Four Questions with Colquitt County head coach Rush Propst

Colquitt County head coach Rush Propst (right) shakes the hand of McEachern head coach Kyle Hockman after their game at the Corky Kell Classic Saturday, August 18, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Colquitt County won, 41-7.
Colquitt County head coach Rush Propst (right) shakes the hand of McEachern head coach Kyle Hockman after their game at the Corky Kell Classic Saturday, August 18, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Colquitt County won, 41-7.

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

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 Colquitt County head coach Rush Propst, whose No. 1-ranked team plays at No. 3 Grayson on Friday in a game televised by Georgia Public Broadcasting. Both teams are in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings. They've played four times this decade, with each winning twice.

Rush Propst, Colquitt County head coach 

1. Your team has played five consecutive state-ranked teams and beaten them by an average of 44-10. Just how good might this team be? "It's still too early. I've always broken our season into four quarters. We're just halfway into the second quarter. I'm not sure there's anything you can salt away and say we're good at or bad at yet. In every category, there's room for improvement. The biggest concern I have is our consistency. We play really well at times, and other times, we just play ho-hum. It's like we're not inspired. Any championship team has to get past that and the scoreboard and worry about the play in front of them, then move on to the next play. Until we have that attitude, we'll continue to be up and down. We're a talented ball club. I've heard people say it's the most talented we've had here, and others say it's the '15 team. That argument will go back and forth. Do I think we have some good qualities? Yes, but there are still too many penalties and mental mistakes, and we're still breaking in a new quarterback. It's still a team looking to establish an identity."

2. The AJC did a poll a couple of weeks ago that asked fans to vote for teams in Class AAAAAAA that they love to hate. Grayson and Colquitt County came out on top. How do you feel about that? "I think I've lived that most of my career. It was that way at Hoover, obviously, when we became the team that everybody hates. If that's where we are, that's a good thing. It means you're winning. We're just trying to stay there. When you're on top, you have to fight complacency. You have to fight to keep that passion and energy level with the fan base, the student body, the community, the county, the administration. It's always harder to stay on top than get to the top, and it's hard to get to the top. But as far as the poll, you have to take it with a grain of salt. If anything, it's a compliment. It means that we're doing what we need to do, and that's win football games and championships."

3. Are there teams that you love to hate, or at least love to beat? Maybe North Gwinnett after last season's tough loss in the state finals? "There's always teams on your schedule that get you going as coach. You want to beat them, but not because you don't like them. You respect them. Grayson is one of those teams that I respect because of their winning ways. There are a lot of people who want to hate Grayson because of the transfers [notably the 2016 state-championship team that had a handful of high-profile transfers]. That doesn't bother me. That's a parent's choice. If it's done right, I have no problem with that. It's the society we live in. Most people that gripe are the people that aren't winning. The teams that get me going and fired up are those that have great programs, and there are several in Atlanta that have that tradition - North Gwinnett, McEachern, Parkview, Brookwod. I can keep naming and naming. And obviously we have our local rivals here. I'd rather play a tough schedule. Your fan base deserves it.

"Now the North Gwinnett game, if that's not the toughest loss I've ever had in 30 years of being a head coach, it's in the top two. It was difficult to lose a game we thought we had in our back pocket. [North Gwinnett drove 59 yards - 35 of them on Colquitt penalties - in the final 49 seconds to win 19-17 on a 32-yard field goal.] It's been a driving force this year. I wouldn't say it's had a major effect, but it did give us a high sense of urgency and alertness during spring practice and summer workouts. That's the one good thing about losing in the fashion we lost."

4. How do you and Grayson match up this season? "I think we're similar. We don't have a five-star player. Well, I'll take that back. I think our kicker is. I think Ryan Fitzgerald is the best in the country. [Fitzgerald has made five field goals of 50 yards or longer this season]. But Grayson has several five-stars and several four-stars. Talent-wise, they're probably deeper, but we've got good players, too. We've got 15 or 16 that will sign at some level, some in the SEC, some at Division II. So, we're not going to back down from anybody, and I'm sure they're not. It's as good a regular-season matchup that's been played in 7A for a long time. Winning isn't going to guarantee you're going to win a state championship, and losing doesn't affect that either. It's going to show both teams where they are in week six of the season. You've got to put yourself in the arena to play in the arena, and if you've never been in the arena, you don't know how to play in it. You don't want the first big game you play this year to be in the quarterfinals. That's why I like this matchup."

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