Jonathan Gess, ELCA
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “I think that there is no doubt you have to have talent. This is why I think development of kids physically in the weight room year-round is critical to winning high school football. I think administrative support is equally as important. If you can develop talent and your administration supports what you are doing, then the chemistry, coaching, community, facilities and resources will follow. But if you have great coaching without talent, you still won’t win a lot. If you have facilities and no talent, you won’t win.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “In 2013, we had a great football team that went 11-1 and lost in overtime of the state semifinals. The center of that football team was a young man named Gib Pounds. Gib is legally blind. No one could ever tell him he could not do things. He started for us and played at a high level.”
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “The best atmosphere for us has been Lincoln County in the 2008 and 2009 playoffs and then Clinch County in the 2010 playoffs. There is something about those small-town public schools in the playoffs, and the atmosphere is special.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “The 2010 quarterfinals vs. Clinch County. We played there and they were 12-0 and we were 12-0. They beat us late in the game. That ELCA team was probably one of the most talented teams we ever had. I wish I could go back and coach that team knowing what I do now. But, the great outcome of that game is I became great friends with coach Jim Dickerson and the people at Clinch County. It was a game I believe God specifically had us play for the relationships that were built. We continue to this day to have a phenomenal relationship with the people in Clinch County. I learned a lot playing them and losing to them!”
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