4 Questions with Cedar Grove head coach John Adams

Cedar Grove head coach John Adams is all smiles in the final minuets of his GHSA class AAA championship game against Carver-Atlanta Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta. (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Cedar Grove head coach John Adams is all smiles in the final minuets of his GHSA class AAA championship game against Carver-Atlanta Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta. (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Today’s interviewee is John Adams, coach of defending Class 3A champion Cedar Grove. Adams led Cedar Grove to a 12-3 finish and a 56-26 victory over Carver of Atlanta in the 2021 title game in his first season as head coach. Adams had been Cedar Grove’s defensive backs coach since 2016 and has been part of all four Cedar Grove state champions (2016, 2018, 2019, 2021).

John Adams, Cedar Grove head coach

1. With some months to reflect on the 2021 championship, what was the story line of that team, setting it apart from Cedar Grove’s other state champions? “We had some returning starters that were dominant players and real big names who went into their senior year wanting to come out on top. They were coming off losing in the quarterfinals in 2020. We had the opportunity to have a complete summer with no COVID restrictions. We were able to get into the weight room the entire summer. Our new practice field was built, and we were able to practice on an actual football field with lines instead of a baseball field.” [Some of the “real big names” now in college are Nebraska wide receiver Janiran Bonner, Arkansas running back Rashod Dubinion and Georgia defensive linemen Carlton Madden and Christen Miller.]

2. What are the prospects for the 2022 team? “This team has a lot of promise. We have a lot of guys coming back on both sides of the field with 16 returning starters. We have good captains and senior leadership. We have really good skill play. Our defensive line has only one senior, but they’re aggressive and smart football players. We have Kayin Lee, who is an All-American [cornerback committed to Ohio State]. We have [three-star linebacker] Everett Roussaw and [four-star defensive end] Adonijah Green. All those are on defense. Ricky Lee will be on both sides of the ball. [Lee is a receiver/defensive back committed to UConn.] We have Barry Jackson, who is an explosive receiver for us. [Jackson is committed to Nebraska]. Bodon Walker [a sophomore running back] has some big shoes to fill with Rashod Dubinion leaving. We also have a dynamic quarterback, Elliott Colson. He’s a dual-threat who is very mature for his age [as a sophomore]. He’s a real competitive kid with very good leadership skills and can really extend plays. This team is just going to be about growth and trusting each other and getting better each week.”

3. Kayin Lee is the most highly recruited of several Power 5 prospects on your team, and you were his position coach until you became head coach last season. What more can you tell us about him? “I’ve had the opportunity to see him develop for four years. He’s one that just comes in and puts his head down and works every day. He wants to be great, man. He wants to be the best that’s ever done it. I think he has great hands and is very instinctive. He’s going to play a little receiver for us and help in the return game, and we’ll put him on the other team’s best receiver.”

4. Your schedule is probably the toughest ever faced by a mid-sized Georgia school. You’re playing Class 7A programs Westlake, Collins Hill, Mill Creek and Colquitt County, all on the road. You’re facing national power St. John’s in Washington, D.C. And you’re playing Sandy Creek, a team that beat you last season, and then Carver in a rematch of the 2021 state title game. You’ve got only two home games. How did you wind up with such a schedule? “We always try to play a competitive non-region schedule, but this one right here is elite. Our region is only four teams, so it’s tough to find seven non-region games. I reached out to a couple of guys, and some reached out to me. Some of those guys who do the national schedules reached out to us. We have only two home games, but we’re road warriors. We enjoy the trips and going outside the city limits and seeing different parts of Georgia. We have some players who in the next couple of years will be playing at big-time colleges, and this is kind of like an SEC schedule where you’ve got to bring it every week. That’s what you’ve got to instill in your players, that you have to have that focus, and this schedule helps with that. By the end of the year, we should’ve seen everything, and that’s going to help us in the playoffs.”

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