Today's interviewee is Douglass coach Rodney Cofield, whose team defeated Region 4-AA champion Jefferson County 12-8 last week to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1995. The victory also was Douglass's first road playoff win since 1975. Cofield, who had built a winner at another Atlanta Public School, Washington, from 1995 to 2007, was hired at Douglass in 2012, when the Astros were on a 23-game losing streak. In each of Cofield's eight seasons, Douglass has matched or bettered its previous season's win total. Douglass is now 11-1.
Rodney Cofield, Douglass head coach
1. What was the significance of that win for Douglass? "It means you don't have to get back on the bus upset and sleepy on the ride home. They left everything on the field. It was not only a great win but a good feeling when all the obstacles are against you and you go on the road in a hostile environment and play a dynamic, super program like Jefferson County and come out with a win. Our kids fought for four quarters until the last second on the clock and got over that hurdle. Our kids have worked tremendously hard all season and offseason. It's evidence that hard work pays off."
2. What happened in the game that won it for you? "Defense. The defense played lights out. The offense has been averaging 30-something all year and scored at will, but the defense Friday had that we're-not-losing mentality. The game ball goes to the entire defense. They stuck their head in it and grinded it out. Jefferson County was 8-6 [ahead] in the fourth quarter. We got a turnover and drove the ball to the 1. We had a fourth down and gave it to Quintavious Lockett, and he made one of those NFL-longest-yard runs. He bounced off them. They hit him again, and he used his God-given ability and got across the line. They got the ball, and the defense came through and got a turnover. We got a first down, and the rest is history. We're celebrating now."
3. What should people know about your team? What would you tell a fan coming to watch? "Of course, offensively, you're going to come watch Quintavious Lockett. He's 6-1, 235-240 pounds with over 1,800 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns. He's the part of the engine that makes our offense move. Carlos Allen is the senior leader off the offensive line at left tackle. We've got two good running quarterbacks [Quandarius Sterling and DeAndre Watson]. Defensively, it's a collection of people. Isaiah Washington along with Carlos Allen, Keyon Coley, Rodney Davie, Kevon Godard. Those are seasoned kids. They are seniors. They're the ones saying, 'We've got to make an impact this year.' They're the ones pulling those young kids in. We're not the most 5-star, 4-star team. We've just got kids that want to put the work in and get something out of it."
4. When you were hired, Douglass had lost 23 straight games. What was the main thing that you and your staff did to get the program where it is today? What's the advice you'd give to coaches rebuilding a program that's down? "Don't deviate from your expectations. Whether you're 0-10 or 10-0, my expectations aren't going to change. You're going to be at practice on time, and you're going to work every day, and you're going to show up every Friday night and play hard. And there are certain things you're not going to do. You're not going to use profanity, and you're not going to be late. If I've got 21 players and two or three don't abide by the rules, they're off the team. Those first three or four years, whew, you talk about staying the course. Hey, it was difficult. We had to have a lot of patience, but we stood there. My rules haven't changed in my 20 years no matter what the record is. You have to keep a certain standard. My standard is discipline. We're preparing the kids for life. I've told my parents, 'You give us your boy, and we'll give you back a man.' We stand by that."
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