Today’s interviewee is Houston County coach Jeremy Edwards, whose team defeated Perry 57-56 on Friday. Edwards is a first-year head coach. He was the offensive coordinator for Warner Robins’ 2020 and 2021 Class 5A champions that averaged 43.7 points per game.
1. How would you describe Friday’s game? What were the key moments? “They jumped up on us pretty good. We threw a pick six off our kid’s helmet. At one point, it was 28-3. The biggest turning point was right before half. We scored twice in about a minute, then got a turnover early in the second half and turned it into a score [to make it 28-24]. After that, it was blow for blow. They would score, we would score, until the very end and we got a stop at midfield. A good punt return got us in position, and we scored to make it 56-55 [still trailing] with 10 seconds left. [A.J. Hill threw an 18-yard TD pass to Ricky Johnson in the back of the end zone.] I’d already made the decision we would go for two. Perry has so many explosive players, and we had a hard time hemming them up. So we ran a reverse pass. We put Ryan Taleb [Houston County’s best running back] in the slot, faked the handoff to our backup running back and pitched it to Ryan on the reverse. Ricky Johnson came on a drag route. We hit him for the two-point conversion.”
2. What attracted you to the Houston County job, and what is the challenge there? “They hadn’t been very successful since the Jake Fromm days [2013-16], so we’re trying to get back to that level of play. When Fromm was here, a lot of people were excited in this part of the county. We played them when I was at Warner Robins and I always felt they had great talent but just hadn’t put it all together. They have a good core, and with their quarterback being a young, highly recruited player, I felt it was a good situation to build around him. I wasn’t looking for a head-coaching job. We’d gone back-to-back state champions at Warner Robins. My family is happy here, but this job was in the county, and it felt like an untapped deal. The challenge here is that they didn’t have a lot of confidence. We addressed that when we came in January, and we try take that mentality into every game. Friday’s win was a shot in the arm. It showed them they can do it and that they’re never out of it. There’s a lot of life lessons in that, too.”
3. Why is Houston County such a good football county? “Everybody talks about Gwinnett County and south Georgia as having all the players in the state, but it’s no secret that central Georgia and this county have a lot of good football players too, and they’re spread out, and it’s always competitive. Houston County plays in 6A and in a tough region, so that leads to not having the records people have wanted, and we’re trying to get to that level where we’re competing with the Lee Counties of the world year in, year out. I think the success of football in the county is a testament to the school system. A lot of people come here for that. It’s known to do a great job with athletics and academics. The superintendent is phenomenal, and the county is dedicated to all sports and giving us what we need to be successful. We get great support here from our principal, athletic director and administrative team.” [The computer Maxwell Ratings rank the Houston County teams within their classifications this way: No. 7 Northside, No. 12 Houston County and No. 23 Veterans in Class 6A, No. 1 Warner Robins in 5A and No. 9 Perry in 4A.]
4. You’ve made your mark as an offensive coordinator. What’s your offensive philosophy, and what scores points in Georgia high school football? “The philosophy we have is the same I had at Warner Robins and Cairo and all the stops I’ve been at. We play with tempo. We’re big on spreading out the field. We’re a little different with our splits. Our wide receivers are super wide. We play three wide with a tight end. You’ve got to run the ball to win a state championship [thus a good-blocking tight end instead of four wide receivers]. We’re more of a play-action spread team if you wanted to call it something. We pride ourselves on being simple. We don’t change the play. We just change the presentation. We run four or five concepts, but we dress them up week to week. We try to do it simple for kids so they can play fast and not think too much. It’s also the way we practice on offense and defense, with tempo. We think that helps us be better conditioned than the other team.”
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