Richard Morgan, Marietta
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “I wouldn’t say there’s just one. It’s a combination of things. But the first thing is the culture you create within the program. It’s what you’re going to accept, the standards that you uphold and how you want your program to be viewed. That withstands time and talent and sustains a program. It takes some work, trust me. It happened at my school in Virginia, and we’re starting to see the benefits of it here. That culture has started to grow.” [Morgan’s record was 164-20 with two state championships at Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake, Va. He took the Marietta job in 2016.]
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “Probably Perry Jones in Virginia. He was captain of the 2008 state championship team and was first-team all-state at running back and linebacker. He never came off the field. He just embodied everything you wanted in a player – character, grades, you name it. He was a three-year starter at Virginia and now is a coach in northern Virginia, still going on the same path.”
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “Probably the best was at Oakton in northern Virginia. We played the state semifinals there in 2008. It was just a tremendous crowd. It was on a Saturday afternoon, and the place was packed. We kicked a field goal with 40 seconds left to go to the state championship. It was the two best teams in the state going at it. Great game, great atmosphere.” [Oscar Smith defeated Oakton 10-7, then beat Osbourn 54-24 in the championship game.] “In Georgia, when I was an assistant at St. Pius [in the 1990s], we went to Marist and were basically playing for the region championship and lost 17-10. That place was swamped, and it was a rivalry game, but on top of that, it was for first place.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “Probably the state championship that we lost the year before I got here. We lost in triple overtime to Westfield in 2015 at UVA [Virginia’s Scott Stadium]. It was just an awful feeling, but it was a great game. You just wish you could have made one more play and scored a touchdown on fourth down and gone for two to win. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. That one will always stick with me.” [Westfield won 49-42.]
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