Podcast: Be-Ware Of The Gators
Hosts Hannah Goodin and Jon Nelson catch you up on the headlines around the state and are joined by Jason Strickland, the head football coach of the Ware County Gators. He talks about the big win last week against Coffee, what it's like coaching in 2020, and what his team means to the surrounding community.
Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us, however you are doing so, large devices or small, off of your favorite podcatcher: You name the pod catcher, we're on it. Hit “Like,” “Friend,” and “Save,” and that way, every single time a new one pops up, you can find out when that is. You can listen to me and Hannah talk about high school football every single week during football season. Once a month when football season is not in season — but it's always in season.
Hannah Goodin: It's always in season.
Jon Nelson: OK. So let me let me let me peel back the fourth wall here a little bit, OK? Before we started before we started the show this week, I told Hannah about the reboot of Saved by the Bell on Peacock, which is NBC’s new channel that you can get online. So I tell her about this reboot and the promo is out. And what was your initial reaction?
Hannah Goodin: I said as of 12:03 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27 —
Jon Nelson: As we're taping this.
Hannah Goodin: — I am deceased.
Jon Nelson: She is — she's no longer with us.
Hannah Goodin: I can't believe it. They are rebooting Saved by the Bell?
Jon Nelson: Yep, it is — Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Amber Thiessen. It is Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley. And apparently, Zach is the governor of California.
Hannah Goodin: Unreal.
Jon Nelson: And Kelly is the First Lady. And let's see, Mario Lopez is the P.E. teacher on — at Bayside and Elizabeth Berkley's character is the principal.
Hannah Goodin: It's gonna be awesome. I grew up on Saved by the Bell.
Jon Nelson: As did I. Bayside Tigers. Woo!
Hannah Goodin: Yes, I'm excited.
Jon Nelson: So we're looking forward to that. But we're also looking forward to catching up with Jason Strickland, the head coach of the top ranked Ware County Gators. He is our guest this week on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. He is in the middle of it all this week with us. But what is on your mind this week?
Hannah Goodin: Before we get to the whip-around of what happened on Friday, I got a little shout-out for my partner here.
Jon Nelson: And the partner behind the glass, if this is where you’re going.
Hannah Goodin: And the partner behind the glass. Jon won a GABBY award, everybody —
Jon Nelson: He did.
Hannah Goodin: For the beth — beths —
Jon Nelson: Beth.
Jon Nelson: Keep drinking that Nitro coffee, girl.
Hannah Goodin: I know, I've had two coffees. Best Sports Anchor in Large-Market Television. Our producer, Sean Powers, also won a GABBY for the Bither — Bitter Southerner at GPB.
Jon Nelson: Bither Thoutherner…
Hannah Goodin: I have a lisp today!
Jon Nelson: Stick to that — stick to that coffee. You’re not awake; stick to that coffee.
Hannah Goodin: I have a lisp today.
Jon Nelson: Get a third one before the show is over.
Hannah Goodin: Congratulations, guys. It is an honor working with you.
Jon Nelson: See, now this is where either Sean pipes in applause for all of us underneath and creates a separate audio channel underneath in the post-edit where the applause happens, or he inserts his own voice in here and thanks you for what you just said as well.
Hannah Goodin: Well, I did — I didn't say it spectacularly well. But congratulations, guys. It really is amazing working with you each week.
Jon Nelson: Yeah the Bitter Southerner version was their okra episode (say that ten times fast) the okra episode for Bitter Southerner. But no, it's — it's — it's a blast to come in here and work and to be with folks who just let you run and tell good stories and be yourself. And it's always — it's good to — it's good to be here. And since I've been here since, I think 1884 was my first year here in television. So it was, no it was it was good to get that, and —
Hannah Goodin: You're not being serious.
Jon Nelson: 1884 was when television was not invented, no. But this is my 26th season at Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Hannah Goodin: Wow….It's my fourth, so.
