Rich McWhorter, Charlton County
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “The first thing everyone will agree on is talent. I’ve been fortunate here to have some good football players and good assistant coaches, too. And our community is going to support a good program. Everyone is going to agree about administrative support. You’ve got to have it, period. So talent, assistant coaches, community support, administrative support, all those things. Then you throw in the good chemistry that comes with the right kinds of kids that really love the game, and that takes it over the top.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “One of my favorite players was Joe Hagins. He’s a kid that I named my youngest daughter [Hagin] after. Joe was built for football, and football was built for him. But he had all sorts of things going against him. His dad was killed when he was young, and he grew up in a tough situation with his family. Being around him, you’d never know he had challenges and struggles that kids his age shouldn’t be going through. He could’ve made excuses but didn’t have any of that in him. He was always smiling. He was the first four-year starter that I ever had. Then he went to Purdue and he was a four-year starter there. He got his degree and went to the CFL. He started a few years, and now he’s a high school coach in Canada. He ruined it for a lot of kids, this idea that you’re a victim of your environment. A kid like Joe Hagins showed that none of that has to be an obstacle. It can be something that motivates you to go the other way.”
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “That would have to be at Buford, of course, beating Buford at Buford in the state playoffs and for a state championship. Standing on that visitors’ sideline, looking into that green mass of humanity and watching the clocking running down, that’s a pretty good atmosphere for a visiting team.” [Charlton County won at Buford in playoff games in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The 2004 win was for the Class AA championship.]
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “As a coach, the game that sticks in my mind would be the 1992 Bowdon game [in the Class A semifinals]. It’s 1:04 to go, and we took the lead. We hadn’t led the whole night. It was a real struggle the whole game just to stay in striking distance, and then for us to take the lead, and they took it right back from us [and won 32-27]. Coach [Dwight] Hochstetler was the head coach there then. That was my first senior class, and I really wanted it for them. You say you love them all the same, but that 1992-93 class, I had them since they were freshmen. That was the first four-year group that bought into the whole program. I really wanted it for them.”
Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.