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.
John Reid, Class AAAAA champion Rome
1. With a full offseason to reflect, what is the most memorable or special thing that you take from your championship season? "Last year we drove three hours in a driving snowstorm, arrived at the Mercedes-Benz dome and were told the game was canceled. We were the home team, undefeated and the defending state champions. After a coin toss, we were the visiting team, we had to play on our opponent's home field, and we had a 200-mile bus ride to get there. Did I mention that our opponent was traditional state power Warner Robins and was also undefeated? And they had a quarterback that was all-state and named Fromm? The lasting memory is the way our coaches and players handled this very tough set of circumstances. Our coaches devised a motivational plan. We put together a detailed logistics plan that took nothing for granted, and we put the plan in motion. Our kids played great on our opponent's home field, in front of a loud and frenzied crowd. We went on to beat a great Warner Robins team 38-0, and it will definitely go down as one of my best football memories. As a side note, I want to say that we were fortunate enough to play in a dome the previous year, and while we were very disappointed that we did not get to play at the new dome, the memory of playing the game on the opponent's field in front of that crowd will be a lasting one."
2. What did winning this championship teach you about what it takes to win a championship that you didn't already know? "The 2017 state championship was a repeat (back-to-back) for us. We heard a lot about repeating for a whole year. In fact, the talk started almost before we got home to Rome after the state finals. We taught the kids that there is no such thing as repeating because this is not the same team. The 2017 team will play without the seniors, we will play a different schedule, and that to be better than the 2016 team, they had to win 14 games. (We were 13-2 in 2016.) We set goals to decrease our defensive points against, improve turnover ratio and play great on special teams. I think that this helped decrease the outside pressure that was put on the 2017 team to repeat."
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? "Let's see, the question is to critique the decisions made regarding a freak winter storm that forced cancellation of football games at an indoor stadium in Atlanta. It's hard to be critical when the decisions were made to keep people safe. Everyone has their opinion of what they would have done, myself included. The truth is nobody ever thought what happened was even possible. What we have learned is to develop a contingency plan for everything. I will be more critical of the decision to move the games to non-neutral sites, and this is why. Georgia high school football is so good that the games need to be played on a neutral site. The players and coaches work year round to get to that game, and to put a team on the road (200-plus miles), stay in a hotel and play on the opponent's field does the game a disservice. It is an unfair advantage in many ways. The visiting team takes on the burden of canceling school, renting buses, hotels etc. I am not a fan of instant replay at any level - pro, college, high school. I think that it has made really good referees less effective."
4. What's the outlook for your team this season? What are your chances of repeating? "This is going to be a fun team to coach this season. We have some kids that have been waiting for their opportunity, and I cannot wait to see how they will do. We will have to beat some really good teams in our region to make the playoffs. If we take care of the football, play good on special teams and get some breaks, we might earn a home playoff game. If we are fortunate to get that opportunity, we will play and have to defeat some great teams to advance."
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