Jon Nelson: But no, it's — it's tremendous to win an award. Thanks to the Georgia Association of Broadcasters for their recognition of Sean and what he's doing on the podcast side of things. This is included as a part of that. And he puts up with us on a weekly basis. But his work with Bitter Southerner has been tremendous as well. But no, thanks to the GAB for the award. And when I do receive it here at 260 14th Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 30318, I'll post a picture.
Hannah Goodin: Awesome. Looking forward to that. You guys are the real deal. All right. Let's get to some of the games that happened on Friday and stick with me, because clearly I cannot speak today.
Jon Nelson: Sticking with you.
Hannah Goodin: So for the Football Friday in Georgia broadcast this past Friday, we were at the hornets' nest at Ray Manus Stadium, Cherokee versus Roswell. Quarterback Robbie Roper. I don't even know what to say about him. He was 10 for 17, passing for 191 yards and three TDs. He also overcame two interceptions. He was lights out. Ryan Hill also rushed for 82 yards and scored on a 3-yard run in the final minutes to break the 28-28 tie. I thought we were going into O.T., Jon, but Roswell won it 35-28.
Jon Nelson: Big win for Roswell in region play — and a lot of these early region games, when you see heavyweights go at it, they're the ones that kind of sit there and say, okay, well, the winner of this one gets the inside track for that No. 1 seed coming into the playoffs. And Roswell was one example of that. Caught up with Coach Shaw after the game for Cherokee. And he said "We played uncharacteristically poorly on defense in that game." I saw some things out there that I hadn't seen, but they're going to look to rebound and have a strong finish and try to get the two seed or have things happen if Roswell ends up stumbling along the way where they can get the one. But Roswell would have to lose twice if Cherokee ends up being a part of that discussion. So Coach Shaw and the Warriors are looking for the No. 2 seed right now out of the region.
Hannah Goodin: They will play 5 and 1 Milton on November 6th, and Cherokee will play at Etowah on Friday. All right, let's take a look around the rest of metro Atlanta area. No. 1 Cedar Grove took sole possession of first place in a region 5-AAA with a 33-6 win over No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian. Rashod Dubinion rushed for 178 yards and 4 touchdowns on 16 carries. Austin Smith was also 11 of 18, passing for 166 yards and a score. Then a heavyweight region 7-AAAAA matchup for No. 2 Blessed Trinity and No. 6 Calhoun. The Titans won 35-21 with help from Justice Haynes who rushed for — wait for it — wait for it — 331 yards, 5 touchdowns on 39 carries, and completed a 41-yard pass to his own quarterback, J.C. Fringe.
Jon Nelson: Mhmm.
Hannah Goodin: Outstanding. The game was tied 21-21 entering the fourth quarter when Haynes scored his final two touchdowns.
Jon Nelson: Well, and Calhoun had the early lead in that game, as we were talking about on Football Fridays, at the Reave, and the Reave is a traditionally very, very tough place to play. And Calhoun of the early lead B.T. came storming back and got the win. And yes, that Haynes is from the — the Georgia — University of Georgia Haynes playing tree, Verron Haynes, the tailback, the hobnailed boot reception.
Hannah Goodin: Oh yes —
Jon Nelson: That's his dad.
Hannah Goodin: Classic.
Jon Nelson: Verron Haynes stepped on — stepped — what was it? — stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose.
Hannah Goodin: Broke his nose.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, yeah. So that was — so that was — that's his dad, Verron Haynes, the guy who got that pass.
Hannah Goodin: One more around the metro Atlanta area. No. 6 Norcross defeated Mill Creek 23-20 in O.T. Jahni Clarke's 1-yard run in the second overtime was the game winner. Mason Kaplan was also 17 of 36, passing for 211 yards. Norcross did not allow Mill Creek’s offense to score a touchdown in regulation. That was another good one. Jon, what games did you have your eye on?
