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Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Four Questions with Eagle’s Landing Christian coach Jonathan Gess

GHSF Daily asked each of Georgia's eight 2017 state-winning head coaches to answer these four questions. We'll report from a different head coach each day.

Jonathan Gess, Class A private-school champion Eagle's Landing Christian 

1. With a full offseason to reflect, what is the most memorable or special thing that you take from your championship season?"Going up to Knoxville Catholic and beating the Tennessee state AAAAA champions will forever be one of our most fun and most memorable moments. As a coaching staff, we didn't know if we could win or not. After the game, we went to a local pizza place and I bet we had 300 players, cheerleaders and fans in there celebrating. Just an awesome experience." 

2. What did winning this championship teach you about what it takes to win a championship that you didn't already know? "That winning championships and having great teams are never going to satisfy. We won our fourth state championship and won 36 games in a row, but we wake up the next day thinking about the next one. I was as restless this offseason as I have ever been. I'm learning that there is never enough success to be had in this game. Winning and success are horrible idols. It's a battle, but to enjoy your family, the process, the players, the parents, the relationships with other coaches, that is what ultimately fulfills." 

3. The 2017 finals had some controversies. One was the weather postponement of several games out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The other was a call in the Peach County-Calhoun game that sparked a debate about the use of instant replay. How would you critique the GHSA's handling of those situations? "That's such a tough question. At the end of the day, I could see instant replay being used in state championship games for certain situations. If the film is inconclusive, then the call remains with the on-the-field call. They could just watch the jumbotron if they wanted to. Why wouldn't we allow that? I think one thing referees need to be able to do is admit they don't have a clue sometimes. Did you really see holding, or did you think you saw holding? Are you sure the guy didn't catch the ball, or you think he didn't catch the ball? You either know that you know, or you don't make the call. Then they could defer to one of their other referees for verification. What he should have done is say, 'I don't know; I didn't see it.' Then he should have peeked up at the big jumbotron. I don't know. We all screw up in life. For every bad call a referee makes, I make a bad play call. All of it is what makes football such a great game." 

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4. What's the outlook for your team this season? What are your chances of repeating? "We have some really good players coming back, but we certainly graduated some great players. There are a lot of great coaches and teams in Single A private, and I know they have worked their tails off in the offseason. I know of some great players out there in Single A private. If we are to repeat, it will not be easy. All we can do is work to be the best we can be each day and see what happens. If we can win each practice, we have a chance." 

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