Football Fridays In Georgia: Two Different Roads to the Semifinals For Two Class A Public Teams
On this week's episode of the Football Fridays In Georgia Podcast, GPB Sports' Hannah Goodin and Jon Nelson preview and review all the latest playoff action. They also talk to Single A Public's Maurice Freeman of Brooks County and Wilcox County’s Rob Stowe about each team’s unique path to the semifinals.
Jon Nelson; Welcome to another edition of the Football Fridays In Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting, we are out of the quarterfinals headed to the semifinals. And this is our last week catching up with coaches for the season because after this week, getting ready for the finals coming out of the finals and getting into signing day will have the Football Fridays In Georgia All-Stars hanging out with us so we can break down the finals as best we can. Jon here, Hannah over there and..
Hannah Goodin; some great coaches this week. Oh yeah, it's fun to spend some time in Single-A public with Brooks County head coach Maurice Freeman, Wilcox County Coach Rob Stowe. The Stowe show on today
Jon Nelson; busting out the Stowe show. But Maurice absolute class and he is. He is a tremendous gentleman. Just I mean, he's just as fantastic a person when you get to know him and it it's amazing is that it was a fun interview and we covered a bunch of different things. But the fact that you got to see the other side of Maurice, not the football coach, but the gentleman and the cook that was important too
Hannah Goodin; and the motorcycle rider. Yes, you know, you learn something new about people all the time. But these two coaches going head to head
Jon Nelson; Maurice loves his motorcycle, Maurice. Absolutely. And oh, by the way, the I forgot to. I forgot to ask him about his German Shepherd. Oh, he's got a big old German shepherd, too.
Hannah Goodin; Ran outta time
Jon Nelson; I know motorcycle, German Shepherd, all that stuff. So I mean, it's a great, great conversation we had with Maurice. It would be great to catch up with Rob, Stowe and find out what's going on down there at Wilcox first time that they're this deep in the playoffs, in a long time. A lot of folks remember the Nick Marshall years when he was the quarterback there in Rochelle for Wilcox County. Now they're back and there's a bit of a connection with the quarterback, and the head coach will get into that too. It was fun to catch up with both of these guys in Single-A public,
Hannah Goodin; so we narrowed it down from 64 teams to 32 teams on Friday.
Jon Nelson; Hmm.
Hannah Goodin; Seems like everything has gone as planned. Congratulations to Hughes and North Oconee. They've been they've made it to the first final four appearances ever. Yeah, that that's awesome for them. Absolutely. What did you see, Jon?
Jon Nelson; Well, just to give the the abbreviated version, yes. Wilcox back first time in a long time, but with our seeding helps out with all the home games and winning coin tosses and having Manchester come to town as a four seed. You've got to Irwin County and Brooks. We anticipated them top two teams in the class. Top two teams in their region Metter doing fantastic things with their offense, putting up big numbers, so Metter as a one seed. We anticipated that you look at private Trinity Christian, ELCA PAC, Prince Avenue Fellowship. Yes, for the heavyweights, that's that's an understood Double A- Fitzgerald, a heavyweight Thomasville, same region. So the top two teams coming out of the same region, that region of doom. Swainsboro, a top seed coming out of their bracket in the upper corner. Callaway defending champ. You can never discount them. You look in Triple-A- Appling County as a two seed they had to go on the road to get some things done. Coach Mullis doing great things there in Baxley, they had to knock off Cherokee Bluff to keep going, and now they're going to be at Cedar Grove; Carver Atlanta once again. A top seed coming out of their bracket, Pierce County defending champ. 4A Cedartown knocking off Perry, we thought Cedartown would be making a deep run cover. Columbus the same coming out of the upper left, Benedictine and one of the heavyweights. We looked at Benedict and Marist and we were sitting there going, That could be a championship game. Yeah, Marist ends up going by the wayside. You've got Benedictine in North Oconee. You talked about them, Warner Robins, you've got BT and Calhoun, two teams at the same region year two and you're three out of the same region playing on the right hand side and then Creekside with Warner Robins; Buford. We anticipate them; Carrollton. We looked at them Hughes and Dacula with a great bracket helping out for them and then the four heavyweights in 7A. So, for the most part, I would say that it was a lot of folks we anticipated getting to these Final Fours
Hannah Goodin; A little disappointed in Rabun County ending Gunner Stockton's high school career, but breaking all those records
Jon Nelson; But go to Thomasville- 300 and how many miles?
Hannah Goodin; 325 miles. They win the longest drive award. And you shouldn't have to do that in the quarterfinals.
Jon Nelson; But once again, how things rotate around sometimes. You look at Rabun County and Thomasville saw a lot of folks thought that that could be a championship game. And as it ends up being in the quarterfinals, Buford and Lee County, a quarterfinal game that a lot of folks thought could be a championship game. So just because how things shaped out with the regions, that's how it ended up.
Hannah Goodin; Well, let's recap our game. Our quarterfinal match up was between three seed Walton and one seed Brookwood at the Brookwood Community Stadium in Snellville Jon. This one was sophomore quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski and the Raiders offense the whole way. And my hat's off to that sophomore QB. He played lights out
Jon Nelson ; Yeah, Zak Rozsman. We saw him for the first series and then the thing that Jeremy Hecklinksi comes in for the remainder of the game as opposed to I
Hannah Goodin; thought it was supposed to be a two quarterback system here and.
Jon Nelson; Right,.
Hannah Goodin; Lasted very shortly.
