Today's interviewee is Mays coach Maliki Battle, whose team defeated South Paulding 28-7 last week to move into first place in Region 5-AAAAAA. Mays is 35-10 in four seasons under Battle and can clinch a third region title with a victory Friday against Alexander.
Maliki Battle, Mays head coach
1. How do you feel about Friday's win and where your team stands at this point, one victory from clinching the region title? "I believe that Friday's win will help us propel through the last couple of games in the region. We are gaining confidence each week, and our level of play is increasing tremendously."
2. You won region titles and reached the state quarterfinals in 2016 and 2017, your first two seasons as coach. Do you feel this year's team is back to that level? How does this team compare to those teams? "Each team played differently. We were able to accomplish the same goal each year by implementing different game plans that catered to the skill levels of our kids. This year's team has similar traits from both teams but definitely not the same skill set level. Each region championship team was very unique in their own way. This year's team in my opinion can become one of the better teams in our tenure at Mays."
3. Do you feel your team has been overlooked this season? You weren't ranked until midseason or later, and that's been like No. 8-10. South Paulding was ranked ahead of you. Was that motivation? "Not at all. South Paulding is a great program. We have a great amount of respect for their coaches and the job they are doing at South Paulding. As far as being overlooked, we have always been overlooked. Our motivation is gaining respect each season as a perennial program. Region 5-AAAAAA is very competitive. Despite all of the naysayers, we play in a playoff-caliber region. We are battle-tested throughout the regular season."
4. You inherited a team that was coming off two strong years and had been consistently good for many years. Yet you've taken the program to two region titles and are on the brink of a third. So many times when you lose a good and popular coach, the program takes a step backward. What do you feel that you and your staff did that ensured the program would maintain its success and actually improve on it? "I wouldn't necessarily say inherited. We built a great program together from 2013-2015. Being the assistant head coach under Corey Jarvis placed me in a position to continue building what we had built. The foundation was strong. Even if we failed afterwards in terms of our team goals, we had landed on a solid foundation to rebuild again. Experience has taught us to correct things that we failed and continue to build on things that we do well with."
Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.
About the Author
Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com