Jon Nelson: All of them. No. You go Ware and Coffee, which was one that we'll talk with Jason Strickland about coming up in just a bit. Ware got the duke, 24-14. Flowery Branch in North Oconee, another game that went into overtime. 42-35 there. Peach in Crisp with Brad Harber, the head coach of Crisp and Chad Campbell, the head coach of Peach County. Peach had a 14-nothing lead in this one. It was scoreless at the half. I think the first half took like 28 minutes. Come into the second half, Peach had a 14-nothing lead. Fourth quarter: Crisp storms back, scored to make it 14-13, didn't get the 2-point conversion at home at Cordele. And then Peach recovered the onside kick for the duke at 14-13, two of the teams that will be in the discussion at the end of it all in Triple-A along with Cedar Grove and GAC. Also on my board, two games that were 35-28, Toombs County beat Bacon in overtime, Dublin beat Wilcox in regulation. Wayne County and Veterans, Wayne won that one 10-7. River Ridge continues their great run, beating Creekview 20-17. That's just a small sample of the games that were on my board.
Hannah Goodin: Well, let's check in with coach Jason Strickland and see what's going on down there in Waycross.
Jon Nelson: Jason.
Jason Strickland: Yes, sir.
Jon Nelson: Congrats on the big win last Friday night. Run through it for us a little bit.
Jason Strickland: It was a lot of fun, number one. I thought our band and cheerleaders and ROTC folks just did an unbelievable job of creating, you know, a little bit of a college atmosphere, Jon. I don’t know, it was just a unique deal with all the pageantry. And you got two really good football teams that are very well coached and big rivals in small-town South Georgia. And it was just kind of one of those good ole South Georgia slobberknockers and, fortunately, we were able to make a couple plays at the end to pull it out. And our quarterback, Thomas Castellanos, really, really played exceptionally well. And we've got a really good linebacker, that's a Vanderbilt commit, that probably played his best game of the year, defensively. And that was going to be the — the case that we needed him to be. And then our kicker is a highly talented kid named Henry Bates. Just had an unbelievable job in the special teams department. And at the end of it, we were — we were able to kinda — be No. 1 in the region.
Hannah Goodin: With the win you become the ninth team in GHSA history to be a fifth-ranked — to beat five ranked teams in the regular season, if I can get that out, coach. What does that say about your team and what does that mean to you?
Jason Strickland: It means that whoever is in charge of scheduling is probably gonna be fired.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, you gotta talk to that guy.
Jason Strickland: You know, I think it says a lot. A couple of things: One, with our community. They want to see good football games. And they want to see us play a good competition. And so they kind of let that be known that they don't want what, you know, a lot of what we call “prescription games” on the schedule. And, you know, the other side of that, too, is I think our kids enjoy playing those games and they want each game to kinda be a big moment. And you get a situation like this year as well, where really kind of every Friday night is a blessing. You know, you want that — you want that blessing to be a big moment and some excitement and things that kind of get the community stirred up and, you know, for them to be able to win, now, that's kind of crazy. But, you know, we — we thought we got a pretty good football program coming in. We didn't know exactly how good we would be. But our guys have probably found a way to overcome a lot of bad coaching.
Jon Nelson: When it comes to this particular season, coach, how difficult has it been for you as a coach and for the staff down there at Ware county to coach in this current environment?
Jason Strickland: Well, you know, I think I heard, you know, Bill Belichick about two weeks ago make the statement that, you know, you used to kind of take time to take things week by week. And now it's not week by week. It's kinda hour by hour. And, you know, you've got it down in our area of athletic areas, the weight room and the gym and that sort of thing, you see an administrator walk down, you kind of hold your breath. Used to you felt like, you know, hey, men are coming to hang out, talk for a little bit, get away from kinda the academic setting for a little bit and just kind of see how we're doing. Now, usually that means we're coming to tell you hey, one of your kids have been tagged and quarantined or, you know, somebody’s tested positive, you know, whatever it is, or, hey, you know, somebody maybe telling them to cancel a game. And, yeah, it's just the emotional stress and the mental stress is — is much higher. And you try to guard your kids from that. And, you know, as for a long time as adults, we've kind of preached to our kids, you know, "Focus on the things that you can control." And now, I mean, we're having to prove that we can do that more so than — than ever. And, you know, it is a lot of stress, but, you know, it's why we keep reminding our guys that every time we get to walk out on the field Friday night, it is a true blessing.