Jon Nelson; But remember Zak Rozsman's coming off an injury in the previous game? And so OK. So if the rhythm is there with that, Hecklinski, you keep riding that hot hand and get yourself into the whole game and get yourself into a final four. And also, I think we could see that that Dylan Lonergan for Brookwood wasn't about 100 percent. Yes. And so there was issues there with the passing game. And then, you know, when you thought that you could get pressure on the quarterback and force, you know, force them to try to beat you. That was just a a dominant effort by Walton to beat Brookwood on the road to get to a final four.
Hannah Goodin; So you mentioned the heavyweights, they'll play Milton, who defeated Mill Creek 36 - 27 in the back and forth tight one. Hmm. So I'm really looking forward to that game
Jon Nelson; Yeah. And then the other one on the right hand side, it's Collins Hill and Grayson, and we can talk about that one a little later.
Hannah Goodin; Yeah, we will preview. That's a tease. We will preview that one because it may or may not be on our list
Jon Nelson; the secrets out anyways, but we'll we'll talk about that one in just a little bit
Hannah Goodin; All right. One more act of business before we get to the coach.
Jon Nelson; And act of business, OK?
Hannah Goodin; A very serious active business,
Jon Nelson ; very serious act of business
Jon Nelson; I know you hear this, Commander Sandy, a very serious act of business, she says.
Sandy Malcolm; I'm very curious now.
Hannah Goodin; It's really nothing.
Jon Nelson; A very serious active business.
Hannah Goodin; I don't know why I said that I wanted to
Jon Nelson; because it was a very serious active business. You wouldn't tease it otherwise.
Hannah Goodin; I wanted to break down the class single, a public bracket a little bit more. Zero in on maybe the lower left and the lower right quadrant.
Jon Nelson; OK.
Hannah Goodin; We obviously bring in these coaches to talk all about it. But but what have you seen out of these four teams that are left? Irwin, Metter, Wilcox County, Brooks County?
Jon Nelson; Well, I think that you look at Irwin and Brooks and when your region opener in the region of Doom and Region two is Brooks and Irwin, that's going to be the one that gives the winner of that one the inside track to that number one seed, getting all those home games, hopefully getting the coin tosses and everything is going through Ocilla and you're seeing a very, very stout Irwin County team. We'll catch up with Casey Soliday this week for my column at GPB.org, so keep an eye out for that. But Irwin County at home, knocking off Macon County to get to the Final Four. A lot of folks were looking at these two coming out of the region of doom - Metter Once again, you just the offensive numbers from Metter are staggering.
Hannah Goodin; I know.
Jon Nelson; And to have them just put the pedal down and get the numbers that they're doing. And then Wilcox, you sit there and you look at what Wilcox County is doing. Once again, you get home games and Rochelle coming out of the lower left, you end up in the final four.
Hannah Goodin; Do you think Irwin can do it again? Three peat.
Jon Nelson; Yeah, I think they can.
Hannah Goodin; When is the last time that has happened?
Jon Nelson; In Single-A, I'll have to look. But you look at what Buford has done.
Hannah Goodin; That's true.
Jon Nelson; In other classifications
Hannah Goodin; and ELCA, you know,
Jon Nelson; OK, so you're seeing these kinds of runs, but how things just continue to work their way through with Irwin County. Yeah, they're doing tremendous work down there with Coach Soliday and everybody, you know
Hannah Goodin; Just a South Georgia team powering through and being able to get that done year after year is amazing. We missed Buddy Noble's though
Jon Nelson; We do. No doubt about it. You want to toss to our first team?
Hannah Goodin; Let's do it. OK with the with that serious act of business out of the way
Jon Nelson; Serious act of business!
Hannah Goodin; Let's bring in Brooks County head coach Maurice Freeman. You guys are going to love this. Welcoming Coach Freeman. I got three words for you; Bring the hammer. I'm going to add, I'm going to add a fourth word Bring the hammer, baby. That's three years in a row. Your success has been unmatched, in my opinion.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Very, very thankful that these young people play so hard for me. I'm very thankful. I take no credit, but I give all the accolades these young people.
Jon Nelson; How difficult is it to maintain the level of excellence that you want every single season and that you've had over all of your time down there? Brooks, how difficult is it to maintain that today in this day and age?
Coach Maurice Freeman; It is very difficult because you are not only the coach, part time trainer, part time dad, sometimes mom, sometimes grandma, sometimes equipment manager. The list goes on. You're washing clothes and dealing with the day-to-day problems that young people have, and then you want to coach on the nose and teach fundamentals. It was very difficult, but it's extremely rewarding.
Hannah Goodin; And you've done it through multiple classifications, so hats off to you. Coach Freeman, let's take a look at your road through the playoffs. In the first round, you beat Montgomery County 49 - 13. Second round beat Washington Wilkes 61 - 28. Then, in the quarterfinals, you defeated Warren County 51 - 30. Are you hearing? Are you hearing those numbers? 49, 61, 51. Coach, what is your what is your road been like so far?
Coach Maurice Freeman; Well, it's a it's a tough road I’ll tell you that. It’s not as easy as those numbers look, it is extremely tough, some tough, tough opponents. You know, you've had to worry about COVID, you had to worry about the flu and things of that nature. So, it's been a tough road, but I'm very thankful that we've made it through it.
Jon Nelson; And you've had to do it on the road because of being a two seed. I mean, and that adds that extra level of difficulty in all of this because, you know, when you're going from Quitman to Mount Vernon, you're going from Quitman to Warrington, you're going from Quitman to Washington, you're going from Quitman to Metter. I mean, this is not just something where you can hop on your motorcycle and sit there and, you know, drive to the corner store. I mean, these are absolute halls that you're having to do it. So you're really having to do this one on the road this time around.
