I apologize up front to everyone I tried to contact this week.

One of the things that a coach likes to say is that they LOVE practicing Thanksgiving Week.

It means they’re still alive in the playoffs and they’re still chasing a title by the end of it all.

A lot of coaches aren’t doing that right now and, as I look across my timeline, I see the ones that wish they were in the cleats and boots of their compadres that are still going at it. They tip their collective hat to the ones that are still around on their various social media platforms and, in the words they use, you can feel the desire to get in those extra practices, those extra film sessions and those extra weeks of winning- chasing a win in Game 15.

So, in trying to be a little different this week, I went through my Rolodex. I will openly admit that, with a new phone, I have been trying to reconstruct my coach’s numbers FROM SCRATCH. I’m quite sure you all know how difficult something like that can be and asking me to “save something on the cloud” is one of the most technologically-challenging tasks you can ask.

For the coaches that picked up the phone, I can’t thank you enough for playing along -- as you’re trying to advance to a semifinal.


Joel Ingram, Washington County

The question I had for them all was: “What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?”

Joel Ingram, Washington County

“I’m thankful to be still coaching this time of year. In this crazy life for high school football coaches, we never can enjoy our successes until after the fact. Every day I have been thankful getting to coach football. I get to see, with our tough schedule, how we keep bouncing back and bouncing back -- seeing all the hard work you put in to it come to fruition. And you see the kids and all the risks they took buying in. You see how those were risks well taken. It’s been great. I can’t tell you! It’s like Christmas Day getting to coach this week. Every coach will tell you that. Coaches will tell you it’s a grind. But it’s not a grind this week.

“This is like Bowl Game week. Everybody is good and the feeling that you’re still playing? It’s hard. It’s a hard business getting A WIN -- much less a meaningful win or a playoff win. In this state the way coaching is … you’re not going to out-coach anybody. You better be really good at what you do. It’s like the lottery every year with so many good coaches and programs in the state where football is a religion and to be one of those, man, I am extremely thankful.”  


Brian Nelson, Mary Persons

Brian Nelson, Mary Persons

“I think there’s a lot of things ... Sometimes football coaches and fans and everybody get caught up in games and winning and losing. I’m thankful that I have a wife that supports it and a family that enjoys being around it. I’m thankful to be in a great community and a part of a program with good players that are supported and to be a part of a great coaching staff. I don’t know if it’s just one thing in particular.

“I think it’s a myriad of things that I’m thankful for in a football sense. In a non-football sense, we’re blessed that my kids are in a great school system and that my wife and family support what I do. That’s what I would say.”

Hal Lamb, Calhoun

“I’m thankful for the family that I have -- my wife, and my two boys -- and I’m also thankful for the job that I have.”  


Buddy Nobles, Irwin County

Buddy Nobles, Irwin County

“I’m just thankful for life. I’m just going to be honest with you. I’m blessed with a great family and I’m blessed with a great job. That and all the kids here at the school- it makes my life a whole lot easier. When you’ve got a great wife, a great group of kids, and a great support staff here at the high school, I’m just thankful for life because that helps my life out.”

Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald

“I’m thankful for my family. I’ve got a 2-year-old little girl. I’ve got a great wife, mom, dad and two brothers. They sure mean a lot to mean to me so I’m really thankful for my family. I’m thankful for our team and thankful for our players and how hard they’ve worked and how much they’ve bought in. Last year, we were a new staff coming in and this year they’ve all bought in, trusted us, and done what we’ve asked them to do. It’s really exciting to see them get rewarded for all their efforts. This group of seniors means a lot to me and I’m very thankful for them as well.”  

Jason Strickland, Pierce County

“I’m thankful for a great group of seniors that has done everything that we’ve asked them to do.” 

This is just a small sample of the coaches that I get to touch base with and follow on a yearly basis. When Coach Ingram sends a gif on your phone as a text that makes you smile, you get the reference immediately, it reminds you of when these kinds of conversations started. 

When “Football Fridays” does our “Wayback Wednesdays” and Chelsea asks me for predictions, I always give her the response of “I love all my children equally.” And I do. That has never changed.

Coaches change addresses occasionally and some hang up their proverbial shingle. It comes with time. But I am thankful that I get to tell their stories to you, Dear Reader, every single year. And this year makes 24 in the same chair. 

I am thankful for the chances we get to see each other and to tell your stories to one another to remind us all that the more we’re different, the more we’re the same. The size of the town and the school never matters. There’s more in common with every place we turn than the average bear will ever know.

On behalf of my family- my wife, Patty, and our furry beasts that rule the roost -- Trooper and Trouble -- we wish you nothing but the safest and most blessed of Thanksgivings.

We are all truly blessed of our place … both on the field and off.

Play it safe, everyone. I’ll see you at the stadium.