Credit: GPB Sports
Football Fridays in Georgia: Mentor and Mentee off to fast starts at Bleckley and Houston Counties
On this week's Football Fridays in Georgia podcast, Hannah and Jon talk with Houston County's Jeremy Edwards on his team's early success and the challenges of being a first year head coach. Edward's mentor, Von Lassiter, also joins the show to talk about Bleckley County's undefeated start and the lessons he's learned over his decade plus career as a head coach.
Hannah Goodin: Coming up on this week’s episode of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: The first year in a new program is usually the toughest.
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: It's going to be very emotional. It's probably going to be a packed house.
Hannah Goodin: Offense, offense, offense. Yes, it was. Some teams delivered and some did not.
Jon Nelson: I got something right for a change.
Hannah Goodin: I think you're right on that. I agree with you.
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. And for this go-round, we spend time in Middle Georgia. We spend some time in Warner Robins. We spend some time in Cochran. We catch up with the head coach, the new head coach of your Houston County Bears. It's time to catch up with Jeremy Edwards. We catch up with him, the first-year head coach. We get to find out what it's like for him to be a first-year head coach in Middle Georgia. We also get to catch up with a guy who went home a couple of years ago to be the head coach of the Royals of Bleckley County, Von Lassiter. And it's a fun win this week. It really is.
Hannah Goodin: It is. They have a really good relationship and didn't even know each other was going to be on the podcast today. So, you guys definitely want to stick around and listen to that all the way through.
Jon Nelson: All that karma that's attached. Yes.
Hannah Goodin: Chemistry. Yeah. Hey, you're dry this week. This is the first time in temporary time in four weeks that you did not get rained on. And I just want to say I'm so happy for you.
Jon Nelson: I mean, I — it was — it couldn't quite make up its mind. And there were times where it would kind of drizzle a little bit, but it wasn't the torrential downpours that we've had on most of the other broadcasts so far this year where I've completely blown up my raincoat. Okay, pull back the curtain for Storytime with Jon.
Hannah Goodin: My favorite.
Jon Nelson: I can see.
Hannah Goodin: Are you telling the coach story?
Jon Nelson: No, no, no. You can tell the coach story. You can tell the coach’s story all you want. When I go, and out on the field doing sideline and field anchoring at the game of the week for Football Fridays in Georgiabecause the weather has been so bad this year, I will double raincoat myself.
Hannah Goodin: What? Why isn't that what one raincoat's job is supposed to do?
Jon Nelson: You haven't been outside in the rain this year.
Hannah Goodin: You're right. You're right.
Jon Nelson: So, we have this as part of our wardrobe. We have the thin raincoat. Then we have the thicker all-weather one that you see on the air. If the weather's really bad, and it has been if it's either really cold or really wet, I will double raincoat myself, and I have double raincoated myself for three of the first four weeks. I didn't double raincoat last week because Mother Nature couldn't make up her mind and it kind of drizzled a little bit but yeah, I double raincoat. Swear. Double raincoat. That's what I do to try to stay as dry as possible. So, the electronics that I'm attached to also don't fritz and fry out. So, it's kind of part and parcel of a larger picture.
Hannah Goodin: At our morning meeting this morning. Matt brought up that Jon needs a new hat. So-.
Jon Nelson: That's accurate.
Hannah Goodin: They have a new hat coming for you.
Jon Nelson: Yes, that is another thing is the hat blog too.
Hannah Goodin: So, the Coach story was Parkview head coach Eric Godfree. Right, that saw you in the raincoat.
Jon Nelson: Uh huh.
Hannah Goodin: They were starting to come back.
Jon Nelson: Uh huh.
Hannah Goodin: It was halftime.
Jon Nelson: Uh huh.
Hannah Goodin: And he said, you can't take off the raincoat.
Jon Nelson: Correct.
Hannah Goodin: Because you've already, you've already set the pace of the game with your coat on.
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: So, you can't take your raincoat off, and you didn't?
Jon Nelson: Yeah. No, I didn't.
Hannah Goodin: And wore it the rest of the game.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, well, I, you know, I had to respect what the man wanted to. I have to respect the request. I mean, come on.
Hannah Goodin: Well, let's recap our game. It was Parkview versus North Gwinnett at Tom Robinson Stadium. Just a little drizzle. The Bulldogs came on strong with a 14 to 3 lead by the second quarter but couldn't hold on to it. The Panthers battled back then and broke the game wide open with two pick 6’s in the fourth quarter, winning it 48 to 21 to go 3- 0 on the year. North Gwinnett is now two and two. What did you see, Jon?
Jon Nelson: Well, Terrence Curtis and Zelus, Zelus Hicks is a part of the youth movement that we're seeing at Parkview that is part and parcel of the youth movement. Really, what we're seeing in Gwinnett County, we see it we saw it at Collins Hill, and we saw both of these teams in North Gwinnett and Parkview, where they're playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores. And so, these teams that are building right now, you're going to see these guys. They're going to be we're going to be talking about the same names for the next couple of seasons. When it comes to a lot of teams that we've seen so far this year in Gwinnett County, one of those picks was 98 and a half yards for a score.
Hannah Goodin: 99 yards. We'll give him the half, ninety-nine yards.
