Today’s interviewee is Telfair County coach Matt Burleson, whose team is playing in its first semifinal in history Friday night at No. 2 Manchester in Class A Division II. This is Burleson’s 12th season as Telfair’s head coach.
1. What has been the response of the community and school to making the semifinals? “The school and community have been outstanding. But they have always been so supportive of all our extracurriculars here at Telfair County. It has been exciting for our young men to see the community come alive. The atmosphere against Portal on the road and then Macon County at home was electric. Our 12th man showed up and showed out.” [Telfair County beat No. 8 Portal 14-12 in the second round and No. 3 Macon County 38-14 in the quarterfinals.]
2. You were ranked in the top 10 and undefeated into late October, then lost your last two regular-season games to Dooly County and Treutlen. How do you explain the turnaround? “We got a little banged up towards the end of the regular season and were short-handed, but that’s part of the game, and we didn’t quite perform like we have come to expect here now. I do feel, however, it was a great wake-up call for us heading into the playoffs. We have a great group of senior leaders that made sure we were ready to roll.”
3. What is unique or unusual or a little different about your team? “These boys are just a team of guys that like to work hard and compete. There are no ‘stars,’ rather just a bunch of kids that come together and play for one another. They are a fun group of young men to coach and watch each Friday night.”
4. This is your 12th season at Telfair County. What has kept you there so long? “The community has been great to our family and welcomed us in as one of their own. There has been a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people to help get us where we are and a lot of gray hair now too, but there’s something to be said for small communities in Georgia and Friday night lights.”
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