Coach Maurice Freeman; It is, but we are road warriors and of course, we can't do it on a motorcycle heavy metal. But Friday, on the way back, we hit a deer.
Jon Nelson; No,.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Yes, we got a deer. So, I definitely am glad I wasn't on my motorcycle. It is a tough road, but I'm thankful that we own that road because you could be shooting basketball. So I'm thankful that we're still playing,
Hannah Goodin; Man, I don't know if that's good luck or bad luck hitting a deer.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Well we hit ‘em on the way back. So, we were OK and he popped up and ran off.
Jon Nelson; All right, OK, maybe good luck then. There we go.
Hannah Goodin; So do you drive your motorcycle to games?
Coach Maurice Freeman; No. No, my wife wouldn't let me. No, I do not.
Hannah Goodin; Man, that would be. That would be something else. All right. Well, you're one win away from making it to the finals for three years in a row. There are Brooks you will face Metter, who defeated Turner County 60- 21 in the quarters. What do you know about them and what's it going to take to get the W?
Coach Maurice Freeman; Oh man, I know everything it is about them, except for their mothers and fathers. And they are very, they're very talented football team, all those running backs. Looks like those running backs have been there for six or seven years.
Jon Nelson; Yeah, I know.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Their finally seniors. And they're pretty doggone 13. And now it's been outscoring everybody and doing a great job and don't throw the ball much on the run that winning three in the downhill football team, they run three or four defenses 3-3 stack 3-4 , 4-3. They do a lot of different things and they've got a pretty doggone kicker also to top it off and great facilities.
Jon Nelson; Well, and I know that you being a special teamer by heart can definitely appreciate having a good field goal kicker, a good place kicker in these situations and especially in the smaller classifications, if you're special teams can help you along. That's not something that you ordinarily get the chance to see.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Those are extra additives to that program. If you've got a solid kicker and punter component that gives you an edge because a lot of smaller schools don't have those things on their roster. So that is that is that is something that you desperately need.
Hannah Goodin; What have you learned about yourself as a two seed going through the playoffs?
Coach Maurice Freeman; I'm tired of riding, man, I'm tired of riding. My back is hurting me as we speak. Been riding the team Bus. But I've got the chance to get to know my wife a little better because she's sitting right beside me on every drill.
Jon Nelson; There you go.
Hannah Goodin; Love that.
Coach Maurice Freeman; But we've had a chance to just sit there and talk a little bit. And, you know, during football season, it's tough to get a lot of conversation with your wife because you at school more than you, probably at home, but by her one to ride with us on the bus with us. Let's give me a chance to all to just have small conversations with her and just enjoy that and enjoy my guys to see a coach and his wife's relationship, which which they don't get to see a lot of, but they've got to interact with each other quite a bit.
Jon Nelson; Time to talk up your starters and your seniors. What's it been like to be on this particular ride with this group of seniors to once again chasing after playing in the last game of the year?
Coach Maurice Freeman; Well, my hat's off to the seniors on offense. this could possibly be the best offensive team that I've ever coached, but these seniors have done a great job of carrying this team and and being leaders and going through all the ups and downs of two losses that we had. They had to swallow those two losses to Irwin and Thomasville. And you know, you give them all the credit for the win, and they've done a good job of leading our team also. So, my hat's off to all of these seniors young men are working hard.
Hannah Goodin; I'm sure you've heard of our segment by now, Make That Kid an Offer, so we know about some of your top playmakers and your seniors. Is there someone on your team that is overlooked and undervalued that you think needs an offer or a better offer, someone that that we haven't heard of?
Coach Maurice Freeman; Maybe I have two of em Jermaine Vimps, which is a wide receiver. He has an offer from Stetson. Man, I got a brain fart, this Christian Everton inside linebacker with a 3.9 GPA. This dude is flat out killing the book, and he's doing a great job of playing inside linebacker. So we're hoping that we can find some schools that will certainly get interested in him. We have some fliers and some folks have been asking about him, but he has no offers yet. Those two young men, right there are the two that we need folks to make an offer.
Jon Nelson; How difficult is it? You know, being in South Georgia, being in Quitman for college coaches, I mean, I know that the universe is smaller these days, but how difficult is it to get kids like those too noticed in this current day and age? Obviously, with COVID being a part of this discussion as well, how difficult is it to get recruits seen down there at Brooks?
Coach Maurice Freeman; This is how difficult it is, and I got this from a college coach who said, Why come to South Georgia when you guys are all spread out? When I can go to a 50-mile radius in Atlanta and get everything I need.
Hannah Goodin; Wow.
Coach Maurice Freeman; That’s how difficult it is.
Jon Nelson; I mean, that's disappointing to hear something like that.
Coach Maurice Freeman; That is disappointing. But he was a friend of mine and he told me the truth. He says, You know, you guys are scattered out. You know, you are. You are 29, 30 miles in Thomasville, 30 miles a Moultrie, 17 miles from Valdosta. But I can cover all 20 schools in Atlanta.
Hannah Goodin; Hmm. Sounds like we need a helicopter sponsor.
Jon Nelson; I think so.
Coach Maurice Freeman; That is correct.
Jon Nelson; When it comes to your coaching career and what you've been able to build there at Brooks, I know that one of the things that has been just as important to you. It's it's community, it's athletics, it's academics, it's the whole package. What's it? What's it like when you get someone who's a freshman and you get to be with them for those four years? And, you know, having seen them probably in the middle school program as well, what's it like to see someone through that four years be with you for those four years become that total package? What's that like for you when you get to see a moment like that?