Jon Nelson: You'll round up. Okay. And then Georgia Cotton Commission Player of the Game was Khyair Spain, who ran 25 for 188 and had a touchdown. Also had passes, I think, for about 40 yards total. So, he had about 230 yards of total offense for Coach Godfree at Parkview, that dominant performance. And just as soon as North Gwinnett was close, and then you had the two pick-sixes as they were trying to make sure that they could get within a one-score game, get the two pick-sixes. And it was a 48-21 final. So, Parkview now goes to 3 and 0 North Gwinnett at 2 and 2. But now it was fun to be out there, even if it was only a raincoat that I could not take off, even if it wasn't raining.
Hannah Goodin: I honestly, in the first quarter, I was like, man, this is, you know, Parkview from last year and years, years passed recently. And I was like, there is so much hype around Parkview. Well, boy, they showed up. Jon took them a little bit to warm up, but they showed up. Yeah.
Jon Nelson: And we got to see I got our first look at K-Mac, who one of the large forces for North Gwinnett up front. And you got to see why. And then he got to see-.
Hannah Goodin: Kay McDonald.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And you get to see Kayden McDonald before-.
Hannah Goodin: He scored two touchdowns.
Jon Nelson: Yes. Well, and then he was heading to the University of Michigan to see Michigan beat up on Hawaii and the Rainbow Warriors after that for another official visit.
Hannah Goodin: He might be questioning his Florida ties.
Jon Nelson: Well, after that, after the Kentucky game, do we have any Kentucky fans or-Oh, Lori Cover producer Lori well, her connections to the UK so you know right now its, yeah, words came back going to go we'll find out on Halloween.
Hannah Goodin: Still projected Clemson.
Jon Nelson: Insert your Halloween cliche here about the decision.
Hannah Goodin: Well, Florida was after him strong.
Jon Nelson: They still are. You know, a team, an orange team, an orange and an, and an announcement on Halloween for KMac. So, that was fun to see him really as one of those big forces on the front line for Coach Stewart at North Gwinnett.
Hannah Goodin: One team will be tricked, and one team will be treated.
Jon Nelson: There you go. There it is.
Hannah Goodin: I had to get that in there.
Jon Nelson: There it is. There it is.
Hannah Goodin: This week, my theme for my top five game scoreboard was offense, offense, offense.
Jon Nelson: Yes, it was.
Hannah Goodin: Some teams delivered, and some teams did not. So, we have all corners of the state. We'll start in the Atlanta area, where Milton beat Roswell 14 to 7. The Eagles defended a fourth and three at the Milton four-yard line in the final seconds. Quarterback Luke Nickel was 16 of 24 passing for 173 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 32 yards. That was a pretty good game. What do you think about that?
Jon Nelson: Oh, that was solid, too. I mean, it was.. what you anticipated, that it was going to be a game that was going to be decided late.
Hannah Goodin: Late one score game. Yeah, it was pretty much exactly what we thought. It could have gone either way.
Jon Nelson: I got something right for a change.
Hannah Goodin: I think you're right on that. I agree with you. Okay, then in the east, we have Ware County beating Benedictine 14 to 10. The Cadets had two possessions after getting within 14-10 but didn't amount to much Ware, held them to 9 first downs, and forced three turnovers.
Jon Nelson: Nine, so all right. I debated I seriously debated having Jason Strickland, the head coach of Ware County, as is one of our guests. And we know that we're going to have Jason on the show at some point this year.
Hannah Goodin: Of course.
Jon Nelson: After the two teams combined for 91 points last year, 49-42.
Hannah Goodin: I know. We were like, this is going to be an offensive game.
Jon Nelson: It's going to be big- to be an offensive. So, of course.
Hannah Goodin: You were like, put that as number one.
Jon Nelson: And so, of course, what happens, defensive.
Hannah Goodin: 14 to 10, defensive battle.
Jon Nelson: But the thing is, I think what that does is that wakes up everybody else who has Ware County and Benedictine on their schedules because it's like, oh, okay, you had stellar defenses from both of these teams going up against each other, stopping the other's high-powered offense. And so, you know, when you have Ware County stopping Luke Kromenhoek, and you have Benedictine and stopping the new quarterback at Ware County when you got them stopping Nikeo, I mean that one, I think sends up more of a flair than anything else that these are two well-rounded teams as they head into the region, play and head toward seasons two and three.
Hannah Goodin: All right. So far, we're on the same page, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, I'm down with that.
Hannah Goodin: Over in the West, Cedartown beat Calhoun 21 to 7. Reece Tanner rushed for 115 yards and passed for 149 yards and two scores. Cedartown is now ranked number one for the first time since 1995. That fun fact comes to you from the GHSF Daily.
Jon Nelson: Yep. And I mean, it's great to see when you have a really cool football town, and they get to have this kind of recognition like that. So, we'll see now that everybody has them on their radar and that the bullseye is there. It was great to have Jamie Abrams on the postgame show, by the way.
Hannah Goodin: Yes.
Jon Nelson: It was good to catch up with him. But everybody's going to be gunning for Cedartown now. We'll see what happens with the Bulldogs now with them at the top of the ladder.
Hannah Goodin: I have a bigger surprise. I want to talk about it.
Jon Nelson: Bigger surprise? Okay.
Hannah Goodin: One of my surprises is Valdosta defeating Warner Robins 25 to 0, Holding the demons to just 78 total yards? Jon, what happened once again?
Jon Nelson: I mean, it's, and this is one of the points that I make. When it comes to season one, Warner Robins, you have with our upcoming guest, you know, you're introducing new coaches, you're introducing new position coaches and offense. When you when, you're Warner Robins, and you lose your offensive coordinator.
Hannah Goodin: And some.