Hannah Goodin: Well, your guys are certainly overcoming adversity well. You've got some big-time playmakers. Quarterback Thomas Castellanos was 21 of 34, passing for 295 yards and a couple TDs in the 24-14 win over Coffee. You also have wide receiver Brandon Mills; talk about them and what they mean to the team.
Jason Strickland: Well, you know, last year we got here so late our first year, it really took us the whole season just to kind of figure out who we were from an offensive standpoint. And after the season, we sat down and said, look, we've got us a special talent at quarterback and we're going to do something that Coach Strickland has never done. We're going to open this thing up and we're gonna throw the ball around all over the place. And, you know, I used to believe in a phrase that Buddy Nobles said all the time, which was, you know, in the Bible, you know, that the Lord says, "Lo, I am with you." Which meant — we took that as a — that means run the ball. "Keep the ball on the ground. I'll be with you," you know. So now we — we — we've changed that philosophy. And all that is because of this young man that we've got at the quarterback position. And we kinda met with as many folks as we could during the offseason and then all of a sudden, boom, COVID hits and we kind of get on Zoom clinics and all those type things. And we wanted to be able to showcase this young man's talents. And tip your hat to him, he took control of it and immersed himself to try to learn everything he could about it and has played out of his mind, really. And it's been — been a huge catalyst. Well, I've been impressed with Brandon about — and I think Friday was no doubt the best football game I've seen him play in high school. This is his third position this year. I mean, he started out at what we call a Z Receiver, and then we had a little bit of an injury. So we were going to move him to X and then our starting running back got hurt. And then we had, you know, kind of, another running back transfer. So all of a sudden, boom. We don't have a running back. And "Hey, Brandon, we need you to go to running back". And so he — he split time Fridays as a running back and as a receiver, led us in receptions, led us in rushing yardage, scored a touchdown. And it just kind of — you know, one of those stable guys that doesn't ever really get rattled that, you know, we could come to tomorrow and say, "Hey, Brandon, we probably gonna need you to play linebacker this week." And he’d say, “OK, Coach, if that’s what’s gonna take for us to win, I’ll be on board with it.”
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, 66 yards rushing and 85 yards receiving. So that's a pretty good game.
Jason Strickland: Yeah. And the other thing that doesn't go in there is, you know, the special teams he played and then, you know, the blocks that he made to try to give Thomas some extra time, fielding the football. And then just — when I say "the ultimate team guy," he is the ultimate team guy. And then went ahead on Friday night. What a — what a night to decide to, hey, I'm gonna play my best game in high school.
Jon Nelson: Jason Strickland, the head coach of the Ware County Gators, hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. When the region came out — when we had the rejiggerfying of classifications and regions and things like that — when your region of doom came out the way that it did, what was your initial reaction?
Jason Strickland: I mean a little shock, probably, you know, we just — it wasn't quite what we were expecting. And then, you know, it's kind of one of those deals; we met as a staff that day when it came out and said, you know, "Hey man, better get your big boy pants on," 'cause it's not a matter of “could you lose a game.” I mean if you — if you don't play well against one of these crowds, you're going to get embarrassed. And, you know, it's — you understand it's going to be a — a physical fight every Friday night. And, you know, you sit there and, you know, kind of — we've always been in regions where you felt pretty comfortable that you could make the playoffs. You didn't know exactly what seed you were going to be, but you felt like you could get in. And all of a sudden, you see this come out and you go, "Shoot, man, there's to be a really good football team that doesn't make the playoffs."
Jon Nelson: Uh-huh.
Jason Strickland: And, you know, now you begin work making sure that you're not one of them and you're like, well, we — we like where we live and we like the vehicles we drive. We like the house that we're in. We better figure out a way to win some football games in this region.
Hannah Goodin: Well, speaking of tough region matchups, you've got one on Friday against Warner Robins. It'll be on the road, they’re 5 and 1, their only loss being to Valdosta. What's it going to take to get a W in that one?
Jason Strickland: Well, well check that, now. They wound up getting the win to Valdosta off a forfeit, their loss was to Lee County.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, OK, OK.