Coach Maurice Freeman; It's a dream come true. All the preaching that you do, all the yelling and screaming and talking to parents and talking to teachers and talking to the young man. All of it is a dream come true. You see him as a little snotty nose old sixth grader coming on through 7th 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th grade. And then as a senior, you're like, Omari Arnold, all now is being recruited and has about 13 or 14 offers. When when he thought it was a basketball player and he really didn't wasn't sold on football, and then you finally his senior year, you got all these accolades and you say it was the young man. See what hard work to do for you. You had the talent, you put in the hard work and it has paid off for you. So, it is really a dream come true because a lot of them don't see the dream that coaches see. They don't see what they can amount to, but we do see it at an early age.
Hannah Goodin; I love that, and I know your players rely on you to coach them, coach them and what they can become. Well, while we have you for a few more minutes, we want to ask you some fun questions.
Jon Nelson; Okay.
Hannah Goodin; Coming off Thanksgiving, here we go. And I hear Coach Freeman that you are quite the chef. What did you cook up for for Turkey Day?
Coach Maurice Freeman; For Turkey Day, I cooked various types of deer sausage.
Hannah Goodin; Mm hmm.
Coach Maurice Freeman; I love deer sausage, Maple, Jalapeno pepper. Just different types of deer sausage on the grill. And I served it to half of my team. Half of the team loved wild animals. The other half is city boys. They don't know what their missing.
Hannah Goodin; Hey, I will dabble with the Jalapeno Cheddar deer sausage. 100 percent.
Coach Maurice Freeman; That is the bomb that is the bomb diggity.
Hannah Goodin; I literally had some on Thanksgiving.
Jon Nelson; Seriously?
Hannah Goodin; Seriously, my in-laws are from Valdosta.
Coach Maurice Freeman; OK. Oh yeah.
Hannah Goodin; Yeah, they got they got the deer sausage going. So good.
Jon Nelson; See, and this is one of the things I will. I will stipulate the first time that I had deer sausage was in Clinch, because they had some of their tailgaters who had this big smoker. And I mean, they were at the back of the baseball field and they have this massive amount of space. It's probably like this 15 yards square element of space. They had this big smoker and that was the first time that I had deer sausage. The city boy actually had deer sausage.
Hannah Goodin; I can't picture that, Jon.
Jon Nelson; Well, not a lot of folks can picture it. But but one of the other things that I wanted to talk to Coach Freeman about is there's as he, as he, as he makes his deer sausage and he does his grilling and all these kinds of things. His time on the coast when he was at Brunswick has lent itself to him creating sauce. All right. So break this. Break this down for Hannah because she's never heard this about your, your seafood and your mixes and all of this in
Hannah Goodin; a secret sauce?
Jon Nelson; Yeah. What's the Coach Freeman sauce? I have to talk to her about this stuff, so break that down for us.
Coach Maurice Freeman; We saw that probably has 32 different things inserted in it, and I take that and I put it together, and I don't do the normal, low country boil. I cook my my crab legs on the grill. I slap them on the grill and I put my sauces on there make you slap yo mama.
Jon Nelson; How long did it take you to get this right? How long did it take you to get that, that sauce, that sauce mix correct before where you were really happy with it?
Coach Maurice Freeman; 6 years.
Hannah Goodin; Do you have this written down anywhere just in your head, a little dash of this little dash of that?
Coach Maurice Freeman; I have it written down, but I cannot tell you where I have it.
Hannah Goodin; Oh man, I have to come and find it.
Jon Nelson; Well, this is the thing. This is where we petition the coach to have him make some and send it to us.
Hannah Goodin; And then we can just do a taste test to just guess what's in it.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Well, I tell you what, I tell you what? I happen to make it to the state championship game. I know that I will see you Sunday.
Jon Nelson; That is true.
Coach Maurice Freeman; And if I make it, I will bring sauce with me.
Jon Nelson; That is epic.
Hannah Goodin; Done
Jon Nelson; That is a done deal.
Hannah Goodin; I'm in.
Jon Nelson; And that is that is the way that it goes. And now, you know, when it comes, you know, and this is this whole conversation of food, it's something that literally coach and I have been talking about for the longest time because the boss in my household. She likes spicy stuff. She loves a little country boil. And so when I instantly mentioned this to her, Patty went nuts. My wife, my wife, went absolutely berserk at this idea of getting Coach Freeman's mix.
Coach Maurice Freeman; I will bring it Sunday if we make it.
Jon Nelson; I love this.
Hannah Goodin; All right. One more thing to talk to you about. We hear that it's Camo Week for Brooks on Friday. What are what are you guys doing for Camo Week?
Coach Maurice Freeman; Well, our theme this year is we hunt every day.
Hannah Goodin; There you go. OK.
Coach Maurice Freeman; So far, so good. So one of the teachers, one of the educators here, Beverly came up with the idea of let's, let's get the community to dress in Camo because we are going to Metta to hunt for a semifinal game trying to get into state champs again. So the community has bought into it. So they'll all hopefully be when Camo now coaches were superstitious, I'm wearing the same thing I've worn this whole year.
Jon Nelson; Understood,.
Coach Maurice Freeman; But I'm buying it. I'm in it and let's go.