Jon Nelson: and another two assistants. You're going to have that period of adjustment. Warner Robins also trying to find a quarterback. So, you're season one for Warner Robins is settling in, finding a quarterback. Get into season two. That's where you make your hay and get ready for season three. So, it's just all about the build right now for Warner Robins and all about making progress. That's how I'm looking at things for the Demons.
Hannah Goodin: And finally, down, down south, the game that-.
Jon Nelson: She says finally.
Hannah Goodin: The game that came through with the offense, right? Colquitt County beat Lee County 48 to 27. The Packers scored 27 consecutive points after Lee County pulled within 21 to 20 midway in the third quarter and finished with 569 total yards.
Jon Nelson: Woohoo.
Hannah Goodin: Pretty good night for the Packers.
Jon Nelson: Mmhm. Yeah. And I mean that one was back and forth until the late third quarter, and then Sean Calhoun and Colquitt County put the pedal down for the big win there for them. So, I mean, that's another one where you sit there, and that's a marker across the bow that Colquitt County played Lee and put 48 on Lee County. So obviously, it'll be a good learning experience for the Trojans of Lee County and head coach Dean Fabrizio. But yeah, Colquitt County, I think, just put up an early marker in football here in Georgia, not just in South Georgia, but in Georgia overall.
Hannah Goodin: Our web game was Blessed Trinity versus Saint Pius. BT won 14 to 7. We had both those coaches on the postgame show and my big upset for the night, which we talked about it on the postgame show. Cedar Grove defeating Collins Hill, 40 to 6.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, 46 yards rushing. 46 yards passing. So, 92 total yards of offense for Collins Hill and Cedar Grove, by the way, kind of teasing their schedule once again. You know, we always mention that they'll play anybody in no conscience. Don't care. They're at Mill Creek this week. We're going to go out and play another 7A school just cause.
Hannah Goodin: Why not?
Jon Nelson: Just cause?
Hannah Goodin: Why not?
Jon Nelson: Well, but that's the thing. It's like you ask you to ask the folks at Cedar Grove, you know, it's like, how confident are you as a team? Yeah, we're confident because that's how we've structured things. Cedar Grove is a force, not just in AAA, mind you. Top-ranked in AAA, but around the state of Georgia. They are a force right now in high school football.
Hannah Goodin: A championship contender.
Jon Nelson: Oh, no question. Absolutely no doubt. I mean, you look at AAA, Cedar Grove, and Calvary Day, which will be fun looking at Jake Merklinger, Oconee County, Sandy Creek, and Peach County, who put up a big number against Jones last week. You've got Crisp, Dougherty is 4 and 0, Stephens, Mary Persons, and Carver (Columbus) was one of the shocks with their upset, but yeah, right now, Cedar Grove, for me one of the favorites to win in AAA.
Hannah Goodin: Awesome. All right. Well, we got a lot coming up on the show. We're going to grab some tissues for when we do the staff whip around.
Jon Nelson: Yes, that is true.
Hannah Goodin: For your score. The tissues are for you, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Well, why? Because I recognized what happened.
Hannah Goodin: We're going to talk about. We're going to talk about it later.
Jon Nelson: All right.
Hannah Goodin: We're also going to preview our game of the week as well as two Web games. We're going to tell you more about the two Web games. But first, who do we have coming up, Jon?
Jon Nelson: Lead off this week, the new head coach at Houston County. It's Jeremy Edwards. And we find out what it's like for him to be the guy in charge for the first time in his career.
Hannah Goodin: Welcome to the podcast, Coach Edwards, for the very first time.
Jon Nelson: I feel like we should say trumpet fanfare or something for all the first-time coaches that come on.
Hannah Goodin: I know. Thank you so much for being here. Just-.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Hannah Goodin: How are you?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: I'm good. I'm good. Just trying to keep my head above water and try to keep on keeping on getting some wins and making people happy in their country.
Hannah Goodin: Well, before we get into what was and what's to come, it's your first year ever as a head coach. How has it been, and what have you learned?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: You know, it's been kind of a world with the kind of the word that I seem to always come up with when I get asked that question. I mean, it's a lot of things that I have to handle that I never had to deal with before as just an offensive coordinator. So, learning how to do some new things and fundraise and all that stuff has been it's been fun. Honestly, it's a challenge at times, but it just keeps me busy throughout the day and kind of gives me an opportunity to wear different hats.
Jon Nelson: So basically, when you do stuff with folks like us, it's a break from all of that other stuff. I see. I see how this works. Did you want to take a break from all of that?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah. I always like talking with you, Jon.
Jon Nelson: I mean, when you look at all of this stuff now that you've had a little time to think about it when does it? It seems like a whirlwind because I think it was, what, in late December when you were named the head coach at Houston County when it was approved. What's the biggest thing you think you've learned about yourself since December? Now that you're a head coach?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Well, you know, when I got the job, I reached out to a bunch of people, you know, throughout the state that had a lot of experience doing it. And it's kind of get their take on how to handle it. And, you know, and I got all this stuff that they would send to me, and I tried to go through it and try to follow things, you know, calendars and things like that that people did. And I finally just realized I just got to-I got to be me. And there is no secret recipe to doing it. You just have to you have to be real with your team, with your staff, with your administration. You have to be yourself and just give everybody your best every day. And that's what I try to do.
