GHSF Daily's Four Questions feature historically poses the same questions to a different Georgia head coach each issue. This season, head coaches are being asked Four Questions tailored to current events. Today's interviewee is Cedar Grove head coach Jermaine Smith, whose team defeated Hewitt-Trussville 34-30 in Hoover, Ala., in a game televised by ESPN. Hewitt-Trussville was a semifinalist last season in Alabama's highest classification, 7A.
Jermaine Smith, Cedar Grove head coach
1. How and why did Cedar Grove seek out this game - in another state against an Alabama state power on national TV? "It began because we were having a difficult time finding opponents. Then I realized that I could finally schedule who I wanted, so I used this opportunity to play teams out of state. I felt like it was an excellent opportunity for my guys to get better, get exposure and for me to see how my guys would respond."
2. You've won a state title, so this can't be your biggest win, but it had to rank up there. What was special about this victory, and how was it won? "It was a big win, but I think it was a bigger win for the fans and the community, etc. It also gave us a chance to show that although we are 3A school, our guys play very hard and are well-coached. The best thing about the victory was how we kept competing in all three phases of the game. We spend a lot of time on all three phases and we emphasize special teams, so that was good to see." [Cedar Grove's special teams were outstanding. The Saints blocked an extra point, a field goal and a punt. The punt block set up the final scoring drive. Cedar Grove punter Luis Dominquez averaged 40.8 yards on four punts, three that pinned Hewitt-Trussville inside the 20-yard line. Jadon Haselwood had two kickoff returns for 84 yards.]
3. You've averaged 11.5 wins the past four seasons and graduated some high-profile recruits. How does this team compare in terms of raw talent and potential? "This team is very similar to last year's team, but I think we all learned from last year, so hopefully we can continue to improve."
4. Cedar Grove had reached the quarterfinals one time in the 20 years before you became head coach. What changes have you made that you feel have turned Cedar Grove into a program that has reached the semifinals in each of the last three seasons? "I learned a lot from Coach Bonner. [Ray Bonner was Cedar Grove's coach from 2003 to 2012.] I would just sit and listen to him talk to other coaches. He would tell me what he wished he could do differently. Every day I would go home and write down all the things I would do the same and all the things I would try to improve. One of the biggest things was just letting them know my 'Expectations and Consequences' - giving coaches and players expectations and giving consequences or rewards according to how and if they met the expectations. People often need to be told what they are able to achieve and what you want them to do. You can't give them an easy way out because there's only a few people who won't take the easy way out, and I'm not just talking about kids. We do many things differently, but one thing that has held true is the sense of family. We are not always happy, but our ultimate goal is to teach and discipline our kids so they can be successful in life. If that is not your goal, then maybe you need to be somewhere that I'm not."
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