Today's interviewee is Metter coach Rodney Garvin, whose team won Region 2-AA after a 15-12 victory over Jeff Davis last week. The region championship is the Tigers' first since 2003. Garvin, in his second season at Metter, had been the defensive coordinator at Vidalia.
Rodney Garvin, Metter head coach
1. What does the region title mean to the team and players and school? And when did you find out? How did you get news that you'd won the region, and what was the reaction of everyone? "Everyone around here is super excited about Metter football. Monday morning, I acted like I was upset about something and had the team take a knee. Then I had the region trophy unveiled, and they went nuts. They are so excited, but we brought them down to earth during practice and let them know our first-round opponent, Screven County, cares nothing about this. Most of our players were not even born the last time Metter won a region championship in football. It's never happened in Class AA until this year. The win week nine versus Vidalia opened up the conversation about possibly winning Region 2-AA, but we had to beat a tough Jeff Davis team, and Toombs County had to defeat Swainsboro. With our game ending early with a 15-12 win, our players and coaches and Metter family all were celebrating getting in the playoffs. Everyone stayed on the game field in Metter and awaited the final score from Swainsboro. It was absolutely a moment to remember for all of us. Everyone went crazy. With my wife being with me through all the coaching ups and downs, it was an awesome experience for her, and my mother being here too made it extra special. Our adult children were texting my wife the entire game, so yes it was special."
2. Was a region title really on the minds of the team after losing to Swainsboro? "Our team and community has been starving to win, and that hunger continues today. We all wanted to get in the playoffs badly. Being region champions was icing on the cake. Our mindset from day one up until right now is let's get better today - weight room, classroom and practice field. Be tough and fight. We believe if we do those things consistently, the winning takes care of itself. We as coaches believe in these kids, and they pay us back with grit and determination."
3. You had been at Vidalia, so you were familiar with Metter before taking the job. What did you see in the job that attracted you to it? "I am from neighboring Jenkins County, so I have seen Metter up close my entire life. I played against Metter in high school in the early '80s and coached against Metter in the late '90s and again while in Vidalia from 2007 to 2017. Metter is one of those places that has good athletes who will compete and has cycles like other places when really great athletes come through the door. That does not guarantee a winning culture, but as my friend coach Rex Hodges says, you can't win without them. I was also attracted to the job because of the administration and their commitment to supporting Metter athletics. Superintendent Dr. [Bubba] Longgrear and at the time of my hiring principal Dr. John Jordan wanted a winning program and assured me of their commitment to that end. My current principal, Ellis Strobridge, and AP Ronnie Doolittle and AD Scott Scofill all are very supportive of what we do and how we do it. For everyone involved, I am so very thankful. I was told a long time ago if your administration wants you to win, if you have some athletes you will. If your administration doesn't care about winning, you never will. Thank God we have folks here who care."
4. You took over a program coming off back-to-back losing seasons. You've now had back-to-back winning seasons. What has been the most important thing that you and your staff have done to get the program on a winning track? "I am so fortunate to have God-fearing men on my coaching staff who love football and can coach football. My coaching mentors - coach Buzz Busby and the late legendary coach Luther Welsh - instilled in me the importance of the weight room, and that was the No. 1 thing we did to get this program headed in the right direction. No. 2 was a quote from Coach Welsh and Thomson coach John Barnett that I have painted on our fieldhouse wall. My daddy Franklin Garvin lived it out: 'You don't outsmart folks, you outwork them.' That is who we are. And No. 3 was holding our players accountable for how they do life. Classroom work, behavior, weightlifting is never missed without being made up, year-round. Once we established our beliefs and expectations, the kids have for the most part done what we asked. I have taken a little of the great men I have worked for in the past and kind of pulled the good from each man and built my philosophy, and thus far it's working. Our football coaches - Eric McNair, Mitch Nobles, Scott Schofill, Cassius Osborn, Corey James, Daniel Flowers, John Mark Sweat and Ray Woodcock - are incredible to work with. Our athletic trainer Nick Thompson does a tremendous job of taking care of our athletes and getting them ready to play. It's an entire group of men working for a common goal."
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