Hannah Goodin: Well, you've gotten off to a great start, 4 and 0, coming off a big win against Locust Grove, 68 to 12. And I want to break down your offense first because 68 is a big number. Your quarterback was ten of ten passes for 298 yards, five touchdowns almost entirely in the first half when you had a 68-to-nothing lead. Tell me more about him and what makes your offense go.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah, A.J. Hill is our quarterback. He's, you know, obviously when I got here, we knew he was super talented. He's been recruited since he was really in eighth grade, and he's 6'5", 210. And he's really honest; he's a football junkie, is a student of the game. I don't know that he has any more hobbies. Unfortunately, we probably need some more hobbies. But he's all in with football. He's all in with HoCo. His family is. And yeah, I mean, the sky's the limit. He's, you know, we've had several coaches come through and ask about him and kind of watch him, and they're amazed with the ability that he has. And at such a young age, he's just 15, just turned 15, actually. So, he's a very young sophomore. But he's, you know, he gets better and better each week, and he's playing at a high level right now. We need it in order to keep winning.
Jon Nelson: When you look at the numbers that you've put up, I mean when folks look at box scores, and they'll go to their favorite dot coms, and they'll see all the final scores and everything. Do you have a chance, I guess, A, to enjoy those games with all the numbers that you're putting up, and B, does it blow you away, the numbers that you're putting up, especially on the scoreboard?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Well, you know, it's like we tell the kids, they’ve got 24 hours to enjoy it. I try to devote my Saturdays, you know, to my family. I've got three daughters and my wife. And so, you know, I do take some time to kind of let it sink in. But then immediately we're off to the next, the next opponent breaking down film and going through the routine that we have every week. And, you know, it's just right now we're just playing really well. The kids have done a great job buying into what we do schematically. And it's I think, you know, we've got the trigger man, which we've talked about, and that helps out a lot.
Hannah Goodin: So, I've got twin girls that will be nine months old tomorrow. So. Girl Parent Club.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, yeah, I was just talking with somebody it's going to get really crazy when they're all, and you know, back-to-back to back in early high school middle school in my house is going to be.. oof.
Hannah Goodin: I know I'm right there with you.
Jon Nelson: In a game like the one with Perry. That seemed, I mean, from those of us who are watching from afar, it seemed like it was just absolute craziness that was going on. And I think; frankly, both of you just scored again with a game like that. But when you're in a game like that, you know, I was asking about, you know, trying to enjoy a game where you're putting up a lot of offensive numbers. How frantic are those shootouts where you're sitting there, and it's like, okay, they scored? Now it's our turn, and we've got to keep pace. How frantic are games like those, especially for a first-year head coach and a first-year staff?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Well, yeah. I mean, that game was it was wild. We were down at one point 28 to 3, and we got two quick touchdowns before the half. To get us within. I think it was 17. I can't remember now, but it was. I just felt like at half halftime, I told our kids, you know, that, you know, we're still in it. And it's really a tribute to, you know, us. When we got here, you know, I felt like this team needed kind of a shot in the arm. And when I'm when I say that, we are just not real confident and, you know, when things would happen that, you know, didn't go their way, had a tendency to kind of, you know, tank it. And so, I was real proud of how they handled it at halftime that we started to get momentum. And then, yes, you're right. I mean, that second half, it was a score for score. And then finally we had the ball last, and we made a good, a great stop on a, you know, a fourth and short or a third short. Excuse me. They punted. We got a good return. And then we drove it down and scored with 10 seconds and just chose to go for two. Two. We just had to we had to get the game over with. I didn't want to get-my heart couldn't take it anymore, and I didn't want to go to overtime with those guys—Coach Smith, a fantastic job there. And, you know, they're definitely a team on the rise, obviously.
Hannah Goodin: Well, now you get a much-needed week off to prepare for the school that you were just at. You were the offensive coordinator for Warner Robins. What is it going to be like facing them?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah, that's going to be a pretty emotional game. I've got a lot of respect for Coach Westbrook, for Chris McCook, the principal, for the kids, a lot of love for those kids. And, you know, I was there for three years. Both my coordinators, Kelly Chastain, my offensive coordinator, and then obviously Coach Singletary, both came with me from Warner Robins. So, it's going to be very emotional it's probably going to be a packed house at Freedom Field, I imagine. You know, it's going to be exciting. You know, we've luckily, we've got some time to kind of get ready for them. We've got this week off like you said. And so, we've already started to kind of get that process going and try to heal up some injuries going into that game. But it's going to be really exciting.
Jon Nelson: Jeremy Edwards, the head coach of Houston County, hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. That was going to be my next question. Do you want the bye week now? Traditionally, I mean, you're 4 and 0. You're rolling. Do you want a bye week now with the momentum that you've gotten? But it sounds like with the injuries and the little nicks here and there that you'll take the bye week now because of all of that.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah. So honestly, when I got here, our athletic director, Jason Brett, had already got the schedule worked out, which took a little bit, you know, a lot off my plate, to be quite honest. And he set it up great. I mean, we were able to get some good games, you know, a couple of home games and get our non-region schedule. But yeah, just worked out that way. When we get the bye week, it's unusual for Warner Robins because they have to play a region game, Jon. They play Dutchtown, and then they get back out of the region to play us. So, it's kind of unusual for them, but for us, it worked out good. But obviously, we've got Warner Robins, Lee, and Northside back-to-back to back. So, you know, we need this time to, you know, we're going to get a couple of guys back that we had injured, you know, and so we're where we feel like we're in a good spot right now.
