Ware County Coach Jason Strickland and Star Player Thomas Castellanos

Ware County Head Coach Jason Strickland and Star Quarterback Thomas Castellanos

Credit: GPB Sports

GPB Sports' Jon Nelson and Hannah Goodin are back with this week's edition of The Football Fridays In Georgia podcast. This week they talk with Ware County Coach Jason Strickland about his star quarterback Thomas Castellanos and his community's deep passion for high school football. 



Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays In Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Jon is here. Hanna is over there we have a Commander Sandy and Jahi the Magnificent behind the glass. As always, you'll be hearing from them all season long and think for those who watch us on the YouTube channel,.

Hannah Goodin: Which has been once.

Jon Nelson: Yeah. For for those who started watching us that way, just to see how things are made here on a weekly basis. Things are a little different. Yes, that is true. Things are slightly different here in the studio this week. I'm off to the side and Hannah has the point of the arrow this week. So why did why did we decide this?

Hannah Goodin: I really am very a non-confrontational person. I am not difficult. (Jon Laughs) I'm not. I'm not. I've made a few requests today, though.

Jon Nelson: I have a request.

Hannah Goodin: I have a request. So, with the video stuff and the two shot where Jon sitting, you can, you know, kind of see the side and see your your body. Well, we're pregnant with our first.

Jon Nelson: We're pregnant!

Hannah Goodin: Not me and you, Jon! My husband and I, who's also named John, are pregnant with our first children, plural, identical twin girls. And I didn't want to be on the side. I didn't you know, the belly is getting bigger, we're about halfway, which is going to be interesting for the football season. And so, I made Jon sit in the other seat. Thank you, Jon.

Jon Nelson: This is this, this is a championships twin.

Hannah Goodin: Yes, these will be championship babies. So, if you don't see me on the air December, what is it, 10th through the 12th.

Jon Nelson: The second, the week weekend after the SEC championship the 9th, 10th or whatever.

Hannah Goodin: Got it written down somewhere. December 9th through 11th if you see me because I've got some championship twins. Yes. So, if it was one baby we would have made it. But it just, we got blessed with two. We're really excited do in Christmas so any time before. But that's why, that's why that we look we look different.

Jon Nelson: That's why we have positions here this week. And that's why it'll be like this until Hannah decides that she wants to change it again. And then we'll just swap it back.

Hannah Goodin: I just didn't think everybody would want to see that, you know? Well, sit over here.

Jon Nelson: OK? Yeah. So, you're over there. I'm over here. And our guest this week is who are we?

Hannah Goodin: We have an awesome guest this week, Jason Strickland, Ware County head coach. Before we get to that, though, yes. Speaking of southern swing, yes, you have been on the road. Tell folks what you've been doing, who you've been talking to.

Jon Nelson It was central swing. And they basically it's like, OK. Our sports director, Kevin Gerke was like, all right, you got thirty-six hours. What do you want to do? And it's like, OK, so what I'll do is I'll go down to the central part of the state. Let's see if I can name who it was. Mary Persons', Crawford County, Peach County, New High School. I think it's nine figures to the left of the decimal place to create, to build this. Built it during the covid break. And so, there was no difficulty in the transition of getting folks to the new high school. Beautiful new facility on Peach Parkway. I caught up with Coach Chad Campbell. Let's see then. Day two was Perry, Houston County Veterans, Bleckley, Warner Robins, North Side. Did I forget anybody? Kevin Smith wanted to go at ten o'clock. And I said, OK, so you go you go at ten. I left the hotel, went to Perry, Perry, Cochran, Veterans, Houston County. Yeah. And then the blue school. The red school and then the blue school. So yeah, that was that. And then brought brought a bunch of helmets for the set. Nice. Oh yeah. Have brought seven helmets back and thanks to all the schools who helped us out with the construction there and there. I think they're hiding in sports director Kevin Gerke's office right now.

Hannah Goodin: Awesome. We'll have to put those out on display on the Countdown To Kickoff this Thursday at noon.

Jon Nelson: Where can folks see that?

Hannah Goodin: Thursday live Facebook. Facebook, live noon. Yeah. See you there.

Jon Nelson: There you go.

Hannah Goodin: Quick plug.