Jon Nelson; Well, coach, it's always great to catch up with you because you are one of the true gentlemen of the sport here in the state of Georgia, and I'm glad that we got to pull back the curtain a little bit and introduce those who don't know what's going on down there at Brooks County, we've done tremendous things. You continue to do tremendous things. Thanks for hanging out with us this week and not just talking football, but talking life and talking food and all those kinds of things. Thanks for hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Well, John, when you make it to the Sportscasters Hall of Fame, make sure that you invite me so I can see a couple of words about you because you are certainly a good person.
Jon Nelson; Wow.
Hannah Goodin; Oh, that's an honor Jon
Jon Nelson; that is that is one of the most humbling things that anyone has ever said to me. I'm going to have to reserve this now. I'm going to have to remember this. So the next time that this does happen, it'll be great to see you when next time I see you and looking forward to catching up with you. You're doing great things down there. we'll hang up. We'll catch up with you real soon.
Coach Maurice Freeman; Bring that hammer.
Jon Nelson; One interview down, one to go. Time to go from Quitman to Rochelle and catch up with life in Wilcox County. Here's our interview with Wilcox County head Coach Rob Stowe
Hannah Goodin; Welcoming Coach Stowe. You're back in the semifinals for the first time since 2012, defeating Manchester 20 to 14. How does it feel?
Coach Rob Stowe; Oh, it's great to be here. I mean, we had a meeting yesterday in Thompson with all the semifinalists, and you know, it was high cotton for me to be in that room with that many successful coaches and I'm proud of our coaches here, our players, our administration and our fans. It's a special time in Rochelle, for sure.
Jon Nelson; I mean, you've had to win games, different ways, you've had your nail biters and those kinds of things. So I think that it speaks a lot about your team that you've been able to win games in different ways and that nothing should surprise you by the time you get to a semifinal.
Coach Rob Stowe; Well, that's true. I mean, if you go back and really look at the course of our season, we've won a lot of close games and also had some games that we were able to put away in the fourth quarter. So, you know, we preach the message that things we've done to get here, we're working very hard in the weight room and that those are the things that pull you through in those tight games. So hopefully we got a little more left in the tank, got a great Irwin team of course this Friday night.
Hannah Goodin; Let's take a look at your path through the playoffs in the first round. You defeated Charlton County 36 - 26, then Trion. That was a close one, 23 -22. And of course, you just mentioned Manchester. What's it been like for you?
Coach Rob Stowe; And they've been exciting games, of course, if you were a fan, I'm sure you love them. Between myself and my wife I think we both need to be on heart medication because it's come down to the end. But you know, the Charlton game, it was a close game, great thing. Great tradition. And Coach Murray's got those guys back on the right track after a year of not being, you know, usual Charlton football. But our guys will prevail with that one. And then you mentioned the try and game. It was an overtime affair that we decided to go for two to get the win and overtime was able to do that. And then, of course, this past week, probably the biggest team easily I've seen in class-A football since I've been coaching here at Wilcox. Manchester was just just a great athletic, big team and that we were able to come out on top of that one another close win.
Coach Rob Stowe; Nothing like facing all of your old region rivals, huh?
Coach Rob Stowe; Yeah. And you know, I mean, it's kind of crazy. You know, we play Charlton in the first round and turn right around here in the semifinals and play in Irwin, who we used to play every year when we were members of Region two. I'm not. I'm not sad that we're not driving to the swamp to go play games, but we used to play in the region with them and Clinch and whatnot. But you know, Irwin is a special opponent, of course. We're very familiar with them as they are with us. Both teams know each other really well, so it's going to be an interesting semifinal. Of course, usually have teams that travel hours to go play this game against somebody. We're just traveling 30 minutes.
Hannah Goodin; What is the difficulty level like with both you and Irwin knowing each other so well, knowing your faults. How how hard of a match up is that going to be and how do you prepare?
Coach Rob Stowe; Well, for one, I don't know if Irwin has any faults. I'm sure they're finding plenty of hours. But yeah, I mean, we're very familiar. We played each other the last two years, very close games. If you look at, you know, how their schedule has gone the last couple of years, you know, we're not looking for moral victory, but I feel like we've played them closer than anybody in the regular season other than a couple of teams that they've also Fitzgerald and TIFF County. So, you know, we got our hands full for sure. Hopefully, we can apply some of the things that have helped us in the past, and hopefully we can fix a few things that we didn't do very well when we played them and improve upon that. And then hopefully they decided that there's no need for them to look at film against Wilcox and they'll come into the game without doing so. But I know better than that
Jon Nelson; when it comes to your playbook this time of year. Do you add things to the playbook or do you can or do you constrict your playbook and just focus on those plays and those activities and those actions that you do not the most confident? And are there any secrets this time of year?
Coach Rob Stowe; You know, I'll be honest with you, it's a little bit of both, Jon. I'll speak to the first play of the game against Manchester this past Friday night. We had a little trick play in that we've been practicing for two or three weeks now and just thought this was the perfect time to do it. So yes, there will be a wrinkle or two here and their own offense that you try to do that at the same time. We talked about in our meeting yesterday that, you know, we got to get better, better at what we do really good. We got to take it to an elite level. So we probably need to restrict a few things offensively and just try to get really, really good at what we feel that we're very capable of doing now. Defensively, I think you have to be flexible because every team that you play might run a different offensive system and you have to tweak that. So defensively, it's a little bit different. But on offense, yeah, I think you're on to something. I think you try to do what you do best and stick with that.
Hannah Goodin; Let's talk about some of your playmakers, one in particular, one in particular your son, junior quarterback Abe Stowe. What's it like to coach your son and what kind of player is he?
