J.B. Arnold, Jefferson County
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “It used to be hard work that made the difference, but now I think it depends on what kind of school you are. Private schools have to attract great students as well as great athletes. Counties where there are more than two or three schools or have a city system within it are going to have to constantly compete for great athletes. Rural schools (i.e., one-school counties) have to have a great group come through. It’s obvious wherever you go you have to have great community, administrative and parental support, but the bottom line is we all have to have great athletes. The need for great athletes has completely changed the culture for all high school sports. It’s getting to be like colleges. Whoever recruits best or is more attractive will have great teams, and this happens through either selective enrollment, personal trainers, money to attend certain schools, or whoever can get you the best scholarship. I know it’s the elephant in the room, but it’s really the truth.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I have had a number of great players come through Jefferson County, but the ones that stick out to me are the ones that are the most unselfish. In the day and age of ‘It’s only about me,’ I would say the player that has made the biggest impact for giving back to the place in which they have come from is Fernando Velasco. Fernando has never forgotten Jefferson County. He has constantly given back to his community with not just money but with time and mentoring. He is the greatest ambassador Jefferson County has ever had. There are those players, however, that you never forget for what they were able to accomplish: B.J. Bostic, George Lane, A.J. Harmon, T.J. Bell, and the list goes on.”
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “In 28 years of coaching mainly at the A, AA, AAA levels, I have experienced a lot of electric atmospheres at high school games. I would suggest the following: Play at Calhoun, Buford, Rabun County or Dublin in the playoffs. Play at Vidalia, Fitzgerald, Thomson, Burke County, Swainsboro, Screven County, Washington County or Lincoln County during the regular season. For the hospitality, play a game at Wesleyan or Toombs County. Really any time you can play in the quarterfinals, semifinals or the finals, it will be a great atmosphere.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “The only game I wish I could play over is a game that is the most embarrassing of my career. Not because it was a loss but because it was a game in which I was ejected. I totally lost control. No matter the circumstances (and it wasn’t good) in which my anger came from, I should have realized that I was being watched by my players and fans. As a coach, whether you are provoked or not, you have to carry yourself in a professional manner. In the end, it cost us a region title because we lost the next game also. I am constantly preaching to our players that they must learn to respond (think first) to adversity, not react (lash out).”
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