Jon Nelson: There you go.

Hannah Goodin: Ahh.. who'd you talk to? Who would you talk to? Who were some of your favorite interviews? What are the coaches saying?

Jon Nelson: All the coaches are great to catch up with for one reason or another. And one of our favorite coaches, Brad Harbor.

Hannah Goodin: Oh, love Coach Harbor!

Jon Nelson: He is now one of the assistant coaches at Bleckley County in Cochran.

Hannah Goodin: Did he have a message for me? Did he say, tell Hannah hi. Anything?

Jon Nelson: Here's what happened with Brad Harbor.

Hannah Goodin: Oh man.

Jon Nelson: Just to give you an idea, I go in and I have my interview with Von Lassiter in the coach's office. And so, you know, we're talking and everything. Doors are closed, shades are drawn. You hear this? (makes knocking sound on the table)

Hannah Goodin: Ouch.

Jon Nelson: Coach Lassiter!

Hannah Goodin: Now you've blown everyone else's ears out.

Jon Nelson: Guess who that was?

Jon Nelson: That was that was that was Coach Harbor. Oh, and so he, he's so he's knocking on the door in the middle of the interview. So, when you listen you'll hear, you'll hear a knocking on the door and you'll hear that, you'll hear, "Coach Lassiter!" That was Brad.

Hannah Goodin: Nice.

Jon Nelson: He forgot his he forgot his phone, had to go home, get his phone and come back to campus. I had a soda for him to give to him.

Hannah Goodin: So coach Harbor.

Jon Nelson: And so I ended up leaving it on his desk and I said, "so you forget your phone when I come to campus here enjoy this." And so, he texted me after that, so that was fun. Caught up with Coach Westbrook, Coach Alligood, caught up with Coach Crawford at Houston County, caught up with Milan Turner, who is one of the mates with Warner Robins Coach Westbrook. So, a lot of the 1-5A guys, we caught up with them and it was good to catch up with everybody in in the Houston County area and over in Cochran.

Hannah Goodin: OK, so that was central swing. You head on the road for southern swing...

Jon Nelson: Weather permitting next week.

Hannah Goodin: Oh, OK. You were supposed to be on the road today. So happy to have you here.

Jon Nelson: Tropical Storm Fred kind of got in the way.

Hannah Goodin: So you're leaving Monday?

Jon Nelson: In theory. Yes, weather permitting. And so that's where we will catch up with folks in the region of doom in single A and the region of doom in 7A. A lot of the wire grass, 1-5A. Folks going up the coast. Catch up with some folks that way. Come back this way, catch up with Sandersville, Washington County whose put in a request.

Hannah Goodin: What's the request?

Jon Nelson: To come say hi.

Hannah Goodin: Yes.

Jon Nelson: And they have a great recruiting story that we can catch up with them with as well. So, in Dublin and all the points in between. So in theory, weather permitting, southern swing next week.

Hannah Goodin: OK, so you'll be on the road next Monday for the podcast.

Jon Nelson: Yes, I'll probably be doing it from a laptop in a van.

Hannah Goodin: All right. I guess I'll hold down the fort. Yes. Here at the head of the table,

Jon Nelson: Yes. You can choose your seat next week and not and not sit there and worry about it. Great. You'll be right there on point and I'll be on Opal software on a laptop in a van next week when we're doing the show.

Hannah Goodin: All right. Well, let's get to our interview. We talked to Coach Jason Strickland, out of Ware County.  He had a lot of really great things to say.

Jon Nelson: So, coach, my first question for you is, what was it like to have as normal a spring and summer to get ready for 2021 as possible?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: A lot of fun Jon. Probably the biggest thing, just a breath of fresh air. Maybe maybe the way I describe it. Just a lot, a lot of fun. And you kind of add to it, you know, our baseball team made a deep run play in the semifinals. So, you know, we kind of mirrored that up with spring football out there. And it was just it just a great ending to our school year with, you know, with just a lot of things that we're going on. And and then we got a lot of, you know, a lot of energy kind of spilling over into the summer because of it.

