Today’s interviewee is Schley County coach Darren Alford, whose team defeated Bleckley County 48-42 in overtime last week. Schley’s record is 57-28 in Alford’s eight seasons after an 0-10 finish the season before his hiring. Schley was the Class A Division II runner-up last season.
1. Talk about the Bleckley game. How did things come down at the end? What were the key moments? “Friday night’s game was one the best games I have ever been in during my career. There were so many lead changes throughout the contest, with great plays being made by both teams. The key moment in the game was a fourth-and-4 call with three and a half minutes to go in the game. We were losing 42-35 at that time. Bleckley County was on offense and could have put the game away with a first down, but Carson Westbrook came up with a huge interception that led to the eventual tying touchdown that forced overtime. We held them on downs in the first overtime secession, and K.B. Aldridge scored on an 11-yard TD run to give us the win. The stands and the kids stormed the field. It was a great feeling and a sigh of relief.”
2. Jalewis Solomon, who is committed to Auburn, had a great game [116 yards receiving, four touchdowns, one on an interception return]. How would you describe his skill set and what sets him apart? “Jalewis is a tremendous player. He makes unbelievable plays on both sides of the football. He brings the big play on offense when we need a boost in the game, and just like Friday night, he reads quarterbacks and steps in front of the receiver and gets a pick six. His instincts are not teachable. They are innate. His abilities put pressure on the other team that allows our other great athletes one-on-one opportunities. This puts us in situations that give us the ability to use the entire field.”
3. Last season, you came within one win of the school’s first state title. How do you interpret/frame last season? “Last season was a great opportunity for us, but we have used it as a teaching tool for what we are trying to accomplish this season. We want to use it as motivation to achieve our goal of winning the state championship. We do realize how hard it is to get to that game, so we are trying to go about our business daily and control the things that we can. We want to treat each week the same. Go through the process of the weight room, game preparation and practice with purpose. If we do that, we can control how hard and how well we prepare. If we do that, we feel that with good health and a little good fortune, we can achieve our goals.”
4. How is this team better suited for the challenge ahead than last year? “I think the biggest difference this year is the fact that we have a veteran team. We have seven starters back on both sides of the ball. We have been able to get more focused on the teams that we play because the players understand what we are trying to do. They have a good grasp of all out schemes, so it’s been easy to adjust. Also, the experience in the big games helps us be more in the moment and not be overwhelmed when adversity comes our way.”
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