4 Questions with Holy Innocents’ head coach Todd Winter

Today’s interviewee is Holy Innocents’ coach Todd Winter, whose team won Region 4-4A and will play Hampton on Friday in the first round. The computer Maxwell Ratings picked Holy Innocents’ to finish in third place and gave the Atlanta private school a 15.9% chance to win the region. Winter is in his sixth season as the Golden Bears’ coach.

Todd Winter, Holy Innocents’ head coach

1. What made winning this region such an accomplishment, and how did your team pull it off? “The past five years, our classification was Single A Private. This past year we moved up three classifications to 4A and we were unsure of how much of an adjustment this transition would be for our program. We went from primarily competing against schools of similar size to facing schools with four times our high school enrollment on a weekly basis. This region title is a testimony to the hard work our players and coaches have put forth as well as the administrative and community support to the program. Our program’s culture has been the key to our success on the field this year and in the past few seasons. Our players believe and play for one another. We are built on being servant leaders.”

2. What went into your school’s decision to play in Class 4A? And what do you think of the GHSA’s way of classifying? “During the 2020 reclassification cycle, we asked to be moved to 2A and were denied. So this past cycle we asked to move to 4A before the GHSA imposed the new multiplier rule that moved us to 4A. Our primary reason for wanting to move up was the opportunity to play Westminster, Pace and Lovett. All three schools are close in proximity and natural rivalry games for us. I have no issue with the GHSA’s classification procedures and the way they reclassified this past cycle. My only wish is that we would have been placed in a region with Westminster, Pace and Lovett.” [The GHSA put Holy Innocents’ and Westminster in a region with three DeKalb County schools and one Fulton school. Lovett and Pace Academy are in Region 5 with schools from Clayton and Henry counties.]

3. Your team appears to have played its best games the past two weeks. You went from narrowly beating two non-playoff teams [Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb] to winning comfortably against two playoff teams [Stephenson, Hapeville Charter]. What explains that? “Westminster was very similar to the teams we had played in Single A Private competition, while Miller Grove and Southwest Dekalb were much different. Miller Grove and SWD were much bigger, faster and more physical than teams we played in Single A and in our non-region schedule. We struggled in those two games adjusting to their size, overall team speed and physicality. I believe adjusting to those factors and gaining confidence led to our team improving in the last two games.”

4. What should fans know about your team? The style of play, identity, etc.? “Our style of play is an anomaly compared to most teams. We are an under-center triple-option attack on offense that averages 4.7 pass attempts per game. We want to run the ball, slow the game down and keep our defense off the field. In the Miller Grove game, we did not attempt a pass. On defense, we are multiple and aggressive. Our defense has created 29 takeaways this season. In special teams, we want to be sound and create opportunities for our offense and defense to be successful.”

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