Hannah Goodin: Definitely a breath of fresh air from what South Georgia went through last year, school closures, Covid. What did you learn about yourself as a coach going through last fall?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, I mean, the biggest thing is you, you know, understanding that if you're not able to adapt and adjust to change and change being every five minutes, really, then this world is just not going to be very long for you. I mean it just it is what it is. And, you know, we have preached to our kids for years and years and years about them being able to adjust and adapt and those sorts of things. But there are a lot of times we found our self, you know, as adults, we don't like that. You know, people live in the same house for 30 years and they travel the same way to work their whole career. And, you know, this is what I'm doing on Saturday morning is what I'm doing on Sunday afternoon. And then all of a sudden things change. And, you know, we don't like that. But what it showed and prove to us is that we have to live by the words that we speak, which is we have to be willing to adjust and adapt to change and I think it righted the ship for us on our coaching staff to make sure that that we're doing the same thing. We're actually walking the walk.

Jon Nelson: And in talking to coaches all around the state, one of the things that I've learned in my conversations is that coaches have kind of had to adapt and change to all of this. And it's almost to the point to where now you're talking to your student athletes and if there's something if they're not feeling right, if if they're not feeling well, let me know from home that you're not feeling well. Don't don't come here to campus and let me know because of the consequences that are there. You have to be somewhat prescient in all of this stuff. Tell me the stuff ahead of time so we can all be OK.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, and that's a huge change, Jon, because it wasn't long ago, if you were bleeding out of your eyeballs, I mean, we were saying get your butt to practice. You may not be able to go but you need to be here with your group or you need to be in a position meeting and you need to be paying attention to what's going on, on the grass and all that sort of thing. But you're right now it's back to a situation of, look, if you've got the sniffles or an upset stomach or you hit, feel like let us know. But you don't need to come to school today and stay home. And and, you know, let's let's see, you know, what this thing may be and certainly don't don't create a problem that we can't overcome. And that's that is just, I think for a lot of coaches, that's probably as difficult a thing for them to overcome as anything just because we have always talked and preached. I don't care if a bone is sticking out of your leg. We need to be practice learning.

Hannah Goodin: Sounds about right. Last question on COVID before moving along. What are the policies in South Georgia, especially your school? What do you guys do in any regulations? Are things wide open? What's it looking like?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, I mean, right now from a school setting, we're closed. We're athletic and everything is still on. But our deal has been. Kind of our school personnel has gotten hit pretty good. So, it's not a, you know, obviously we've had some things of that sort, but. It's what me and our athletic trainer we're talking about this morning, if you ride by a restaurant that has closed, it's not because they want it closed. It's not because the personnel in there is not available to be able to make the restaurant run. That's why they're closed and they're going to open up as soon as I get the personnel back. Well, that's kind of what's happened with us, because that's some teachers and nurses and things in our system that have been out, whether it's quarantining or positive test. And, you know, so it's. It just kind of put our administrators in just a tough, tough situation and everybody's trying to find the pandemic handbook to see exactly what decisions you need to make.

Hannah Goodin: You mean, you don't have one of those?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: No, not that I know of. I can't imagine being an administrator in this situation having like some decision making. But, you know, here's the thing I'll say, and this is solely where we are in Waycross, Georgia in Ware County. Our leadership is trying their best on the information that they have to make the absolute best decisions for our school system, our teachers, our kids, our community. And at the end of the day, that's really all they can go by. And I appreciate them for what they're trying to do and how open they are with our with our school system about the decisions that are trying to make. And we're going to fully support them as they tell us, whatever they got to, whatever we got to do, if they're going to let us play, support it when they put out there.

Jon Nelson: Obviously, a good season by Ware County standards in 2020. Obviously, expectations are very high in 2021. When you look at this 2021 season, I know a lot of folks are gravitating toward someone who last time I checked is a pretty good quarterback in Thomas Castellanos.

Jon Nelson: Yeah, you might, you might have heard of him. Here's my first question involving 2021. Do you remember the first day you saw Thomas at quarterback there on campus? And what do you remember about that day?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Just a big infectious smile. You know, he immediately came over and, you know, dapped me up, and, you know, wanted to introduce himself as if I didn't know who he was. (Jon laughs) You know, it's kind of one of those things. Immediately you tell the coaches and news guys that this is the guy we need to know here. Now, let's let's get to know this one really well. But just that smile, you know, and it's kind of funny, Jon, you know, the AJC came down a couple of weeks ago with the, with the Super Eleven stuff and doing his photo shoot. They're trying to get him to make all these mean faces, you know, just your grittiness team.