Hannah Goodin: You kind of answered my last question for you. And I was going to ask about region play because it looks pretty tough. Coming up, you got Lee County, Northside, Thomas County Central, Tiff County, and you are in the regular season with Veterans, I guess. How have you prepared your team, and what have you learned about your team heading into region play?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Well, you know, again, and I hate to keep using the reference, but the Perry game was just great for us to be able to, you know, we talk about, you know, being comfortable, being uncomfortable, things like that with our core values and that obviously that wasn't a comfortable situation at one time being down 28 to 3. But now they know that you know, no matter what's going on in the game, that they're able to, you know, make a comeback and win it. And if they play to the end and play hard. So, it kind of justifies the things that they've heard from me and my staff since January, you know? You know, I'm sure after a while, here, I had to bring guest speakers in because I got tired of hearing my own self-talk, to be honest. So, you know, we're just trying to, you know, we're trying to change a culture. And, you know, a lot of times you get lost in that, and people get very excited. You know, we are 4 and 0, but this is only year one, so we're still trying to build it. But you're right. I mean, the region is tough. We got to go to Lee County. We got to go to TCC. And so those are going to be tough games for us. We know as well as Northside and Veterans and Tiff, but we're excited for the challenge. And, you know, as I said, I just feel like that. The way that the schedule worked out, it just kind of things are sort of falling into place for us right now. We just got to keep the momentum going.
Jon Nelson: So then let me ask you this. You mentioned bringing in guest speakers to to help with messaging and make sure that everyone's on the same page and continues to be on the same page when it comes to you needing advice. Who is on your speed dial, on your phone, that you can sit there and call at a moment's notice. I mean, short of maybe 2:30 in the morning when you're going to get the, you know, the glass of water and you got an idea in your head. Who are those coaches on your speed dial for you that you can sit there and get advice from that can help you along in this process?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Well, there's no doubt it's Von Lassiter, which, you know, that's going to be no surprise to you because he was here at one time when I got this job he reached out to me. And he's a phenomenal human being. He makes me better as a person, you know, whether it be just life in general or football or whatever it may be. I know I can always count on him if I need any kind of advice, you know. And so, he's just been really good. Obviously had been here and sat in this chair before. So, he knows this area. He knows the school and the dynamics of the school. So, he's been phenomenal for me, you know, just kind of working through some. You know, obviously, first-year head coaching type things that come up. And so, I would say he's 100% the one that I'm that I call, and we talk, you know, a couple of times a week and have developed a really good friendship over the last couple of months.
Hannah Goodin: Did you know Coach Lassiter was going to be on the podcast today?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: No, I did not.
Hannah Goodin: You just buttering him up.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Is he really on it?
Jon Nelson: He's the one after you.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, he is coming on next.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Oh, wow. Well, I had no idea.
Hannah Goodin: Talk about a transition.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: That's amazing. Yeah. I wish he was on now. Hopefully, I mean- yeah, he’s, my guy. I love Coach Lassiter, and he's great. I did not know that.
Jon Nelson: So, you're reading, you're reading all of our game notes now. Well, when it comes to the weekly show. So, yeah, it's you and Von. That's what it is this week. My last question for you is the question that we do with Recruiting 2022. End of the show every single week. Hannah, Matt, and I, always have emails and stuff on GPB.org for Make That Kid an Offer. Now that you've had some time between the last time that we talked and now where you're out of the blocks at 4 and 0, and you're in the top ten in some polls early here in the week. When it comes to your roster right now, is there someone or someone where you would sit there and say that, for whatever reason, they're overlooked or underappreciated? You know, they pick your cliche, they're too small, they're too whatever that they're their metrics aren't what folks meet. Is there anyone or any one as a part of the roster there at HoCo? So that would sit there, and you would sit there and say, Make that Kid an Offer or Make that Kid a Better Offer. Who comes to mind?
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Well, the one that I mentioned to you when you came to visit me was Nick Jordan. I still stand by that now. He's been injured. Now we get him back. I took him to the doctor this morning, and he's back. So, we're looking forward to getting him back. But I have to say that Ricky Johnson is definitely the one that you'd need to make an offer to. He's our junior receiver. Shoot, I think he had five catches the other night for 200-plus yards, and two or three of them went for touchdowns.
Jon Nelson: 202 and 3 last week. Yeah.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah. So, he's he's been, you know, he was a kid that, you know, was just he didn't play here last year. He showed up at the school. He was in a general PE class, and our strength coach was there and noticed him. And you know, we do like a gut check thing in the off-season. And he was there, and he moved around, and we were impressed, and he's been nothing but impressive since.
Jon Nelson: So, there you go, Ricky Johnson last week 202, and 3 add him to the Make that Kid an Offer or Make that Kid a Better Offer.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yes, sir.
Jon Nelson: When it comes to Make that Kid an Offer, well, anything else for the coach before we go him?
Hannah Goodin: No, this was great. Thank you for your time, Coach.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: So, I appreciate you having me.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Jeremy Edwards, head coach of Houston County, he's got a week off so he can enjoy the rest of the show with a guy that's on speed dial who's coming up next. Coach, thanks for hanging out with us on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yes, sir. Thank y'all so much.
Jon Nelson: So, we continued the podcast in Middle Georgia, and we move from Warner Robins over to Cochran, catching up with one of the guys who is undefeated out of the blocks this season in 2022. The 3-0 Bleckley County Royals and their head coach, Von Lassiter.
Hannah Goodin: Hey, Coach Lassiter. So, we just had Houston County coach Jeremy Edwards on, and he said that you are one of his close friends and that you are his go-to for advice and for everything coaching in his first year as a head coach, and he also wanted to call you out for probably napping these past 30 minutes and not calling into our show earlier.
