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Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Four Questions with Heard County head coach Tim Barron

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 Heard County head coach Tim Barron, whose team is in the state finals for the first time in history. Barron is 141-59 with seven region titles in his 17 seasons at the west Georgia school in Franklin.

Tim Barron, Heard County head coach 

1. This is the first state final in school history. What has that accomplishment been like for the players and staff, and what's been the response of the community? "This has been such a year of highs and lows from where we started to where we are now. I'm so proud of our kids because at one point we were 1-2 and scratching our heads. For them to work to get better like they did, I'm awfully proud of them. As far as the fans, we're a small community with one red light and a Piggly Wiggly. We've always been a close-knit community whether we win or lose. We've probably heard from a few more fans lately, but most of them have been loyal when we're bad and loyal when we're good. We preach family here, and this community really is." 

2. This season, you were ranked No. 2 in preseason, then got blown away in consecutive games to Hapeville Charter and Rockmart. Not sure a team has ever reached the championship game after losing two 30-point games to teams in their own classification. What happened in those games, and what has changed? "We did return a lot of talent [from a team that lost 28-21 to eventual champion Hapeville last year]. Our kids thought we were just going to pick up where we left off and that hard work didn't come before it. When you lose two early like we lost, the coaches go back and look at everything. You're turning over every rock to see what's wrong and what's right. Had we not played that tough schedule, we might've won and those issues would've still existed and not been addressed. We had to make personnel changes. We sat down with every kid and talked with them on an individual basis. How we prepare had to change. It doesn't start on Friday. The kids had to understand and buy into that. When we walked off the field against Rockmart, there was nothing more humbling than to play a half and then tuck our tails and go home. [Trailing 33-0 and with three starters injured, Barron chose not to wait out another weather delay. The second half was not played.] Our kids are prideful, and that was humbling. We knew things had to change. It started with how we attacked practice. We tried to get a little better each week, and our chemistry started coming back together. If we'd played a soft schedule, we wouldn't be here today." 

3. Heard County was 1-19 in the two seasons before you came in 2002. What do you think you and your staff have done that not only turned the program around immediately, but sustained that success with seven region titles? "One, they were talented when we came here. They had a lot coming back from the previous year. The second thing, the coach they had prior, the transition that he gave me was unheard of. When I walked in the door, he gave me a notebook with a layout on every kid. He made it super easy for me coming into a place where I didn't know anybody. Sure, he was disappointed the previous season didn't go well, but he didn't get to hire all the people that I got to hire. Heard County allowed me to bring in everybody that I wanted. Being a head coach, you're only as good as those that work for you. We had a favorable schedule early in the [first] season, and coming off an 0-11 finish, when we started winning, we could've told the players anything and they would've done it. And now each year, it's setting a tradition. Our kids know the guys behind them were successful, and we always talk about leaving it better than we found it. Every kid that played before and every coach before are a part of where we are now, no doubt. [The previous head coach, Lance Taylor, has been a teacher at Heard County for 25 years. He's currently the department chair of social studies. Barron's offensive coordinator Randall Curbow and defensive coordinator D.J. Curbow are brothers. The three grew up together in Mableton, where they were next-door neighbors. See more on their relationship below.] 

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4. What's the scouting report on Rockmart? What do they do that makes them hard to beat? "The thing that's so unique about those guys is they're so explosive on offense. The speed of their game is unreal. They run lot of jet sweeps and buck sweeps, but their quarterback is really good. He's sitting there with tremendous athleticism. They run at you, and keep coming at you, and then when you get aggressive on defense, and they've got four verticals [receivers getting deep] going by you. That makes it so much more challenging defensively." 

[Barron became emotional when talking about his childhood and a special mentor named John Curbow, the father of Heard County coordinators D.J. and Randall Curbow. Barron and D.J. have been best friends since they were 5 years old as next-door neighbors. Randall is D.J.'s younger brother. John Curbow was a first lieutenant in the Army and received the Combat Infantryman's Badge, two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star and other military honors. "Mr. Curbow, he was a Viet Nam vet," Barron said. "He had his foot blown off in the war. He would take us to go hiking in the Appalachian Mountains every summer with just C-Rations. It was a guys' trip. We had to chop our wood. We didn't have tents. We'd have to make them out of ponchos, and he would tell us war stories. 'Y'all get to be men this night,' he'd say, and we got to smoke cigars with him. We'd hike back the next day. He was just a tremendous man. Boy, he disciplined us, though. Nowadays they'd run him out. If we were going on a family vacation and we were arguing, he'd put us out and pull up a mile and we'd have to jog up to him. He was old school. The things he did made us who we are." John Curbow loved football and coached Tim, D.J. and Randall in youth leagues. "We've known we were going to coach since we were 12 or 13 years old," Barron said. "Mr. Curbow would take us to football games every Friday night. If Valdosta was playing, we'd drive four hours, or we'd go see East Rome or West Rome. We were going to watch whatever big game there was that week. We told ourselves that whichever one got a head coaching job, we were all going to be together. I took the Alexander job in 1999, and we've been together for 20 years. I wish Mr. Curbow was here today." John Curbow passed away in 2009 at age 63.] 

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