Winston Gordon, Hapeville Charter
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “I put the onus on the players. It makes your job a lot easier. We’ve been fortunate the last three, four years. You’ve seen the incline in our program. Every year now we’re a contender. The onus is on them. Everybody plays an important role, from the kids who get you ready on the scout team to the ones starting on Friday night.”
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “I would have to say Antoine Wilder, who’s down at the University of South Carolina. He’s probably the cornerstone of turning our program around even though he only played four games as a senior [in 2014] because of a torn meniscus. But he brought a lunch-pail mentality every week and did those intangible little things that kept the kids together. He’d do whatever you asked, whether it was play offense of defense. He was a phenomenal kid who was an inspiration to the kids that come from this part of Fulton County.” [Wilder had transferred to Hapeville Charter in 2013, sat out a year, then underwent knee surgery in 2014 in October. At South Carolina, he won the team’s community service award in 2016.]
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “The best atmosphere you can play in is probably in south Georgia. They live and breathe and eat football. Fitzgerald [for the 2016 semifinals] was probably one of the most amazing football atmospheres I’ve seen on a Friday night. At Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County, that’s all they have to do on a Friday night.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “We did that this year. We wanted to play Fitzgerald again and we got them. We lost to them in the semifinals and played them in the first game this season and won. I would have loved to have played GAC again [last year after losing five straight to Greater Atlanta Christian in the same region.] Another is Lovett because of their great coaching. They have the things you aspire for your program to be.”
Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.