Coach Rob Stowe; Yeah, it. He might say that it's the worst thing ever, because I'm going to admit I probably don't do a good job of telling him the good things and only point out the bad things on the field. But, you know, I want to make sure that everybody knows he gets coached the same way as everybody else. However, he has done a good job of handling that this year. You know, he's a pretty good player. He's known for over 2000 yards and run for almost 400 yards. He's he's our punter or place kicker and place safety on defense when we need him. So, you know, he just loves the game. He's been around it his whole life. He's got two older brothers that play the course and you know, he's been drug around in football field, the football field his whole life and just it's fun getting to to see him live out his dreams, no doubt.
Jon Nelson; So what's it like? I mean, obviously we know what it's like for you to be a head coach here in South Georgia, but being a coach and a coach dad at the same time, I mean, that's a that's a fierce juggle that you have to have.
Coach Rob Stowe; It is. And like I say, I try to make sure that, you know, I coach him hard, like I would any other players. And, you know, I probably don't have to, because his mom takes care of most things at home whenever she sees things on the field, she doesn't like,
Hannah Goodin; love it.
Coach Rob Stowe; But all joking aside, I do need to do a better job, probably at pointing out the good things that he does. But you know, at this time of year, you're just thinking about trying to win football games and see him just as a player, and you try not to look at him as your son per se. And you get time to do that at home and hug him.
Hannah Goodin; I know he's only a junior, but when it comes to recruiting, has he had any offers or interests or or what's going on?
Coach Rob Stowe; That’s a good question. And he's got a lot of interests out there right now. I mean, we've got some stuff this morning, just this morning from Mississippi State. You know, a few schools Georgia Southern was on him pretty hard. And of course, they've changed coaches. We're not really sure where he stands with that. Georgia State has reached out to him and South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky schools like that and a lot of FCS schools as well have reached out. He doesn't have any offers just yet. I think they're, you know, they're kind of got him as somebody that's on their board and they're keeping it now and just kind of seeing where it plays out over this next year.
Jon Nelson So then let's see who else should be on folk's boards from down there at Wilcox. You know, you and I talked about this when I was on southern swing, and this gives the opportunity to talk about it again for the recruiting 2021 show, we have that segment called Make That Kid an Offer. Bryant, we like to expand that to either make that kid an offer or make that kid a better offer. Is there anyone there in Rochelle that you would like to sit here and volunteer and go, Yes, someone here is being overlooked under starred underappreciated. What have you who could fit into that, make that kid an offer or make that kid a better offer?
Coach Rob Stowe; I’ll give you one for both those categories if thats Okay? Yeah. For a better offer, I think you couldn’t go wrong with offering our nose guard Isaiah Turner. He has like six Division Two offers right now, but you know, I think he is easily the best defensive lineman I've coached in my 26-year career at various levels of high schools and just a really good player. He had a strip fumble touchdown this past Friday night that he rumbled for about 50 yards, and that's pretty good for a 300 pound man.
Jon Nelson; But we like big guy touchdowns around here.
Coach Rob Stowe; Oh yeah, he did. And I'll give you a quote from Roger Holmes. The head coach at Dublim. If Isaiah wasn't 6’1” and he was 6’4”, 6’5”, he said Kirby Smart, Nick Saban would be living in Rochelle, so he's a little bit shorter. But I mean, he is. He's. But that's not telling what kind of player he is as far as making an offer. Our junior tailback Deshaun Lawson, has about fifteen hundred yards rushing this year with 16 touchdowns, and he didn't play two games due to injury. So that's pretty good numbers for a for a young. He's a junior. Just Jesse Jr. got another year that I think people are overlooking big time.
Hannah Goodin; One more question for you, and we can get into some of the fun stuff. We saw your Twitter where you tweeted out that this is the first time back since a dead period where college coaches can have contact with the players. And you were warning your guys to look nice in the hallways just in case somebody shows up. What's that all about? And do you have coaches on campus this week?
Coach Rob Stowe; We do. We've had I haven't had any today, although I've had four or five coaches reach out and say they're coming by this week. They want. The good thing is, is obviously still playing. We're practicing, they can come and, you know, at the end of the day and not just see the kid in the in the halls. So that's big time for our kids. But what we're trying to stress is for our young man is, you know, first impressions are so important, whether they are the right impression or not. You want to make sure that the first thing they see is somebody that is taking things seriously, that has a plan for the future and what it's going to take to get there. Shake hands very firmly with these coaches, look him in the eye and talk very clearly. And then, of course, we're trying to finish out the semester we have in the course that's coming up, and we really want to stress how important that is to go along with this big game we have Friday night.
Jon Nelson; All right now to the now to the fun stuff to to finish things up here. And thanks for hanging out with us for another couple of minutes, Rob Stow, the head coach at Wilcox County, hanging out with us on the Football Friday's In Georgia podcast. All right, Thanksgiving. I know that it was a busy week for you on a bunch of different fronts. What was Thanksgiving like for you in the Stowe family?
Coach Rob Stowe; Well, the great thing was to get the wake up Thanksgiving morning, of course, and practice football at eight o'clock in the morning. Then we broke that told all the kids to come back the next day. But I won't make a traditional Thanksgiving meal with my family and some of my extended family. And then that night we ate a prime rib, so I won't tell you what it. I would say probably about 400 pounds if I had Thanksgiving every day because I like a horse.
Hannah Goodin; What's your favorite thing besides? Well, besides prime rib? Yeah, really? What's your favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving?
