4 Questions with East Coweta head coach John Small

East Coweta's Gerald Green runs for a touchdown during the first half of the Indians' 2018 Class 7A first-round playoff game victory over Marietta. (Jason Getz/Special)

Today’s interviewee is East Coweta coach John Small, whose team defeated then-No. 7 Collins Hill 24-17 in overtime in a Class 7A game Friday. East Coweta is ranked No. 8 this week, the program’s first top-10 ranking since 2010. Small is in his fourth season as the Indians' head coach.

John Small, East Coweta head coach

1. What was the significance of Friday’s win for your team? “It was a huge hump game for our program to get over the hump of beating a ranked team at home in the regular season and not just being close. Great program win for what we want to accomplish as a program, which is a program that believes we can compete at the highest level.” [The victory was East Coweta’s first over a ranked opponent since beating No. 10 Marietta in the 2018 Class 7A first round. It was the first victory at home over a top-10 team from the same classification since the Indians beat No. 10 Newton in 2010.]

2. What won the game for you? “Just our kids' belief in each other and the love they have for one another. We have a bunch of resilient kids that only know how to compete and expect to win, and a bunch of coaches that love these kids to death and want them to succeed in every phase of life. The players just stayed stay so calm in pressure situations and responded to the challenge in front of them. We were very physical the whole game and just kept choppin' wood. It came down to winning in the second overtime and just staying the course and not getting rattled and embracing every challenge that came our way. And then it came down to kids making plays when it counted.”

3. What have been the most important things that you and your staff have attempted to establish since you came? When you compared East Coweta to the top programs in Gwinnett County, where you formerly coached, where was the gap that needing closing? "Our staff has tried to implement a culture of loving one another and a willingness to do anything you need to do for each other, and to love on these kids daily and to develop a trust within our program with the kids and coaches. We have challenged our kids with tough schedules the past two years, and they have now a belief they can play with anyone and have been battle tested and prepared for these moments.

[As far as closing a gap ... ] “Learning how to prepare on the field and off the field in order to win big games against quality opponents. Just the day-to-day operation of doing the little things right on and off the field.”

4. Where do you feel your team is now along that journey, and how important is the top-10 recognition? “We are still growing and getting better and need to continue to do the little things that got us to this point, which is stay humble and stay hungry. We know recognition is fleeting unless you handle it right, so it’s great for our kids to earn that recognition after all they’ve been through and enjoy it, but now the test is how do we handle it as a program. We have a lot of belief in these kids, and our job is to help them navigate through it to reach our full potential as a program.”

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