Jarrett Laws, Salem
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “I’ve had the fortune of working in several different environments throughout my career, and I’ve found that the first indicator of success starts with administration. In my opinion, coaches that are fortunate enough to have a shared vision with their administrators often feel comfortable enough to step outside the box and try different techniques when building their program. Supportive administration breeds creativity when addressing other areas such as on-field talent evaluation, academic development and connecting with the surrounding community. I’m blessed to have more than enough support at Salem from my principal, Tonya Bloodworth, and her administrative team.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I’ve had so many players that have inspired me throughout my career, and it would be totally unfair to cite a single one. But I would say that when you see and hear your values system organically come out of one of your players, it’s inspiring in itself. I’ve told my kids throughout the years, ‘God before all, team before me, books before ball, do right and compete!’ When I see them live out these principles, especially when their playing career is long past them, they become an inspiration not only to me, but to others around me. I think one of my greatest joys is that if you took two young men that played for me in different time periods, they can recite our ‘Four Steps’ in equal fluency, and that means more to me than any scoreboard result.”
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “South and central Georgia have some of the best Friday night atmospheres in the nation, but I’ve never seen a more unique expression of community pride and pageantry than Lakeland High School in Florida. The fans line the streets around Bryant Stadium to form a weekly parade-like entrance for their team. The team buses are escorted through the town by multiple emergency vehicles and makeshift floats. Inside the stadium, the team is greeted by multiple cannon shots, an old warship bell and a corridor of lights, streamers, balloons and JROTC gun salutes which they call the ‘Runway to Victory.’ Even their mascot name, the Dreadnaughts, evokes fear in opponents. We used to say that the atmosphere itself puts the first seven points on the board, one way or another!”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “Over the years, I’ve learned to accept wins and losses with equal respect to that specific moment in time. Often, though, my teams have been underdogs in big games, and I would say that it is the inspiration of those teams growing into a family on a Friday night, and fighting for respect when no one gave them a chance, that continue to inspire me to re-create new similar moments for my current and future players. It’s that unique feeling in those moments that continues to push me under that maniacal center stage we call ‘Friday Night Lights.'”
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