Coach Rob Stowe; You can't go wrong with the dressing. I mean, traditional southern cook dressing is about as good as it gets.
Jon Nelson; Cranberry homemade or out of the can?
Coach Rob Stowe; You got to go homemade.
Hannah Goodin; Oh, yeah, oh, yeah.
Jon Nelson; All right. Dessert. Lemon meringue pie. Key lime pie. He can pecan pie apple. Where do you go for dessert?
Coach Rob Stowe; Can I say all of the above?
Jon Nelson; Yes.
Coach Rob Stowe; But if I just had to pick one, it's definitely got to be pecan pie.
Hannah Goodin; my in-laws brought turtle pie. Not like actual turtle pie, you know, like turtle ice cream.
Jon Nelson; Hannah is looking at me like not an actual turtle.
Hannah Goodin; Jon Just gave me a look like I was insane.
Jon Nelson; No I know what turtle pie is, but the fact that you had to run the disclaimer, but not an actual turtle.
Hannah Goodin; To clarify the way you look, the you look confused. No actual turtle, not actual turtle. That was my first time. Having turtle pie was good.
Hannah Goodin; Yeah, you see you see what happened.
Hannah Goodin; Pregnant lady loves pie.
Coach Rob Stowe; You see what happens, coach. When we have someone who is mere weeks away from giving birth to twins,
Coach Rob Stowe; I'm going to say no comment.
Hannah Goodin; Good. Good idea.
Jon Nelson; When it comes, when it comes to when it comes to the playoffs, real quick and when it comes to the playoffs. Obviously, the fact that folks haven't traveled, I mean, you haven't traveled a whole lot and it's like you get all of this home field advantage, obviously. Can you break down home field advantage in the playoffs, especially in the smaller classifications where you could be going 325 miles if you're Rabun County heading over to Thomasville, where this week it's only 30 true? But home field advantage, I think in the smaller classifications, I think is big.
Coach Rob Stowe; It is this huge. It's invaluable. I mean, just the fact that, you know, you don't have to worry about, Hey, do we have to leave the night before so far away because nobody sleeps, get in a hotel bed the first night, for sure. Things like we were able to just enjoy Thanksgiving without stressing over having to get packed up and ready to go. But you know, you work hard all season to try to get a high seed so that you have that opportunity, to host at home and you know, it's worked out really well for Wilcox this year.
Jon Nelson; Well, coach, thanks for hanging out with us on the Football Friday's and Georgia podcast and pulling back the curtain on one of the tougher Final Fours that's out there this year. Class A Public with your match up against an old regional rival in Irwin this Friday night. Thanks for hanging out with us here on the show and pulling back the curtain. Good luck this Friday night.
Coach Rob Stowe; Well, I appreciate it's been a pleasure mine to be with you guys and thank you for what you do for high school football.
Hannah Goodin; So Wilcox County, Irwin County, Brooks County, Metter, we have covered class Single-A public. We can put that to the side. We've touched on some brackets earlier in the show, but Jon, out of the other seven? Yeah, what intrigues you the most when it comes to when it comes to coaches, players? What's what's a game that just jumps out at you?
Jon Nelson; Trinity Christian- ELCA. OK, that's one that that's one that stands out because can Trinity Christian be slowed down? I know that a lot of folks looked at Eagles Landing Christian and they were like, Oh, they're 4-6 coming into the playoffs. And it's like, no, it's not the four and six that you think it is. They have to travel to like Ohio to get games. And, you know, because Eagles Landing Christian has that pedigree. Trinity Christian is trying to get to that pedigree, and we're seeing that development. Trinity Christian is just blowing people out, putting up amazing numbers and you want to talk family affair like we have with Coach Stowe. You have two sons hanging out with Kenny Dallas at Trinity Christian, and it just so happens to be your starting quarterback and one of your leading receivers. So I mean, that to me is one that stands out, obviously. And you look at Callaway as a defending champ having to go on the road in Double A and they're going to Thomasville. We know what Thomasville home field advantage can be considering they knocked off Rabun County last week in Double-A. You know, then you're looking at, you know, you look at Beatty and Calhoun say in 5A, two region rivals going at it on the right-hand side in 5A, the two and the three, not the one in the two, the two and the three coming out of that region in 5A, having two to play each other again for the chance to play in the last game and 5A. And then obviously Joey King, we've had Joey on the Football Fridays In Georgia podcast with what they're doing, going up against Buford, having to go to Buford. Buford pretty much just, you know, choke the life out of the game at Lee County, just shutting Lee County down. And I think a lot of folks would sit there and say that Buford, regardless of classification, is one of the best teams that's out there. I know a lot of folks would probably like to see Collins Hill play Buford this season and just to see what would happen with those two teams if they were to line up with what would happen with Collins Hill in Buford this year. I think it'd be a great game. But I think that you're looking at two teams regardless of classification that could be regarded as top teams across the board.
Hannah Goodin; I'm going to say that Blessed Trinity is kind of my dark horse.
Jon Nelson; OK,.
Hannah Goodin; In the playoffs. Three seed had a bit of a rocky season, and there were some times where I was like,
Jon Nelson; Well, and when you when you finally have Justice Haynes at 100 percent, you're seeing what you can get with Blessed Trinity. So, I think that now that one definitely should be on folks radar. Can Calhoun stop the running game of BT and it's, you know, it's been good to catch up with with Coach Hall coming back on the bus for the last couple of weeks, that one’s been fun. And to see how this three seed, you know, you knock off Woodward Academy now you're going for the chance to play in the last game of the year and you've got to do it, but you've got to do it on the road in Calhoun.