Jon Nelson: Not happening is it (laughing).

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: You know, he doesn't have it. It just does not have that.

Hannah Goodin: That's all right.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: He's always smiling. He's got this big old, you know, beautiful hair that I wish I had.

Jon Nelson: Me and you both brother.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: But every girl in our school just absolutely loves all that hair. And he's just got this big, old, beautiful smile that when he walks into a room he takes over. And that's exactly what he did. The first time I met.

Hannah Goodin: Well, on the field he is a four-year starter. He's passed for five thousand ninety-seven yards, rushed for two thousand seven hundred thirteen yards in his career, passed for twenty-three touchdowns, ran for 24 in the 10-2 season last year, led you guys to the quarterfinals, committed to central Florida. So, with that resume being said, I guess, what are your expectations for him this season and and what have you how have you seen him grow into a leadership position?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, that's probably the biggest thing, I think, in the last couple of years. He's just kind of played. You know, we've had some good leadership on our team with Michael Mincey and some of those guys, you know, Jimmy Butler's of the world and Jalen Melvin's and guys that graduated last year, Tyler Nipper. He was a leader from the quarterback position because of energy. I mean, he is a very, very energetic guy. And that's kind of hard. Now, this year, it's been more from an accountability standpoint and he's been willing to take control of that and own it. And I think, you know, getting as close as we did last year. We lost by three points to Cartersville. We lost by three points to Warner Robins. He knows that we were close. And, you know, a couple of plays here, there, and we're playing that last weekend. And the other thing is he knows that this is his last shot to try to do something really, really special and hasn’t been done at Ware County high school. The thing that I try to temper everybody with is we've got to be more than good. And everybody's heard me say that a thousand times. He is going to play exceptional. My challenge to it was don't get bored, because I think a lot of things do come easy to him and just don't don't get bored with kind of the everyday process of trying to get better and get get your teammates better. But the other side of that, too, is I try to remind our our community, I think when he runs out there, they see a 24-year-old young man that has played forever and do all kind of magic on a football field because he has started every snap as a quarterback since he's been in high school. But, you know, you try to remind him, you know, this is still a teenager here and there's going to be moments out here where he does things that just blow your mind, how he could get out of trouble and then throw a touchdown pass and sprint for 60 yards for a touchdown. And there's a couple other times he looks like a teenager and but I know this when we line up and we play whoever we're going to play, as long as he's kind of standing back behind the center, we feel pretty good that we got a shot.

Jon Nelson: What else does he need to work on other than perhaps, you know, you mentioned him staying engaged and not getting bored with his senior season or what's going on around him, what else do you think he needs to work on to get ready for the next level?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, I just think mechanically he still has a lot of things that he can get better at. And he's a football junkie, Jon. I mean, it's just I tell people all the time, he's a guy I've got to remind a lot of times we get on a bus after a game. He's immediately trying to pull up next week's game. And and, you know, it's one of those things that, you know, it's almost like a coaching mentality that, you know, we the losses hurt much more than the wins feel good.

Jon Nelson: Right.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: And that's what I'm trying to guard him from that because winning is so hard and especially with the folks that are on our schedule. I mean, you need to take a few minutes as a teenager and realize, man, we just put a lot of work and we just won a big game and enjoy it some. I'm trying to make sure he doesn't lose focus of that. But but his mechanics, he can still get a lot better. He'll have 20 plays in a row where mechanically he is as beautiful as anything else, you know, or five plays in a row where it kind of there's a break down here, there. And he knows that and that stuff that he's working harder at, getting better and more consistent. But probably the biggest thing for him is he, you know, everybody on the field is not as good as him and that he plays with and he's got some really talented players, but he's just a rare breed and making sure that he understands, he can not get board. I know you know, this stuff, but this guy over here does not. So, we've got to take a little time out here, make sure he gets it. And you can't lose focus here with that.

