Erik Soliday, Americus-Sumter
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “Administrative support is as important as anything in winning today. Being able to get the resources you need, staff in place, kids in weight training, all are dependent on your administration. If they place an importance on extra-curriculars, then your kids will as well, and it becomes a school and community program. We all know you need great players to have great teams, but being able to get your kids in the weight room makes some pretty good players, as well. Being able to get good coaches in makes players better, as well. I have been on both ends over the years and I can tell you first hand it makes a major difference in your program when you have administrative support from your school.” [Americus-Sumter this season won its first region championship since the merger of Americus and Sumter County high schools in 2004.]
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I have had the pleasure of coaching a lot of great players over the years, many who are coaching now, some coaching with me, but one who stands out is one of my own sons, Luke. He was such a competitor and hated to lose. We were not blessed with a lot of talent during that time, but he competed so hard every day and every play, with so much heart, that it inspired everyone around him and made us competitive. He was probably the toughest football player I have ever been around.” [Luke Soliday, a quarterback, was his region’s offensive player of the year while at Turner County in 2012.]
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “The best atmosphere I have experienced has to be Lincoln County when Coach [Larry] Campbell was there and they were on top. It doesn’t matter what size school or class, the atmosphere at that time was incredible. Packed house, loud, smoke rolling out, them coming out from under the bleachers to music like Ric Flair. It was a site to see and worse to play in.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “There are a lot of games as a coach you remember, mostly losses because of how long you spend on them trying to see what you could have done differently to change the outcome. But to play again would be the 2000 state championship game. [Americus defeated Washington-Wilkes 14-0 for the Class AA title.] That season was a lot of fun and that game was so enjoyable that I would love to experience it again. The championship in 2001 was more of a relief that we won because we expected to win it, as opposed to the first one, which was just fun every week. I might like to replay my first game as a head coach. It was so long ago that it might jog my memory of those days back then as I really don’t remember a lot about them.”
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