4 Questions with Ware County head coach Jason Strickland

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High school football

Credit: For the AJC

Today’s interviewee is Ware County coach Jason Strickland, whose team defeated then-No. 1 Warner Robins 29-21 last week in Region 1-5A. The victory avenged a 2020 Ware loss to Warner Robins and ended the Demons’ 15-game winning streak, which had been the longest in the state.

Jason Strickland, Ware County head coach

1. Is beating Warner Robins important mentally for the team? Does it do something for the team beyond what it does in the standings? “I think it certainly does something mentally for our group. It confirms to our guys that if we prepare the way we have at practice the last couple of weeks we can go compete against anyone. If we don’t, we are vulnerable to anyone. Does it do anything beyond what it does in the standings? It give us an opportunity to see how we handle success. We have handled adversity in a positive way this year. Now with what we have been able to do the last couple of weeks, we have to opportunity to show everyone how we handle success.”

2. What made the difference in the game? “I thought our line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball played extremely well. I thought in last year’s game they dominated the line of scrimmage. That was a major focus for us this year. They are so well-coached and compete at such a high level, you have to be willing to compete against them every play. They are relentless. I thought our guys committed to that early in the week and gave themselves an opportunity to be successful.” [Ware took a 22-0 lead in the first half and became the first team this season told hold Warner Robins below 48 points.]

3. Your team has beaten nine ranked opponents over the past two seasons. What has been the benefit of playing such a tough schedule? “We are certainly battle-tested. The benefit is we have an idea of how our guys will respond in pressure situations. They are in a lot of those throughout the season. From a coaching standpoint, we have to guard against mental fatigue and recognize when our guys need a bit of a break. I think our coaches have handled the schedule really well, but our players have been incredible. They love playing in big games against quality opponents.”

4. You lost only twice last season, each time to a team that made the finals (Warner Robins, Cartersville), both close. How is this year’s team different? “I think the biggest thing is our experience this year. Our guys fully recognize they were close last year. A few plays here or there and we might have been playing the last weekend of the season. They know that. They have done everything they can since we got back in January to make sure we have no regrets. We know you have to be more than just good to be able to get in that game, but I like how our group is choosing to prepare on a daily basis.”

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