Hannah Goodin: Well, I'm sure you'll be hearing from me throughout the season trying to track him down on a Zoom interview for Recruiting 2021 shows. I'm just going to go ahead and throw that out there. Don't be surprised.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: That won't be a problem.

Hannah Goodin: Let's talk about some of those guys around him who are some of the other standouts on your team and what are your expectations?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, the best kept secret, I think, in the state of Georgia, is a kid named Cartevious Norton, that's a running back that plays place with him and the two of them, unfortunately, he's a senior as well. But Cartevious broke his collarbone the first game of the season last year and missed, you know, ninety percent of the season came came back late, late, late, late. He's got an offer from Iowa State and South Florida and has some other ones that are coming in. But was down at South Florida and they're brand new turf indoor, which if you've ever run on something like that, running in a sponge and Cartevious was was electronically timed in a 4.52 down there. So, he's a kid that's 5'11', 215 pounds, catches the ball really well. You know, the thing I tell Cartevious all the time, you know, the thing that I appreciate the most about is how consistent you are. You are the same guy every single day. And just, you know, just a pleasure a pleasure to to coach. And he's going to have a breakout year. I mean, this is going to be kind of one of those banner year’s for him. On the defense side of the football. You know, this is Michael Mincey's, younger brother is a kid named Trey Hardwell.

Jon Nelson: How many Mincey's do they have playing for you at Ware County? 

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Not enough. We need some more. I tell you,

Hannah Goodin: I hear that last name every year,

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland If you come from that gene, you're a heck of a player in this part of the state. But Trey is, he fits today's game very well. He's long. He's athletic. He can run. He's, you know, highly, highly intelligent being one of those 4.0 guys. And he's just a junior, thank goodness, but he's got a bright, bright future ahead of him. But Malik Mitchell and Demetrius Baldwin, two defensive linemen, that or you're playing exceptionally well for us and we're expecting humongous things for those guys. Big, strong, athletic kids, both, you know high, high GPA, type guys. And so we're you know, they're going to have to, those three guys anchor are going to anchor that defense and kind of going back to the offense out of the football. We've got two seniors that have kind of played forever with with Cartevious and Thomas as well, Dakari Coachman and James Daniels. Those guys are going to have to have big electric years out on the perimeter for us to be the type of offense that we want to be. And so far, they've shown us all the signs that we need to from those guys.

Jon Nelson: So then let me go to the next level. On our Recruiting 2021 show, we've got a segment that we petition to the entire state of Georgia called Make That Kid an Offer. And it's for the underappreciated, the underrated, the overlooked, the understarred. If you believe in the star system of one through five when it comes to recruits, is there someone on that level that plays for you that you would like to sit there and wave your hand in the air and sit there and go make this kid an offer?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, Malik Mitchell will be that guy. I mean, he's he will be that guy is not a highly recruited guy right now, but he's going to be one of those guys that is going to be a steal for somebody to get on campus. And he's like I said, he's going to be a high, high GPA athlete, five-three-six GPA. You know, he's a he's a six foot, 280 pound kid. You know, we were talking in our staff meeting this morning as we kind of go through defensive linemen. And one of the things I love to hear coaches say is say, hey, coach, you realized he played running back and middle school. Because that lets me know let's me know that kid is pretty doggone athletic. Yeah, that's kind of how it was. Malick played played running back up until his sophomore year at Ware County. And then we put his hand on the ground as a defensive lineman. So, he's just crazy, crazy, athletic, crazy, crazy smart. A three hundred twenty five pound power cleaner. That's the kid that somebody better make an offer to because he is going to be electric at the next level.

Hannah Goodin: I'm writing this kid's name down.

Jon Nelson: She's typing as you're talking.

Hannah Goodin: And we're going to keep our eye out for all for all these kids. All right. Let's take a look at your schedule. First game on the road versus Cook. What do you like about your schedule? What do you not like? What do you got looking forward to?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: I don't like a lot of the names on the schedule, but what I do like is it's going to be an opportunity for us to really get tested before we get in the region play. Cook, don't know a lot about them this year. I had a very short scrimmage Friday night, but I know the history there is that they're long and athletic, very physical they were last year when we played them. Tremendous in the defensive box and a little bit of film we've got on now appears that same way. And then, you know, you start talking about the following week, our home opener against Bartram Trail out of Florida. A third or fourth ranked team in 8A down there. And everything that we're hearing from those guys, they are absolutely loaded defensively and getting ready to make another big run in 8A. So, we'll have our hands full. And then you start talking about, you know, the physicality of the schedule. Thompson and Baldwin are both going to be very, very physical, Benedictine and Bainbridge on the road back-to-back weeks,.