Jason Strickland: Either way, neither one of those are anything to be ashamed of. But, you know, it's one of those deals. When you — when you turn the film on, quickly you figure out what the hype is all about. And why they played in a couple state championships in a row and Coach Westbrook just does an unbelievable job. And when you — I mean — the thing that sticks out initially is them on defense with Vic Burley at the defensive end spot. It’s an Alabama offer guy, an LSU offer guy, he’s 6'5", he's 250 pounds. Started off at the defensive line as a freshman. Now I can't imagine in my mind a freshman starting a defensive line for a team that was playing the state championship. That's crazy. And — and then you turn the film on and you go: "Oh, OK. This is — this is why they start you." And then Ahmad Walker, who I think, you know, if you — if you go back and look at all of the state championship games last year, we've seen them multiple times, I thought Ahmad Walker looked like, the best football player that weekend of any classification. I mean, just I mean, he gave Buford fits the whole game and — just an incredible, incredible football player. And what — what you see is they do such a tremendous job of either creating turnovers or creating three and outs, big special teams plays where they create a short field for their offense to come out. And oh, by the way, the offense is led by a guy named Jalen Addie, who's in his second year, that's a heck of a player himself. And then, you know, you got Jalen Rutherford in the running back spot, that there are just two outstanding players and they just create so many mismatches for everybody they play. But we've got to find a way to — to, you know, get a couple of first downs and get their offense having to drop yards because they just hadn’t had to go very far this whole year.
Jon Nelson: You mentioned Buddy Nobles, and I wanted to get into that a little bit. When I mentioned that name to you, what comes to mind?
Jason Strickland: An inspiration, really. I mean it kinda, the way I get chills just now, Jon, when — when we talk about it. Buddy was such a humble person. And — such a guy that understood his platform and the power of his platform and the importance of it, and maybe more so than anybody I've ever known. And he never wavered from what his purpose was every day as a football coach. And he truly believed it was to carry people in his footsteps and — and show them, you know, the right way to do things. And he was a guy that was very strong in his faith and was not very bashful about it, and he didn't necessarily — he wouldn't get mad with you if you disagreed with him, but he wasn’t gonna — he wasn’t gonna be bashful about his faith and the things that he believed in. And he wasn’t gonna be bashful about the way he coached and the message that he tried to spread. And that's powerful in today's time. And, when you — when you — maybe the best thing about Buddy that I could say in — especially in our world today — is he was just kind. You know, in a — in a world that's just kind of gotten a little bit mean — he was just — he was just a kind guy that would do anything in the world for anybody. And, you know what? You just hope that whenever my time comes, or your time comes and they’re, you know, gonna throw some dirt on us, that — I hope that people are able to talk about me a little bit the way they talk about Coach Nobles, because it's just an incredible life, an incredible father, an incredible husband and, man, one heck of a coach that impacted a lot of people. That name is going to be having stories told about for a long, long time.
Jon Nelson: When you mentioned Buddy, obviously there's the time he spent in Florida. There's the time he spent at Fitzgerald. There's the time he spent over in Douglas, and then his time in his Ocilla, all great football places. You've been the same way with your time in a lot of different places. You know, Blackshear and all the places where you intersected with Buddy there in south Georgia as well. With your time now in Waycross, what does football mean to everybody there? And what are people missing by not seeing a game involving Ware County either at Veterans or with the team that you're with?
