Each week, five high school coaches will discuss one issue that affects Georgia high school sports. | Last week: Legislative oversight
At Issue: High school football coaches face undeniable pressures to win, to be couriers for success and stability within a program and to become the face that fan bases love or hate. In addition, they have to manage the general day-to-day operations of a football program, no easy task. In this day and age — where a Hudl highlight reel clip can create college scholarships and football film is being reviewed before teams hit the showers on Friday nights — the pressures on coaches come from all angles.
So what are the biggest pressures coaches face at the high school level?
The Skinny: Justin Rogers took over as head coach of the Colquitt County football team after the departure of Rush Propst, arguably one of the most controversial figures in the history of Georgia high school football.
A unique perspective was gained by Rogers when he transitioned from Class AAAAA Jones County to AAAAAA powerhouse Colquitt County.
“You’re always going to feel pressure coming to a program like this,” Rogers said. “It just is what it is. The expectations are so high. So you’re always going to have that.”
In his first season in Moultrie, Rogers led the Packers to a 9-3 record and a loss to Parkview, 40-21, in the second round of the playoffs. Entering his second season, Rogers knows the Packer fanbase is expecting a deep run.
And there always will be backseat coaches, those “keyboard pirates” who know the ins and outs of the game better than the professionals who coach for a living. And they always voice their opinions, and in many cases, they’re loud. And it’s not just one or two programs. It’s the same for most of them.
“I saw someone post on Twitter one time,” Rogers said laughing. “It seems like everyone in America can grill and coach football.”
It’s just the nature of the beast.
Rogers: “The average person doesn’t have any idea how much time coaches spend on the weekly prep to play a Friday night game, whether it be through film, studying games, planning meetings and practice. Just the countless hours, long hours that are spent to have that game-prep put together and ready to go out there. And you'll have your 15- to 18-year olds compete against their 15- to 18-year olds, and you all put that plan together.
“I started coaching in Georgia in 2002 and the landscape and the expectations have changed so much since then. Used to be, it was so much about how you went about things and the way that you went about the day-to-day operations. And now, high school football is just like the college football world to where now it’s so much result-oriented instead of process-oriented. Unfortunately, it’s not as much about the process and what you’re building along the way, as it is, 'did you win or lose your last one?' And that's kind of the nature of the beast, and it's kind of a reflection of our society. What’s the old saying: ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Now it’s ‘What have you done for me today?’ You know, that's our society that we live in. And so that’s changed and hiked more pressures up.
“Our kids are a little different with the social media and things like that. Our staff and I talk about it all the time: adapt or die. Just don’t go backward. So we have to adapt, but at the same time, you try to keep perspective of how important the process is and how important the way that you go about your day-to-day is. And how important that the character and the culture that you build is, as well as the influence that you’re hopefully having on young adults, is a positive one that they can carry a lifetime. And don't get blinded by results so much that you jeopardize that process of the man that you’re building.
“But yeah, you know, down here in South Georgia, the expectations and the pressures are there all the time. But right now, we try to remind ourselves that this coronavirus is crippling our nation and killing our economy. And you try to, with all that, put high school football at the place that it really has to be at right now. Given the circumstances are where they are, there’s a lot of more pressing issues.”
At Issue: Coaching pressure
• Andy Dyer, Archer football coach
• Dave Hunter, former Brookwood football coach
• Bryant Appling, Buford football coach
• Justin Rogers, Colquitt County football coach
• Tim McFarlin, Blessed Trinity football coach
» MORE: Previous topics
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.