4 Questions with Effingham County head coach John Ford

November 23, 2018 - Buford, Ga: Former Buford coach John Ford, now at Effingham County, greets lineman Reece McIntyre (56) before their game against Bainbridge at Buford High School Friday, November 23, 2018, in Buford, Ga. This is the quarter finals of the Class 5A state playoffs. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)
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November 23, 2018 - Buford, Ga: Former Buford coach John Ford, now at Effingham County, greets lineman Reece McIntyre (56) before their game against Bainbridge at Buford High School Friday, November 23, 2018, in Buford, Ga. This is the quarter finals of the Class 5A state playoffs. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Today’s interviewee is Effingham County coach John Ford, whose team defeated Glynn Academy 20-14 last week. Effingham had lost 14 consecutive games to Glynn, including last season’s 38-0 defeat. The Rebels are 4-2 in Ford’s first season, exceeding last season’s victory total by one. Ford has been head coach at Roswell and Buford and was Bleckley County’s defensive coordinator last year.

John Ford, Effingham County head coach

1. What does a win like beating Glynn Academy do for your team and program and why? “Hopefully it reinforces processes that lead to successful outcomes on the football field. We are big proponents of saying, ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent, and how you do anything is how you do everything.’ Therefore, I hope our kids take positive reinforcement from the fact that a good week of preparation is foundational to earning the right to compete against a great program like Glynn.”

2. What did you see in the Effingham job that made it attractive to you? “To be honest, I knew very little of this place before last winter, but my wife and I loved going to Savannah, so we swung by on our way there and fell in love with the area. Guyton, Springfield and Rincon are great towns with proximity to the coast. It really was hard to beat; however, what sold me was when I sat down with the superintendent [Dr. Yancy Ford, no relation] and heard his vision for what he wanted this program to be, combined with the leadership he had in place at the high school [with principal Amie Dickerson and athletic director Matt Huntley]. So you had an awesome spot to live, a great school system to raise kids in and the leadership in place to begin the process of building.”

3. You coached memorable teams at Roswell and Buford. You’ve been in South Georgia since. What are the differences in coaching metro Atlanta vs. south Georgia, and also high profile vs. a program trying to establish itself? Are there parts about this job that you enjoy more than any other you’ve had? “There are a lot of people a lot smarter than me who can articulate better differences between the metro and South Georgia. I have been blessed beyond measure to coach some great kids up there and love the kids I am coaching down here, and I do not worry about any differences, to be honest. I think the main difference in a program that is established vs. a program trying to build is that at an established program, the culture is already defined and hopefully understood. Now, as a leader, you have to buckle your chinstrap up and fight for that culture every day. I have learned the hard way that just because it is understood doesn’t mean you don’t have to go to war for your core values daily, but the ideas exist beyond just an ethereal sense. I think in a perennial powerhouse, one of the things you have to consistently fight is complacency to what it took to get there. When building a program, you are having to establish the standard, enforce the standard, bring positive energy and constantly bring up, show examples of and reward desired behaviors. Not that you don’t at a program that is constantly in the third round or beyond, but at a place where you are trying to establish a program, it feels more like fighting a two-front war so to speak. I enjoy the process of building to be sure.”

4. By most measures, Effingham is one of the most improved teams in the state. What do you believe that you and the staff have done that has made the most difference? “Occam’s Razor. The simplest answer is the most likely. There were a bunch of really good kids and coaches already in the building who have worked real hard, combined with the administration allowing me to hire some good coaches, and I just try to stay out of their way. This is a great place, and I am blessed to be here.”

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