Jason Strickland: Well, you know, one of the things that I'd say is this community reminds me a lot of Fitzgerald when we were at Fitzgerald. And they're very passionate about — about football. And, you know, like the Braves were in the NLCS. I'm not sure that anybody in Waycross knew that. Yeah, it was just — they — but they know who our backup quarterback is. And, you know, they — they know who our possible third-round matchup players are in the playoffs. I mean, it's just — they all are fanatic about high school football and we get calls all the time. You know, we had one of our linebackers pulled a hamstring two weeks ago and I probably got 30 calls last week leading into the Coffee game and wanting to know how Rodney was. Was he gonna be able to play, what was the story. How's the hamstring doing? I'd stop and get gas and somebody’d wanna come over and ask how Rodney’s hamstring — I mean, just on and on and on. It is a — it is a unique place in the fact that they really surround themselves passionately around this golden gym that’s called Memorial Stadium here, that Babe Ruth at some point hit a home run. Yeah. You know, it's just kind of the cornerstone of our community. And I think in a lot of smaller towns, the high school, the school system itself is — is kind of the cornerstone. But I think more so here it's this football program and that stadium and how important it is, you know. They wait all year long for this unique group of young men to roll out with these jerseys that’s got Ware County Gators on the front of it, and they get so excited. We’re led into a home game every Friday by a gigantic parade. And I mean parade. I don't mean like a two-cops escort deal. I mean, it's a — it's a parade over to our stadium. And when we get there, there's a thousand people waiting on us to get off the buses. I mean, it's just a — it is a unique situation. And, you know, the thing that I remind our guys this year is I think this community has waited a long time for a group of young men to put those jerseys on like what we've got right now. And, you know, it's — it — it makes every Friday night seem like a big, big deal. If you ask our kids, you know, why is Friday night a big game? And they'll say and they've said it for a long time: It's a big deal because the Gators are playing. And I think that — that's something that resonates within our whole community.
Hannah Goodin: Coach Strickland, the way you describe high school football is the reason that Jon and I are sitting here on this podcast. It's the reason why we love covering it, why we love being involved in Football Fridays here at GPB. It is so outstanding. And I'm sure your community has memorized your roster back and forth. Well, what we do on our new show we've got called Recruiting 2020, we “Make that Kid an Offer!” And is there somebody on your roster that is overlooked that you think needs to be featured on “Make that Kid an Offer”?
Jason Strickland: Our center is a kid named Tyler Nipper and we don’t make any secrets — last year, as a football pool, we were — we were not bad as an offensive line — You know, if we say we had a bad offensive line, that's really a disservice to folks who had a bad offensive line. We were — we were horrible on the offensive line. And Tyler was our starting center last year. Battled, did all the things that we could ask him to do, we were just not very gifted up front. But this offseason, he made a point that we were going to be very good on our offensive line. And he kind of became that voice and the leader of that group and worked his tail off. And now what he’s done is he's made sure — and held everybody else accountable on that offensive line — to make sure that they're working as hard, and playing as hard, and practicing as hard. And there's no question, he's — he's kind of one of our unsung heroes, maybe the unsung hero of our whole football program.
Jon Nelson: Jason Strickland, the head coach of the Wake County Gators. Jason, as always, it's great to catch up with you, my friend. I love you very much. And we will catch up with you down the line. Thanks for being a part of the Football Friday in Georgia podcast here at GPB.
Jason Strickland: Love you guys, man. Thank you all for what y'all do. Big time.
Hannah Goodin: Jon, I had full chills when Coach Strickland was describing football. That is the epitome of why I made this my career.
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: I mean —
Jon Nelson: Well, and — and that's why when we have all of these different coaches on, that's why I like to ask the question about community, because I know that there are only a certain number of games that we can either watch or be at on any given Friday and then also on a certain number of places we can be in any given season. So when we have a Brad Harber on from Crisp, we get to find out about Cordele. When we have Jason Strickland on, we can talk — find out about Waycross. All of these different places and all these different coaches, you know, Justin Rogers and me, we had him on talking about what — what it's like in Moultrie. There's, you know, there's a lot out there. And for a lot of us to see and to be able to ask these coaches what it's like in those towns and what it means to those towns when, yeah, the sidewalks roll up at 3:30 or 4 o'clock and everybody closes businesses and everybody heads over the football stadium and that kind of thing under normal years. And I know it's different this year. But just how regardless of when we're talking about, how these communities wrap themselves around these teams and around these players and around their successes, because it's a part of pride in each of these communities about how well they do, it's about stuff that they talk about with their friends on Saturday morning: "Yeah, our team did this. What did your team do?" And then it's all about the good-natured ribbing between friends and among friends and things like that. But naw, that’s why I always like to ask that question because there's only a certain number of places we can be in a certain number of places we can be in a season then when we can ask these coaches what it's like in those towns; that's why I think it's really special.