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Well, see, Coach Edwards, I just was gracious enough to allow him when he came to our OTA the sleep in my back room back there, I put a pallet down for him, made it up for him. So, he wouldn't have to sleep in the gym on the hard floor. I was gracious enough to do that for him, and then he calls me out. So that's my nap room, but no, that's his nap room. That's where he sleeps at. So, when he comes in the summertime.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, my gosh, that is so funny. Well, along those same lines, I guess, what sort of advice have you passed his way?
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Well, you know, when you've done this for, I guess, this is my eleventh year as the head coach and 22, 22 years total, when you've kind of started up two different programs and, you know, kind of get things going again a little, you know, we were fortunate to just be in the right place at the right time with good players then. And, you know, he's where I was, you know, 11 years ago. And I know exactly where he was and exactly what he's, you know, faced with. And so whenever, you know, we have common issues to come up with the things he was dealing with on the front end. And I could relate because I've been there. And so, I think it was an easy, you know, fix for me to kind of give him some advice of some things to do to help him out. And people know, and people call people to get to help. And I was just really fortunate to be in a place where I could do that. You know, and I, you know, it comes from like meeting boosters to calling on people to help with your program to find somewhere to buy double cheeseburgers. I mean, there are all kinds of things that you just don't know. You get somewhere new. And if you have a person that knows those things and it's really important to be able to reach out to.
Jon Nelson: See, he mentions, double cheeseburgers, and I haven't had lunch yet, as we're talking, just making me absolutely hungry. How hard was it for you in your first year as a head coach?
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: The first year in a new program is usually the toughest because your kind of you're wandering through a place that you're not really familiar with, and you get things to come your way that you haven't had the handle before. And then you've got to react to them. And you can ask for advice, but you've got to make the decision. So, I tell everybody, all my friends, you can make it through that first year if I could do a whole segment on things that went crazy the first year at Houston County high school. If you can make it through that first year, then, then you can survive anything. And so, I think that those first year’s kind of prepare you for the worst of the worst so that you can enjoy the good times to come.
Hannah Goodin: Well, you said you're 11, and you've gotten off to a great start so far 3 and 0 with a big win over Schley County, 17-0. I want you to break that one down, but I want to start defensively because you held Schley to -31 yards rushing. That's a pretty good number right there.
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Yeah. Our defensive group is a veteran group of people that played together a long time, and they kind of know how to fix problems on the field, and they play extremely hard and are physical. We've got guys that can run and just, just a lot of fun to be around every day and a lot of fun coach, staff coach Will Connor and our whole defensive staff, they do a phenomenal job of preparing these kids and hold them accountable for doing the right things. And I just couldn't be more proud of them. They are fun to watch.
Jon Nelson: Reclassification sent you back down to A. What is it been like with this new round of reclassification where you're now in Class A Division 1 as opposed to where you were before?
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: It's about the same, you know? I mean, it opens us up to be able to play some teams that we hadn't played in a few years, like Dublin. We're excited about that. You know, East Laurens been able to play those guys again. And then the bad thing is, you know, we were separated from Dodge. We're thankful we get to play them still because we're just right down the road from us. But so, it's exciting having a little bit of a different deal. You know, there are still really tough teams in both classifications. I mean, a lot of really good football teams are in this class and, you know, a lot of them are in this region. And so, we're excited about getting to play some new opponents, but also we understand the challenges ahead of us because of the caliber of teams that we're going to have to play.
Jon Nelson: How difficult was it for you to fill out a schedule because your region, you know, isn't in one of those at six or seven games or anything like that? You're almost to the point of being a mini region. How difficult was it for you to fill out your schedule?
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: It was really tough, you know. I think when you have success, and we've been fortunate to win a few games here, then it makes it tough to find the people that are close by that want to play because there are some smaller schools around that, you know, they're looking for wins, and they're not really looking for, you know, the play-to-play teams that are really good right now. And it's just tough, you know, and then you don't want to travel all over the world, which we are having to do a lot this year. And I want to keep travel to a minimum. And then, you know, it's just tough. It's really hard when you're trying to find that many games.
Hannah Goodin: I want to circle back and give your offense a shout out too. For the big game against Schley County, Jahvon Butler rushed for 172 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Big night for him. I guess, Tell me about your offense and what's working so far this year.
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Yeah, you know, we started out kind of slow, has some turnovers. We didn't score in the first half, and you know, Schley is a really good football team. Obviously, the coach Alford and his staff a phenomenal job there, but we were kind of sluggish. The ball was a little wet, we had some turnovers, and things just didn't go our way penalty-wise early on. But we did. We didn't run the ball well, and we did, you know, do some things that that helped get us in position to score a few points and just wasn't our best night. But it was still not a bad night by any means. And Jahvon played really well.
Jon Nelson: Von Lassiter, the head coach of the Bleckley County Royals, hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast for another couple of minutes. Two quick questions for me to wrap up. When it comes to what you're building, going back home, for those that don't know you're from Bleckley, you went back home to Cochran. You're now the head coach there. You started something that I thought was really cool and unique. You had Midnight Madness to start things off, for practice this year. What's been the response to Midnight Madness there at Bleckley?
