Kevin Reach, Monroe Area
1. What is the real difference-maker in winning and losing in Georgia high school football? “The kids have got to buy into what you’re doing – the weight room, the classroom, the offense and defense you’re bringing in, your philosophy and expectations. I’ve learned that kids want to be successful, but at the same time, they’ve got to know you care about them and have their back. If you work hard for them, they’ll work hard for you. That’s been a key thing this year for us.” [Under Reach, in his first season, Monroe Area was the most improved Class AAA team in 2017, according to the Maxwell Ratings. The 10 wins were the most since 2013 for the Purple Hurricanes, who had won only seven games total the previous three seasons.]
2. Which player that you’ve coached is memorable mostly for his character or inspiration? “The one that comes to mind is Taylor Heinicke. I know he’s probably the best one I’ve coached. He was undersized, and not a lot of people gave him enough credit. He was just a great competitor in everything he did on the field and in the classroom. He was a likeable kid. All of his teammates loved to be around him. He wasn’t very vocal. It was just how he carried himself. He was the epitome of what you’re looking for as a coach. He’s still battling to this day.” [Heinicke played for Reach at Collins Hill and passed for 4,218 yards a senior, which was second all-time in Georgia at the time. He threw for nearly 15,000 yards at Old Dominion and is now an NFL free agent.]
3. What is the best atmosphere for a high school game that you’ve experienced away from home? “At Lowndes, the Concrete Palace. We played there in 2010, and that was a great atmosphere with the fan base and student body and whole town coming together. I’ll say this, too – Calhoun this past season, with all that tradition they have at the AAA level, I thought that was a great atmosphere. Both of them are hard places to win.”
4. As a player or coach at any level, which game do you wish you could play again? “The one I’d want back is the McEachern game in 2013. We ended up going ahead with about two minutes left. We had the ball close to midfield with about 1:30 left and needed to get a first down to win. We were forced to punt, and our punter had a great punt, but they had a kid who went to Oregon. I’m drawing a blank on his name. He picked it up and ran it back. I felt like we could’ve played for the state title that year.” [McEachern won 35-32. You can see Taj Griffin’s dazzling 85-yard punt return here.]
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