William Harrell, Hephzibah
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “First and foremost, you must have talented players. Everything else that you do is limited by the talent ceiling that your players genetically possess. After that, it is administration, followed by facilities/resources, and then coaching. I’ve seen teams win championships without community support and tradition; it can be created. Chemistry can be fostered by a great coaching staff, so it is a factor, but not above the others listed beforehand.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I had a QB while I was an assistant at Hephzibah from 2010-2013 that was the backup QB all four years of his career. Great kid, always came to practice and did whatever was asked. Lacked the talent to ever start, but never complained and was a leader with his work ethic and character. Ended up graduating with honors.” [The player’s name was Denzel Washington.]
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “Adams-Maffet Field in 2014. I was coaching as an assistant with Macon County High School vs. Lamar County on the last regular-season game with the region title on the line. They had a helicopter fly in the game ball in for pre-game. Running through the tunnel that leads out to the field, outlined by the marching band. Multiple lead changes, momentum swings, cannon booms, and a dominant performance by future UGA LB Roquan Smith. The best feeling was hearing the fans and marching band sing the signature song and throw confetti in the air as the game’s final seconds counted down.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “As a player, I would like to replay the game that put our team, Mays High School, out of the playoffs back in 2001. We were averaging 35 points per game and undefeated going into our biggest game vs. Marist, which we lost 17-14. With us still being down from the loss, we played our worst game of the season vs. Washington (Atlanta), losing 7-6. We missed the playoffs with an 8-2 record, while our hated rival Douglass (who we beat 28-0 earlier in non-region play) got in with a 4-6 record thanks to playing in a weak region. We ended up with four guys going D-I (Bryan McClendon with Georgia, Brandon Mitchell with Ohio State, Cory Dious with Northwestern, and Chris Woods, who transferred from a JC to Georgia Tech) and numerous others going to colleges all over the country.”
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