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Our kids loved it. The parents thought I was crazy, you know because a lot of them had to go to work the next day. You know, we, you know, our kids really enjoyed it. It was cooler. It was it's been a hot summer. So, it was good to get out, you know, under the lights. And when it wasn't quite as hot, um, we got to feed our kids and hang out with them and, you know, help build those relationships that we, that we try to do. And, and then, you know, we, we started pre-planning that Monday, the day after, which was tough on our coaches, but it kind of gave us a day to get everything situated in the school building to start the school year off. So, it was a plus for everybody, and I don't know how it worked out again next year. I have to look at the dates, but I think that's something that we'll try to continue to do. Our kids are really excited about it. They really enjoyed it. And as long as they're having fun and we'll try to do it.
Hannah Goodin: Is this a midnight practice?
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: Oh. That's wild.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Legit. Yeah, midnight practice. You know, it's just like they do in college basketball. Hey, the first day, we'll do Midnight Madness. That's what they did this season.
Hannah Goodin: I'm asleep by, like, ten, so.
Jon Nelson: Well, she's got, twins. And so that's why, you know, that's why she's asleep by 10:00.
Hannah Goodin: That's late.
Jon Nelson: Last question for you, and thanks for hanging out at the end of recruiting 2022. We have Matt, Hannah, and I have a segment called Make that Kid an Offer. And what we like to do is focus on those student-athletes that are overlooked for whatever reason, you know, geography, classification, they're too whatever. And I'll just go ahead and use the air quotes. You know, they're not tall enough, they're not fast enough, whatever. Is there an athlete or athletes there on the roster this year or you'd like to sit there and raise your hand in the air and sit there and go Make that Kid an Offer or make that kid a better offer them what they currently have?
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Yeah, I've got. That's a great question, and I've hopefully got a great response for that. We've got really, really good players on our team, and we have one kid with, with an offer currently. And that's our free safety is offered to the Air Force. And that's the only offer he has right now. But I've got several I mean, I've got guys that are just dominant defensive players like Christian Newbern, Austin Johnson, Nehemiah Mack. Those guys are our players that can play at a very high level, and they love football, you know, and they're, you know, maybe a little undersized, maybe haven't gotten the looks they needed from, you know, people around. But they're guys that can really, really play, and they're going to make somebody really good football players. And then an offensive side. You know, we've got Jaden Mobley, who's a little bit of an undersized receiver, but he's got a lot of catches. And then Eli Mullis, who is our quarterback. He may play tight end at the next level, but he's just a really good player. And those are guys that in the old days before Transfer Portal would already have offers and already probably already be looking to commit to schools. But unfortunately, because of the way the transfer portal works, guys like that are the last ones to go because they're going to see what they can get in the portal first and then and then make the offer. So, but those guys, we've got several of those guys. We don't have a five-star on our team like we've had in the past. We've got just several guys that love each other, play hard together, and they're going to be really good college football players somewhere.
Hannah Goodin: Well, Coach Lassiter, that's great stuff. Thank you so much for your time today. Before we let you go, I have one request.
Jon Nelson: Uh, Oh, here we go.
Hannah Goodin: You got to tell Coach Harper that we said Hey.
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Yeah, I sure will. He's in there getting ready for our six-period weightlifting class right now, so I will. He'll be glad to hear from you guys for sure.
Jon Nelson: Mountain Dew in hand, I'm sure. Von, thanks for hanging out with us. We'll be keeping an eye on things down there in class A in Cochran. Thanks for hanging out.
Von Lassiter, Bleckley County Head Coach: Thanks. I enjoyed it as always.
Hannah Goodin: Well, that was fun.
Jon Nelson: It always is.
Hannah Goodin: Two besties in Middle Georgia.
Jon Nelson: Well Yeah. And that was the thing that got me was it's like, hey, wait a minute. It's just Jeremy just seamlessly leads us into our Von Lassiter interview.
Hannah Goodin: You could have just had him introduce him. Honestly.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, I know.
Hannah Goodin: I think that's what we should have done.
Jon Nelson: And here's our second guest, Von Lassiter, the head coach of the Bleckley County Royals. And I was very, very cool.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, that was awesome.
Jon Nelson: So, what's on your mind?
Hannah Goodin: Good job, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Oh, okay. So, Staff Whip Around. We got to do that.
Hannah Goodin: Staff Whip Around. Okay.
Jon Nelson: All right.
Hannah Goodin: We'll start with you.
Jon Nelson: Sure.
Hannah Goodin: Do we have tissues?
Jon Nelson: We don't need them.
Hannah Goodin: Hey, shout out to Osborne for beating Lakeside 55 to nothing.
Jon Nelson: It was 48-0 at the half, yes.
Hannah Goodin: What is. What is Osborne's record now?
Jon Nelson: Osborne, I think, is still undefeated.
Hannah Goodin: So, do we need to get the Osborne coach on?
Jon Nelson: We-Well, I mean, we had the Sprayberry coach on in the postgame show.
Hannah Goodin: What about the Osborne Coach?
Jon Nelson: I mean for Osborne? Traditionally, they win three or four games a year. This is something that Osborne is facing that is unfamiliar territory for them. I can't remember the last time that they had a start that was this good.
Hannah Goodin: Hold on. Efforting, efforting, looking.
Jon Nelson: This is what happens when we go to the-
Hannah Goodin: 2021 they were 1-8. 2020 1- 9, yeah. 0-10 10, 0 and 10, 0 and 9, 1 and 8. They had three wins in 2015.
Jon Nelson: Correct.
Hannah Goodin: This is a big deal.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. I mean, as I said, traditionally, three or four, four Osborne is a season that is above it above the pale for them. And so, this is the fact that they're out of the blocks. This way is even bigger for them.
