the fastest and most athletic teams we had seen to a moderate offensive output. Our offense had a game plan that we believed in, and we executed it all over the field except for the red zone. By the end of the night we had two red-zone trips where we came away with no points, and to lose the game by just seven made it tough. The good news is that that game has served as a major motivating factor for our players throughout the offseason, and we are excited to get back to that type of opportunity again, hopefully with a different outcome.”
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