Poag called the second half a “magical” half of football for the third win of the season. But this week, he starts region play with a tough Mt. Zion-Carroll team that has been ranked at (or near) the top of the Single-A rankings in the GPB poll.
The Poags grew up in Dalton and Jay played and coached at Davidson. His coaching career had even gotten to the point where he was coaching at Davidson AND working for a childhood buddy at Mohawk Industries.
“They let me coach the QBs while I had my full-time job,” Poag says when something changed. He was on an airplane headed to Las Vegas on a business trip when he had, what he terms, a “God Stop.”
“I was on the wrong seat on the wrong bus,” he says. “I opened up a sports performance training school in Dalton, and when this job opened up, I thought it was a door I was supposed to walk through.”
Some of the athletes transferred out, and Poag had 13 seniors in year one, but a lot of young students transferred in and he and his staff challenged every one of them to compete since. Last season, even in a 2-8 year, they were close in their losses, and the young players bought in in the off-season. It is paying off on the field in 2018.
“They act different and walk different right now,” Poag says. “The kids are excited, and the school’s excited. But our faith never wavered. We sure are enjoying the story. We preach about the next 40 years to our kids and there’s a bigger purpose here. My family and I wouldn’t have done it differently and don’t believe in coincidence.”
For Poag and his wife, Amy (the school’s college counselor), it’s a real-life “Friday Night Lights” situation where 100-percent of the students are accepted to college. They get to be a part of a program where they can influence people for the rest of their lives.
“It’s tough for 15, 16, 17, and 18-year-old boys and girls, but it’s a good feeling when you see you’re making a difference.”
And being 3-0 on the football field is a small part of that growth at one of the smallest schools in the state. Bottom line this week… big or small, you can still make an impact on those around you.
Play it safe, everyone… I’ll talk to you soon.