Four Questions with LaGrange head coach Chuck Gibbs

Today's interviewee is LaGrange coach Chuck Gibbs, whose team defeated defending Class AA champion Heard County 24-9 on Friday. Gibbs, now in his second season at LaGrange, inherited a team that went 0-10 in 2017. LaGrange is 1-0 for the first time since 2015. Gibbs is the son of Alex Gibbs, a longtime college and NFL coach. Alex Gibbs, now 78, helped with practices last week and was on the sidelines for the Heard County game.

Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange head coach 

1. What was the significance of Friday's win? "The win means everything to us. Starting 1-0 against a team like Heard County really gives us momentum. We felt like we competed with them last year [losing 10-3] and played good defense. We just couldn't move the ball. We're fortunate that we caught them early before their talented players gained a lot of game experience. For us, our defense played great, but our offense took a big step forward. When I came in last May, it was the fourth offense they've installed over the past three years. We had a full offseason in the weight room, a full spring and summer, which makes a huge difference. I brought in additional coaches and spent more time with them. Offenses take longer to mature, but we've got a talented, sharp quarterback [1430 SAT] in Charles Crawford. This is his second year in our system, and his poise and decision-making were remarkable last Friday."

2. Your father spent the week with you and helped coach the team last week. How did the players respond to him? "The kids love it. They are Google-proficient and know who Alex Gibbs is. When he gets on them, their eyes get big. The thing with him is that he's an exceptional teacher. He's not just a coach. Anyone can put on a whistle and be a coach, but he is an elite teacher as far as words and ideas and philosophies. The offensive line is the truest unit in football. If their footwork is not like synchronized swimmers, it's not going to look good. You've got to get them all on the same page, and he knows how to get every student to pick up on what we're doing."

3. What was the game like with him there? "He got us a sideline warning on Friday. He's wearing jeans and cruising the coach's box looking to make an impact. His grandson is playing, so it's personal for him. It's just a riot. It was a really fun week for our family, and a once-in-a-lifetime chance for other high school kids to be coached by a football legend. He spent the week here and sat in on all our coaches meetings and dinner. He even called some college head coaches for our players this week. It's reassuring that you've got somebody of his stature looking over your shoulder saying, 'I wouldn't do anything different.' Everybody has mentors in their lives. I'm fortunate that mine is my father." [Grandson Kale Gibbs scored on a 54-yard run against Heard County.]

4. How is Georgia football relative to other states where you've coached or watched it? "It's a different beast. A lot of it is the way the GHSA allows us to do padded camps and OTAs. They control it so that it's safe, and it allows us opportunities to get kids more realistic experience. That experience lifts Georgia up as one of the top states for high school football. I've coached college or high school football in Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, New York and Texas and now a full year in Georgia. Alabama does not allow pads in the summer. In Arizona, spring football is just 10 days in shorts and t-shirts, no helmets or contact. Texas governs football in their state really well. The association governing high school athletics plays a big role, and obviously, talent and population are essential roles to keep Georgia at the top of the country."

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