4 Questions with Warner Robins head coach Marquis Westbrook

Dec. 30, 2020 - Atlanta, Ga: Warner Robins coach Marquis Westbrook celebrates with the trophy after their 62-28 win against against Cartersville in the Class 5A state high school football final at Center Parc Stadium Wednesday, December 30, 2020 in Atlanta. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Combined ShapeCaption
Dec. 30, 2020 - Atlanta, Ga: Warner Robins coach Marquis Westbrook celebrates with the trophy after their 62-28 win against against Cartersville in the Class 5A state high school football final at Center Parc Stadium Wednesday, December 30, 2020 in Atlanta. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Today’s interviewee is Marquis Westbrook, head coach of two-time defending Class 5A champion Warner Robins. Westbrook became the Demons’ coach in 2019. His record is 40-4 with two state titles and one runner-up finish. Warner Robins opens its season at home Aug. 19 against Lee County.

Marquis Westbrook, Warner Robins head coach

1. With some months to reflect on the 2021 championship, what is the legacy of that team? What made it a little different than the teams that went before it? “I feel that the legacy of the 2021 team is rooted in our school’s history, being the first team to win back-to-back championships. The team was driven and led by a majority of seniors who knew going into the season that expectations were high, but they performed to the level of those expectations weekly. The team was the first in five years not to win the region but was able to finish the season with a state championship. The path to the championship game was more challenging than in years past, having to playing on the road in very tough environments in Round 2 through the semifinals.” [The Demons were 6-0 and ranked No. 1, averaging 55 points per game, when they lost their region opener to Ware County 29-21 on Oct. 15. They bounced back to win their final eight games, including a 38-14 victory over Calhoun in the final. It was the school’s sixth state title overall.]

2. What’s the scouting report on the 2022 team? Where do you feel this team will be strong, and what are the areas of concern? “The 2022 team for the most part is a collection of players who have game experience but will be in a leading role for the first time. On both sides of the ball, we are returning three starters and two players who played significant reps. On special teams, we are returning our punter, Jackson McCook, and kicker, Daniel Barber, both who performed at a high level. Defensively, our front will have the most experience going into the season having two returning linemen, Vic Burley and Chayce Smith, and one linebacker, Elijah Antonio, leading that unit.” [The new quarterback will be Isaiah Canion, who passed for 192 yards and rushed for 190 in limited action last season. Running back Malcolm Brown, a Georgia Power 100 player, is a two-time 1,000-yard rusher.]

3. You’ve had many outstanding players at Warner Robins, but as far as college prospects go, Vic Burley is the highest-rated Demons player this century. What are his talents and skill set that make him so good as a high school player and prospect? “Vic Burley has been blessed with the physical tools you don’t see many high school players possess. His size, quickness and punch are unbelievable for his age, and what’s more impressive is his ability to do it every day during practice. He continues to work every day regardless of the opponent; he is trying to perfect his craft. On top of that he is an awesome young man to be around and have in your building and locker room.”

4. Warner Robins has had great teams and runs over the years, but the five-year streak of making the finals is unprecedented. People forget that Warner Robins was 3-8 the season before this five-year run began. What set this streak into motion, and what has sustained it? “That 3-8 season was one of the seasons that we lost a few of the games by a close margin because we didn’t capitalize on many of our opportunities throughout games from a lack of focus. The following season we were able to turn our mindset to being intentional in the weight room and meetings with focus, and it translated to the field, which brought success. We started to win the close-margin games, and that got our players believing and feeling like the work was paying off. Our players and coaches have bought in to not settling and making Monday through Thursday just as important as Friday. It helps greatly when you have dominant players and players who understand their role. We are fortunate to have several players to go on to play on the next level, including players of the year in our classification.” [Those players of the year were Burley in 2021, Jalen Addie and Ahmad Walker in 2020 and Dylan Fromm in 2018 and 2019.]

Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.