Jon Nelson: Go to Bainbridge, go to Benedictine.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Back-to-back weeks. So that'll be kind of like a playoff mindset of making these long road trips. Both those cats were in the semifinals last year. You know, I know what Danny has done for a long time over at Benedictine and Holden, their quarterback is poised for another gigantic year. And then, you know, Bainbridge is just so doggone physical and fast and, you know, just kind of they bruise your soul when they when you play them. We came out of that thing with a win last year. But I mean, I think I think everybody, our water boys and our coach staff, everybody was in an ice tub after we got to play in that game. And then, you know, all of a sudden you take a little break and here comes Coffee and Warner Robins back-to-back to introducing you into region play.

Jon Nelson: What's it like being in a region that is a sprint? Because you mention your non region schedule that season one that we all talk about, which you hope gets you ready for season two after your soul has been bruised by Benedictine and Bainbridge, and then you're in a region of only five teams. One of you who really could make a run in the playoffs if they were allowed in is going to be at home because you're looking Coffee, Warner Robins, Veterans, Wayne, and you. What's it like being in a mini region where every game is amplified?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, that's the thing, the reality being, it's always in the back of your mind, if we lose a game, it could mean we don't make the playoffs. And just kind of the way this thing is set up and we look at it, last year, Veterans didn't make the playoffs. They play Jones County during in the regular season and mercy ruled Jones County, who won their region. You know, Wayne made the playoffs is our fourth seed because they kicked a field goal right at the end of the game to beat Veterans and they go up and play Jones in the first round and fumble going into the end zone on the last play of the game to beat Jones. So, I mean, it's just one of those things of like, good grief, guys can can you just put, I mean, I don't know, add one more juggernaut to this thing and see if we can ...

Jon Nelson: Please, turn us into a super region where we really are in trouble.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: I mean, the thing that that I talk about, about this region. It is fun. It really is. And and the coaching staff get along so well. And I think we learn from each other. I mean, I like, you know, Coach Westbrook had been so close with that Warner Robins team of the last couple of years and just finding a way to not get complacent or not get frustrated by losing some heartbreaker in the state championship and then breaking through last year. You know, the thing that, you know, probably to me is the most profound with this region is the coaching staff and the history of these programs and the coaching staff they put together. I mean, you're not going to go trick Robbie Pruitt. No, it's just not going to do it. So don't don't don't even try. I mean, you've got to you're not going to trick Milan Turner and it's just not going to take place. So, you got to find a way to out execute the guys they're going put on the field somehow. And that means by having a great week of practice and put together multiple, multiple weeks, of great practice. And the reality being and you've got to put yourself in the mirror, because if you're not having those those great practices, the reality is it's not that they'll just beat you. These crowds will embarrass you if you don't show up to play and it makes you coach and play at the highest level to be able to stay on the field with them.

Hannah Goodin: With all that being said, I feel like it's appropriate to steal one of John's favorite question. Here we go. What what does football mean to Ware County?

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Well, you know, I'll go back to I did an interview with Chris Parker, the athletic director at Pickens, earlier in the summer, and handled probably the best way. The best thing I could describe with is, is, you know, the Braves played in the NLCS last year. And I'm not certain that anybody in Ware County knew that. I don't know. Maybe they did. But everybody in Ware County knows who are third or fourth string quarterback, if they know all of that, it does not fail. When I stop at a gas station, somebody comes up to ask me a question about football and it's not a, hey, who is so and so and so. They're going to ask me, hey, coach, how is Jamarieo Barkley doing at practice? Coach, how is Jarvis Hayes doing in practice? But they know all 153 guys on the roster. They know them and they can tell me, you know, yeah, his uncle played wide receiver, was an all-state guy back and, you know, some and so and so and so. So, they know those guys. It's a passionate, passionate deal. And I know with everything that's going on in our world and with our state and the surge and all those type of things I get it.  All things that I don't know who's got control of anything. But here's what I know, for our community, if somebody were to say, you know, we're not going to play football this year. Well, my advice would be, don't say it in this town. You better send a message about that, because they love the Ware County Gators here. We're as passionate as anywhere that I've ever been and watching that portrayed, show in us leading us over to Memorial Stadium where Babe Ruth hit a home run. You know, it is a special event, as I've ever been a part of it. And, you know, they don't get tired of it. And it's a ..it's a year-long thing here. And if you're going to coach you, it's something that you better understand because it is it is going to be a year round situation that everybody's going to be interested in high school football.

