Bryan Gray, East Hall
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “Chemistry is No. 1. Talent is an obvious choice, but there have been a lot of talented teams that were not successful because they lacked the chemistry and desire to play for each other. Administration would be next. Support like I have been blessed with is rare because it allows a coach to truly develop a team in all areas, not just try to get quick success on the field to save your job. Coaching is important also, but at this point in Georgia, everyone has deep and knowledgeable staffs.”
2, Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “Kevin Thompson. He played offensive line for us from 2012-2015. Kevin was not very athletic, but he overachieved because everything he did was at full speed. Starting his freshman year, I started to notice kids not want to line up or be his partner in drills. Knowing that Kevin had a long way to go before he could ever play for us, I watched to find out why. Every drill, walk-through, practice rep, it didn’t matter if it was in T-shirt and shorts or in full gear, he would go as hard as he could and he was hurting other players or making them look bad. The most memorable moment was his freshman year and we are working through a play and his position coach was teaching an assignment for the center and he misspoke. Kevin, who played tackle for us, politely corrected the coach. It was at that time we learned that as a freshman Kevin knew the assignment for every position on the offensive line for every play, blitz pick up, etc. It was at this point when we knew we had a young man that embodied everything we were trying to achieve. He did end up starting for us his senior year, but his impact on the culture and work ethic of our players was far greater than his impact on the field.” [Thompson is now studying computer science at Georgia Tech.]
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “Elbert County in the Granite Bowl for homecoming. I didn’t care for the loss we took, but there is something about the place when it is jam packed.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “Our first victory in my first season against Gilmer County in the final week of the season. We were a very small team that wasn’t very talented, but the kids truly played for each other, and that night we managed to cause multiple fumbles and wound up winning the game. The joy on the players’ and coaches’ faces was worth every second of hard work for the season.” [East Hall won 29-17 to finish 1-9.]
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