4 Questions with Telfair County head coach Matt Burleson

Today’s interviewee is Telfair County coach Matt Burleson, whose team defeated Dooly County 32-17 last week to clinch second place in Region 4-A Division II. The victory guaranteed the Trojans their first home playoff game since 1993. Burleson has been Telfair County’s coach the past 11 seasons, the fourth-longest tenure at one school in Class A Division II. His record is 54-56 at a program that was 1-19 the two seasons before he arrived.

1. What’s the significance of winning that game last week? “For obvious reasons, it was important to us because it was a big region matchup versus a very good Dooly County team, but it was also senior night for our six seniors. They are a small group but a great group. Far beyond the field, they are a fun group to be around. They have put in the work and endured tough times, but they never quit. I’m so glad we were able to get this game for them. To clinch a home playoff game was huge, not only for our program but our entire community. You can feel the excitement in the school staff and the community. We have come a long way in the past 11 seasons, and we have taken the next step in the development of our program. We are still working toward our goals, but we are pleased with the progress we have made. It has not been an easy task, but the kids that have come through have made it all worthwhile.”

2. Our Improvement Tracker has Telfair County as the seventh-most improved team in Class A Division II. What’s the difference between this year and last year? “Over the last couple of years, we have had to play a lot of young players, and they took their lumps but that has proven valuable experience coming into this season. They had outstanding winter, spring and summer sessions that led us to where we are now.”

3. What has the advent of Division II meant to Telfair and other schools? “I believe Dividing Class A I has allowed some of the smaller schools a better chance to compete versus schools closer in size to them.”

4. What has kept you in Telfair County so long? And for those who don’t know, where exactly are you? “Most people in Georgia have no clue where Telfair County is located. I just keep naming ‘big’ cities near us until they recognize one, then I tell them how far we are from there. The community has welcomed my family and me since Day 1 when we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We’ve made a lot of friends and forged life-long bonds. It’s so rewarding to see kids in a small community go off and conquer the real world. It warms my heart that they reach out when they’re home to come by and say hi, send invites to weddings, birth announcements, etc. Our community is so supportive of all of our students in Telfair County Schools, and we are humbled to help lead a small part of the system.” [Telfair County High School is about 35 miles south of Dublin, 50 miles east of Cordele and 100 miles west of Savannah.]

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