Charley Waters, Jenkins County
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “Having a commitment from your administration, first off, then a commitment from your community, and probably most importantly a commitment from your players and coaching staff. Of course, you have to have good players. They can take you to another level. But if kids are committed to working hard – especially here at a place that has not had great tradition – you’ll win games you’re supposed to win, and then when you have talent, you have the basis to win a playoff game and to go further.” [Jenkins County defeated Miller County 30-14 last week for its first playoff victory since 1960.]
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “Joshua Lake. I was an assistant football coach here at the time and the head track coach. He was the captain on the track team, and we won the state championship in 2003 and were runner-up in 2004. He played football, ran track, did everything. He won the 400 meters two years in a row [at the Class A track-and-field meet]. He won the triple jump. He was on the [state-winning] 4×400 and 4×100 relay teams. He was a high-character individual and the leader of our team and was very successful in all of his endeavors. He went to Valdosta State on an academic scholarship, and he’s doing very well today. [Lake was the high-point scorer at the 2004 Class A meet but chose the academic scholarship over track-and-field opportunities as Valdosta State did not have a track team.]
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “We haven’t had any luck there, so I’m shocked I’m saying this, but ECI has a great atmosphere. If you’re the opposing team, you don’t like anything about it. But if I’m over there just watching a game, it’s a fun atmosphere. The announcer is constantly saying, ‘Give that dog a bone!’ after a touchdown. The place is jumping pretty good. As far as going over there as an opposing team, it’s awful. They give us the devil, that’s for sure.” [Jenkins County travels to ECI on Friday for a second-round playoff game.]
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “Hawkinsville, 2014, in the first round of the state playoffs. I thought we played well enough to win in that one, but we came out on the losing end. We were leading 14-12 with about six minutes to go. It was our first year in the playoffs since 1987.” [Hawkinsville won 20-14 and went on to claim the Class A championship. It was Waters’ first season as head coach. He was a player on the 1987 team that had previously made the playoffs.]
Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.