Hannah Goodin: And there's only a certain amount of teams that we can cover on Football Fridays in Georgia on GPB, and I certainly miss dearly being on the sidelines and being able to meet the, you know, fans down there and talk to the community. And that's always, you know, the best part is getting to know people and people come up to you and they want to chat. I love talking football. So this week, we are headed to the Hill to cover North Gwinnett versus Collins Hill. Both teams are 5 and 2. The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week. The Eagles just defeated Peachtree Ridge 42-7. This game will likely decide the region 8-AAAAAAA title. So I'm looking forward to watching these two loaded Suwanee teams clash on Friday, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, and the early loss by North Gwinnett to Lovejoy, I think, sat there and raised some eyebrows for some folks in Gwinnett County about what North Gwinnett was up to this year. But they've — they've found themselves, they're — they're getting to full song as you're getting into region play. And it's been a while since we've done material with Collins Hill. There was a quarterback they had a couple years ago, Taylor Heinicke, who was setting state records and went to Old Dominion and set records there. And now he's getting cups of coffee in the National Football League. And so it'll be good to catch up with everybody at the Hill. The first time we've done a game from the Hill in the Football Fridays in Georgia dossier. So it'll be good to catch up with folks up there in Gwinnett County on Friday night and be at a place we've never been before.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, the theme of this season and what we're trying to do, if you haven't caught on, is we're trying to cover teams we haven't covered in a really long time or cover teams for the first time. So we're trying to expand our horizons and we're listening to you guys and what teams you want — you want on-air. And so we're doing our best.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, one other game that caught both of our eyes last week: the Athens Academy, Prince Avenue Christian game.
Hannah Goodin: Yes.
Jon Nelson: The one touchdown for Athens Academy came from someone that you had discussions with in the past, Mr. Colzie. And it was good to see Deion get a 70-yarder and that made it 21-7. But it was Prince Avenue Christian, 41-7 big winners last week in that battle of 1 versus 2.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, that was a really good one. And I know we wanted to cover that one.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Yeah, there were — there were some folks that wanted us to go up and cover that one. And it was definitely a part of our discussions. And there's a quarterback at Prince Avenue Christian who last time I heard is OK.
Hannah Goodin: I think he's doing all right. Brock Vandagriff, I am talking to him today on Zoom. That will be my interview for Recruiting 2020 if you guys have been keeping up with that. It's a brand new show that comes out at 7 p.m. on Fridays right before the Football Friday in Georgia broadcast. It also comes on directly following. So around 11:00, 11:00-ish…
Jon Nelson: Yeah, 11:00.
Hannah Goodin: So —
Jon Nelson: So if you're — if you're at your game and you missed a GPB sports Recruiting 2020 presented by our friends at Express, you get to watch it after our game is over, then you get to watch Recruiting 2020, then you get to watch our game again. So it's a full Football Friday with us.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. My interview last week was Amarius Mims at Bleckley County, and he told me that Brock was the one who convinced him to go to Georgia. So that is going to be one of my first questions for him.
Jon Nelson: OK. So I see the synergy here. So you're going to ask Brock about fishing now, too?
Hannah Goodin: Well, I mean, they bonded over catfishing. I gotta ask.
Jon Nelson: Okay, so that is what Hannah has plotted for Recruiting 2020. And you'll see that Friday night at 7:00. Once again, North Gwinnett and Collins Hill. After that is completed, about 7:37 will be your kick. Our coverage will start at 7:30 with Matt, Stewart, Wayne, Andy, Hannah and myself. That is it for another round of Football Fridays in Georgia podcast, presented at Georgia Public Broadcasting and GPB Media. It is produced by the award-winning and irreplaceable — See, now I'm finishing up and I can't come up with a word — the award-winning and irreplaceable. The award-winning and irreplaceable Sean Powers for everybody here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. I'm Jon. That's Hannah. Play it safe, everybody. Enjoy the game.
Transcript by Eva Rothenberg