Four Questions with Cedar Grove coach Jermaine Smith

jermaine smith

Cedar Grove’s head coach Jermaine Smith signals his players. (Phil Skinner/Special to AJC)

GHSF Daily asked Georgia head coaches to answer these four questions. We’ll report from a different head coach each day.

Jermaine Smith, Cedar Grove

1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “Talent is important, but it is important for coaches to understand that student-athletes can be talented in many ways, and you must put them in a situation where their talent can show. Tradition to me is something that is overrated. It could help depending on if you have been traditionally a good team or traditionally a bad team, but it’s more about how the community and former athletes feel and if they are willing to come back and help continue or create a tradition or habit of doing what is right for the program. Facilities and resources are very important because they give you an opportunity to spend more time coaching and less time trying to deal with things like fundraising, weight room, academic problems, lining fields, etc. I could go on and on, but I never had a chance to have those great facilities and/or resources yet, so I will see how important they are one day. Coaching is very important, but I don’t just equate coaching with X’s and O’s. Coaching for me at Cedar Grove is finding a way to get the guys to buy in, despite all the other things that we do not have like facilities, resources, strong community/alumni support, etc. Letting them know that despite any situation at home, or what anyone tells them, they can and will be successful.”

2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I’ve had so many kids that inspired me because I saw them fight through situations that as a child they shouldn’t have had to deal with. One special situation was during my first year as head coach. The transition was not a smooth one, and the kids were kind of put in a bad situation by other adults. I had three kids – Chandler Ector, Bryson Allen Williams and Deion Sellers – who took over and told their teammates that it wasn’t their place as kids to try and figure out what’s going on with the adults. They decided to do what’s right, and that began the process of building this program.”

3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “As a coach, I would have to say Calhoun, and I have experienced it twice. The second time I made sure my kids didn’t get the entire pregame experience. As a spectator, it would have to be the Soul Bowl, Miami Northwestern versus Miami Jackson. I only attended the game once, but it was unreal back then.”

4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “Probably my last high school game. We lost the state championship to Berkeley. [Smith played at Darlington High in South Carolina. Berkeley is in Moncks Corner.] I would want the game back, but that weekend was the worst. One of my best friends was killed the night before, and we had to get up and take the SAT the morning of the game. If I could, I would change that entire weekend.”

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