4 Questions with Paulding County head coach Van Spence

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Today’s interviewee is Paulding County coach Van Spence, whose team defeated No. 9-ranked Douglas County last week. The victory was Paulding’s first over a top-10 opponent since beating Pebblebrook in 2001.

Van Spence, Paulding County head coach

1. What was the significance of that victory for Paulding County? “The win was huge for our school and community. We were a huge underdog, but our kids trusted the plan and battled. The biggest significance was it showed our kids that you can compete at a high level versus a very quality team. Another significant point is it keeps us in the 6A playoff hunt. All wins in our region are significant.”

2. How did the game play out? What allowed you to win? “It had an old-school feel, playing the field-position game because both defenses were playing at a very high level. We were tied at the half and trailed most of the second half, but our defense created a couple of turnovers that gave us an opportunity to kick a field goal to take the lead late. Matthew Frey had a big game, converting three kicks of 19, 35 and 39 yards. What allowed our kids to win was relentless effort and belief they could find a way. I’m extremely proud of our players and coaches. They earned and deserve this.”

3. What happened between Oct. 2 and Oct. 16 that would allow a team that lost to Alexander 42-6 come back two weeks later and defeat a team that beat Alexander? “Nothing happened. We have some great young men at PC, and they just went back to work. We started and played 12 sophomores versus Alexander, so a couple of weeks to mature, correct mistakes and work through some ‘issues’ really benefited the entire group. As far as what our staff did, we stayed the course. I have a great group of coaches working with our players, and no one hit the panic button. We just kept working. One thing we did do this week that paid dividends was pressure field-goal situations daily.”

4. You have one of the state’s best players, five-star recruit Smael Mondon, but he’s injured. How has the team compensated for his loss? “Unfortunately, he had knee surgery several weeks ago and is out. Smael played a key role supporting his teammates Friday. He continues to be a great teammate. His presence on the field is surely missed, but he continues to play a key role on Friday nights. Losing Smael was a huge blow because he was so valuable on both sides of the ball. We have had several seniors step up on and off the field. We started eight sophomores versus Douglas County who understand they are the next man up. In this region it is trial by fire, and a bunch of guys stepped.”

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