Hannah Goodin; Yeah. Three seed versus two seed.
Jon Nelson ;Yeah, that's a two and a three
Hannah Goodin ; interesting one. We hey, we broke a record. We did Friday. Yeah, our previous record was ten coaches on the post-game show. We had 11. That's awesome. Coaches 11 coach rapid
Jon Nelson; Rapid fire Commander Sandy, that’s the way to do it.
Hannah Goodin; Calling in from all over. That was fun. And remind me who called in from the empty bus.
Jon Nelson; Oh, was that was that? Hmm. I'm trying to think.
Hannah Goodin; they all run together.
Jon Nelson; What's your list? Let me see my list. Let me. All right. So it wasn't Daniel. There wasn't to Daniel.
Hannah Goodin; It was single A Private.
Jon Nelson; So it was VanderGriff?
Hannah Goodin; Yes, because you said these private school kids, yeah, they get to ride with their parents home. And he was on the bus by himself calling in. That tickled me.
Jon Nelson; PAC and Fellowship. That's going to be another one on the right hand side. On the other side in Class A private, that's going to be one to watch.
Hannah Goodin; Yep. All right. Well, the only one to watch.
Jon Nelson; See, there she goes again with our great promo
Hannah Goodin; With our game of the week. I mean, just smooth transition.
Jon Nelson; That was a smooth transition. Never, ever. There was.
Hannah Goodin; It's it's better than my usual, honestly. That was that was slightly better than my usual., awkward
Jon Nelson; you just gotta cruise right into it.
Hannah Goodin; My sharp right transitions. .
Jon Nelson; I'm usually the one with the sharp right transitions around here,
Hannah Goodin; mine are usually just like speaking of games. ....
Jon Nelson; Speaking of insert game here,
Hannah Goodin; speaking of football,
Jon Nelson; yes, Hannah Football promo. Read. Go.
Hannah Goodin; Let’s get something. Let's get to it.
Jon Nelson; Yes, let's get to it.
Hannah Goodin; So our semifinal broadcast is the rematch of last season's Class 7A state championship between Grayson and number one ranked Collins Hill. Mm hmm. The Rams defeated the Eagles 38 -14 in that title game. Grayson also leads the Series six to two and have won the last four in a row. But Collins Hill is 13-0. They won region eight for the second straight year. Grayson, 10 and three, finished second in Region four, but has rolled through the playoffs with some major momentum. The winner advances to the championships to meet the winner of Milton vs. Walton that will be on December 11th at Georgia State's Center Park Stadium. Kick off is set for 7:30.
Jon Nelson; Yeah, Recruiting 2021 will be the lead in at seven o'clock. Or we'll catch up with all of the recruiting news as we're getting that much closer to early signing day the week after the Championship. So when the football is over, it's not over because you got national early signing day the following week. And so that's going to be fun to see how all of the the coaches with the new coaches and the new administrations that are popping up all in college football are going to be able to hang on to or lose. It could be a Merr flipmass for a couple of folks, evidenced by Oklahoma and Southern Cal, so it's going to be interesting
Hannah Goodin; and job openings all over the state and high school too. Is it still 22?
Jon Nelson; Twenty to twenty three, I think was the last number right there. Traditionally, you're looking at about some number in the 80s at about 17, 18 percent of the more than 400 schools. So you're looking at somewhere in that number as your as your baseline. There have been some years where it's been over 100 openings that have had to be filled, but traditionally it's in the 70s and 80s range.
Hannah Goodin; Well, it's my last blog or Zoom and blog for the recruiting show. It will be Cedartown linebacker C.J. Washington this week, and it will be my last countdown to kick off in studio. I will probably be zooming in on the 16th.
Jon Nelson; You see how she's already trying to work next year.
Hannah Goodin; two days before I give birth.
Jon Nelson So I understand she's still trying to do shows.
Hannah Goodin; Yes, I will be zooming in from home for Countdown the kickoff on the 16th. I promise you, OK, I will be there. All right. So tune in.
Sandy Malcolm; from the hospital,.
Jon Nelson; From my couch or office
Jon Nelson; But no, I think you're more correct in all of this. I think that it will probably end up being
Sandy Malcolm; from the hospital.
Hannah Goodin; Oh, I know you zoom in from the hospital.
Hannah Goodin; You guys can't stop me
Jon Nelson; from the maternity ward. It's Hanna Goodin.
Hannah Goodin; I mean, Jon has been counting me out all season. You said I was going to be bed ridden by Thanksgiving, so
Jon Nelson; I did not say bed ridden, bed ridden makes it sound like you've got something. Yeah, you hit that cough cough button.
Jon Nelson; It makes it sound like you've got chicken pox or something?
Hannah Goodin; I think it's time to wrap up anyways
Jon Nelson; Bedridden, she says. OK, well, since you're laughing and coughing for those that aren't watching on. On the YouTube version, she's laughing and coughing and hitting the the mute button, so we're not hearing her cough, but it's too late, by the way.
Hannah Goodin; It's too late.
Jon Nelson; So this is the last one that we've had with coaches this year, the next two weeks. For our Championship preview and review, we're going to have the Football Fridays In Georgia All-Stars hanging out with us, so that'll be the next two weeks. So for Commander Sandy, for the Outlaw Jesse and for King James, I am just Jon. That is a coughing and laughing Hannah over there. Thanks for hanging out with us for another round of the Football Fridays and Georgia podcast. Enjoy your semifinals next time we do it. We're talking championships played safe. We'll see you next time.