Jon Nelson: And your journey in 2021 starts in Adel against Cook. Jason Strickland, the head coach of the Ware County Gators. As always, my friends, great to catch up and get the low down before you kick off here in 2021. I will be seeing you soon. Will be keeping an eye. Will catch up with you my friend.

Ware Head Coach Jason Strickland: Thank you Jon, Hannah both. What you guys do, it's, it doesn't go unnoticed. It's a rare situation that I get in a conversation with high school coach somehow what you guys do doesn't come up and we can't say thank you enough.

Jon Nelson: Thank you, my friend. So, yeah, I'm going to Waycross next week, weather permitting. And Commander Sandy, you had a thought. What was this?

Sandy Malcolm: Yeah, I had a thought. We need a John cutout for next week or a John stuffed doll something.

Jahi Whitehead: A Jon fat head.

Jahi Whitehead :Yeah, I was about to say the big fat. The big fat head.

Sandy Malcolm: So, Jahi The Magnificent has it. He's got it down that we need the Jon Fat Head for the times when I'm not here. So, we need the Hannah version and we need to have a version too if you know, if she can't make it one week so

Hannah Goodin: So, we can still have the full video experience.

Jon Nelson: Yes.

Hannah Goodin And I can still talk to you.

Jon Nelson: Yes.

Hannah Goodin: Amazing. I love that.

Jon Nelson: That is true. And you can basically ask the the whatever sitting here in the chair, the Jon Fathead, whatever you want, and you'll get the response you want because..

Hannah Goodin: Every single time.

Jon Nelson: The one where, yes, Hannah, you're right from the John Fathead.

Hannah Goodin: I love this idea.

Jon Nelson: I bet you do. All right. What else is on your mind as we get ready for week zero, which Tommy Palmer and I used to always sit there and say, but isn't this week one Tommy. One minus one is zero. So, this should be week one. But no, it's week zero. But it's like I do, too.

Sandy Malcolm: It's very confusing.

Jon Nelson: Yeah. And that's the thing. It's like is zero only in Georgia, high school football is zero equal to one. It's new math,.

Sandy Malcolm: New math, very new.

Hannah Goodin: And people understand it too. Oh week zero. Yeah.

Jon Nelson: Yeah. It's the week before the way things used to be.

Hannah Goodin: Well week zero Corky Kell classic.

Jon Nelson: I've heard of that.

Hannah Goodin: Starts this week. Top teams will be playing each other. Could be some shake ups in the GPB top ten polls. Yes, that's true. Let's talk about that, Jon. Our polls came out last week. Each member of the broadcast team, as well as our other contributing members to blogs and such vote. We're going to be putting that at the bottom of the rankings going forward on who votes. But what were your thoughts on the rankings?

Jon Nelson: I mean, I you know, I look at the rankings and I know that this is a collective vote. And so we all have our own versions as to why we think one is over the other. I thought that some teams should have been higher ranked than others. And obviously that means that if some folks are higher, some folks have to go lower. I thought that for the most part, the top tens in name were what they should have been. I disagreed with the order, but that's what polls are for and that's why we have it up at GPB.org. You guys can sit here and say, OK, well, I think this I think this I think this team is higher. I think this team deserves to be here. That's what it's all about. And we'll discuss that on Countdown To Kickoff as well on Thursday.

Hannah Goodin: Oh, people tell us what they think about those polls. Don't you worry. We're here on GPB Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. Wherever we play the game. It's arguing in the comments section. I'm just I'm just here for the comments on that.

