4 Questions with Dade County head coach Jeff Poston

Today’s interviewee is Dade County coach Jeff Poston, whose team is playing a home playoff game for the first time since 2013 on Friday night against Heard County. A victory would be the school’s first in a home playoff game. Poston is a Dade County graduate who became head coach in 2020. His team is 7-3 after the program won only five games total the previous three seasons.

Jeff Poston, Dade County head coach

1. Is the home playoff game a big deal? What has been the reaction on the team and in the school and community? “It is definitely a big deal. Our goal this year was to win a region championship and host a playoff game. We came within four points of accomplishing what we set out to do [Dade County is Region 7-2A runner-up to Fannin County, which beat Dade 21-17 last week for the title], so it is a big deal because our kids see what is obtainable. Our community has been great. They have been excited, and really that started last season. We were in every ball game we played last year with the exception of two. We lost four games by a total of 10 points, and we had a chance in those games until the final seconds. That really helped to build the excitement within the community.”

2. Are the players aware of the history, that you could win a home playoff game for the first time? Or that you were that close to winning a region title for the first time in school history? “Our kids are aware of the history, and they’re aware that our goal is to set a new standard. We talk a lot about not accepting the ceiling others set for us. The message has been that Dade County kids are just as capable as any other group of kids. We don’t have to settle for anything. We can work for what we want, and what we want is to win region championships. As far as inspiring them, I don’t know that we do anything special other than believing in them. We have a motto here, Third Monkey Mentality. I got it from Tim Kennedy, who said, ‘If you’re going to fight, fight like you’re the third monkey on the ramp to Noah’s Ark, and it’s starting to rain.’ That’s the way we approach everything.”

3. You are one of three Dade County alumni who are GHSA head football coaches. Rick Hurst of Pepperell and Bradley Warren of McIntosh County Academy are the others, and their teams also are in the playoffs. How do you explain a program that hasn’t had great statewide success producing three head coaches? Was there something in your experience as a high school player that inspired you to become a coach? “I think it’s pretty cool that there are three of us from this little town. I think there could be a fourth soon if Jamey McMahan at McIntosh County Academy decides to go after a job. I know our school hasn’t had a lot of success statewide in football, but we’re still a Southern town, and we still love the game. This game just sticks with you. It’s special, and once it’s in your blood, you can’t get away from it. As far as my own experiences, it goes back to the guys I played with. We grew up playing little league with each other, and I know we didn’t win a lot of games at the high school level, but we were usually in games until the fourth quarter. Even now when we see each other we talk about games, practices, coaches and things that happened. Like I said, this game gets in your blood. We had coaches like Whit Taylor, Steve Britton, Alan Long and Gene Durden at Dade during those days. A couple of those guys became pretty big deals in basketball, and the other two became pretty big deals in Tennessee. Coach Taylor played quarterback at Vanderbilt in the early ‘80s. All the time you spend over a four-year period with a group of teammates and coaches has a profound effect on your life.”

4. What has been the most important thing that you and your staff have done to go from 3-17 the two seasons before you arrived to 7-3 and almost a region champ? “I think the most important thing we did last year was to make football fun. We have always had a problem here keeping kids out. We wanted to create an offense that was exciting to watch and exciting to play in. We had a game last year where we only ran the ball one time. That approach helped us pull some kids from the hallways to play. The depth created helped us stay healthy enough to be competitive at the end of this season. Having every coach in the school on the same page helps with that issue, as well. We want kids to play multiple sports. We try to schedule summer workouts and other things in a way where the kids don’t get overwhelmed and burn out. You can’t win games with kids who don’t play.”

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