Jon Nelson: You're here to sit in and say, so, Jon, what do you think about that?

Hannah Goodin: Who do you vote?

Jon Nelson: Jon? Who did you vote for? Well, we'll find out. Yeah, we'll have that as a part of the discussion on when the poll comes out and on Thursday.

Hannah Goodin: Yep, Countdown To Kickoff, so we've moved the date and the time again this Thursday GPB Sports, Facebook Live, twelve o'clock. What's what's for lunch. We'll be talking about what's for lunch. We'll have all of our regulars on there and it means the season is here.

Jon Nelson: Officially it does.

Hannah Goodin: Yep. All right, let's see what we got. Podcast is back to being weekly instead of monthly. Thank you to all those who tuned in last week, we got word that the podcast numbers skyrocketed. And, you know, it's probably because of Jon. I mean, it's probably your shiny forehead.

Jon Nelson: Yes, it was. That is exactly why

Hannah Goodin: People saw the promo video. And it brought them...

Jon Nelson:  Exactly why. It Is the shiny forehead. It's why the numbers went up. Yeah, that's exactly why

Hannah Goodin: Recruiting 2021 is back. We will tape that this Thursday. The first few will be digital and then September 10th will be the first TV version of Recruiting 2021 as well as our first game. We're still deciding.

Jon Nelson: Yes, we are mulling about have not chosen a game. When we know, we'll let you know on all of our social media platforms. If you don't. If you haven't liked, friended, or been a part of the conversation, like us and be a part of that conversation on all of our platforms, so that way we know what you're thinking and you can share your info and your love for high school football with everybody else. That's a part of it, too.

Hannah Goodin: All right. Last thing to check off. My Zoom interviews will start this week to air on Recruiting 2020. What are you writing about for your blog?

Jon Nelson: I think what I'm writing about is replacing the legend, because there have been some here in around the state of Georgia where you've had a lot of big names retire. What's it like to be the new guy? So we'll catch up with the new the new new guys in places where there have been some longtime coaches and some legendary coaches retire. So, what's it like taking over in those spots?

Hannah Goodin: Yes, I look forward to reading that, Jon.

Jon Nelson: And when I write it, I'll be sure to let you know when it's done,

Hannah Goodin: if it's for for sure what you're writing about. It's TBD.

Jon Nelson: Yes, but that's that was the original plan when I was when I was trying to think about it on the drive over here before we were taping. It was like I'm writing about this week. Oh, yeah. How about that?

Hannah Goodin: All right. Well, we got through my checklist, so I feel good.

Jon Nelson: OK, so and my checklist as you can, as you always well know, it's so it's so in-depth.

Hannah Goodin: People can now see what I'm talking about with the cameras. I come in here with a computer and like two pages of notes, which I'd never even get to. And you have nothing, you know, sticky note in pen, which isn't even yours.

Jon Nelson: Well, I was going to say neither of them are mine.

Hannah Goodin: So you got nothing.

Jon Nelson: I got nothing. So I think that's a it's a good way to wrap up the show.

Hannah Goodin: It's a great way. I'm ready.

Jon Nelson: Jason Strickland, the head coach of the Ware County Gators. Great to catch up with him. Great to catch up with you. Thanks for accessing the Football Friday's In Georgia podcast. However, you are doing so, whether it's a large device or small, on your favorite podcatcher, at GPB.org, every single place, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter. Like us at GPB Sports. What are you on Twitter?

Hannah Goodin: @HannahCGoodin.

Jon Nelson: @HannahCGoodin. I'm @OSGNelson @GPB Sports at everywhere.

Hannah Goodin: All of your interviews will be there from central and southern swing.

Jon Nelson: Right, so all the interviews will be there. Thanks again to Jahi the Magnificent and Commander Sandy. Back behind the glass.

Hannah Goodin: I like Sandy, Sandy better.

Jon Nelson: Ok, well than she is Sandy, Sandy. That hasn't changed.

Hannah Goodin: Commander Sandy is way better.

Hannah Goodin: OK, so Commander Sandy and Jahi the Magnificent you'll be hearing them all season long on the Football Friday In Georgia podcast as well for Hannah, I'm Jon. Play it safe everybody this week. Zero. Enjoy your games!