Hannah Goodin: I take the crown this week. Lassiter beat Woodstock 64 to 14.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, because it was.
Hannah Goodin: I win the Staff Whip round.
Jon Nelson: I think it was 52 at one point. So now you just have the most offensive output this week for the Staff Whip Around.
Hannah Goodin: Sandy is not here to Decatur's loss to Greater Atlanta Christian 36 to 9. But we have someone new in the control room, Ambassador Jeremy.
Jon Nelson: Yes, Ambassador Jeremy Powell is one of the senior podcast gurus. So, and he's back in the back. He's got the newsboy cap. He's ready to go. And we have a new school that we can-.
Hannah Goodin: Darlington School.
Jon Nelson: The Darlington School out of single-A. So, Darlington has been ranked they are in class A Division 1. Jerry Sharp Field on the campus of the Darlington School they're 3 and 0 right now. They were off, so they didn't lose. They host Northwest Whitfield in a kind of one of those regional, regional rivalry games. So Northwest Whitfield heading to Darlington. So, Ambassador Jeremy has a battle of undefeated this week, so we'll get into that too.
Hannah Goodin: For James, Central Macon lost a Worth County 32 to 7.
Jon Nelson: Worth County has done really well this year.
Hannah Goodin: Jake, Parkview beat North Gwinnett.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, yeah.
Hannah Goodin: Obviously.
Jon Nelson: Because it was kind of like our game of the week, you know?
Hannah Goodin: It just was like, wait, there's no score uh, duh. We sat the entire first-.
Jon Nelson: That's because we better know the score of that one. The first segment of the show. Hannah all of a sudden has forgotten.
Hannah Goodin: I honestly, guys after Friday, I just erase the week from my mind, and I restart Monday like today I might as well just have not lived through the last month of high school football. I just start fresh. I only have so much mental capacity with twins. We get through the week, and it's like, okay, gone.
Jon Nelson: Uh huh.
Hannah Goodin: Next week.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, okay.
Hannah Goodin: I have to look at notes to, like, see what happened.
Jon Nelson: Okay. All right.
Hannah Goodin: My mind just goes blank. All right. Anyway, speaking of this, coming Friday.
Jon Nelson: There you go. All right. Here's your plug.
Hannah Goodin: Here's our Football Fridays in Georgia Game of the week, Lowndes versus East Coweta.
Jon Nelson: And that's going to be a fun one. Yeah. John Small has been building the program up there at East Coweta, there at East Coweta down in Senoia. And a lot of folks may remember Danny Cronic with his successes that he had at East Coweta. A lot of folks might remember a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons and at Georgia Tech, Keith Brooking from East Coweta. There was- Story time with Jon.
Hannah Goodin: Oh gosh.
Jon Nelson: When East Coweta made-.
Hannah Goodin: Two in one show.
Jon Nelson: I know one at one in the first block and one in the last block. But now it was funny when East Coweta made the semifinals. And, Brook, I think it just started his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He's on the sidelines, you know, East Coweta is in the semifinal. And they're having they're playing for a place in a championship game. And Keith, you know, he's not the smallest guy in the world. You know, as a pro linebacker, I think he was like 6'3" about 230 at the time. And so, imagine having a 6'3", 230-pound linebacker trying not to show his excitement when East Coweta does a good play, and it's like he's, you know, the flag gets thrown, the hat gets spiked, tug, you know, big positive play. He's like jumping up and down and everything. And I ended up doing an interview with him in like mid-game as he's trying to be a fan on the sidelines. And I said, you know, Brook, yeah, folks’ kind of know that you're here. You can't hide under your hat.
Hannah Goodin: You're 6'3".
Jon Nelson: You're 6'3", and everybody knows you in this town. So, it was kind of funny to get his reaction as a fan on the sidelines in that game. But yeah, it's like living with his heart on his sleeve when East Coweta made the semifinals. But no, it'll be good to have. I think it's the first time that we've had East Coweta on our air for Football Fridays and Lowndes with Zach Grage first-year head coach there, coming over from Thomasville, one of the forces in south Georgia coming north and that's going to be a fun one here on GPB TV's starting at 7:00 with Recruiting 2022 to kick off little after 7:30.
Hannah Goodin: And an announcement to make we are doing two web games this week.
Jon Nelson: I feel like we need a trumpet fanfare or something, you know.
Hannah Goodin: *Trumpet Impression*.
Jon Nelson: There you go. Okay, there's your-.
Hannah Goodin: Nailed it.
Jon Nelson: There you go. Nailed it.
Hannah Goodin: So, our web game series have been so successful.
Jon Nelson: The pluses have done well.
Hannah Goodin: We're trying to name a GPB Sports plus. But I got the red light that we're not there yet.
Jon Nelson: Okay.
Hannah Goodin: We're not — We can't call it that, yet. Okay. But we're working on it.
Jon Nelson: All right. So, it's a web game.
Hannah Goodin: So, Web game number one, Collins Hill versus Sandy Creek. We got Wiley Ballard on the mic. We got two Cameras.
Jon Nelson: Velvet Fog.
Hannah Goodin: So that's a good one. And then our single-camera web game number two is Prince Avenue Christian versus ELCA. So, you have three games coming at you from GPB that you can watch all simultaneously. So, you can go to GPB.org/sports towatch the streams, or download the GPB Sports app. That's a really good way to watch.
Jon Nelson: So, here's our request. We want to see your multiscreen experience. We want to see you with all three games in your viewing area your living room, your cave, and the office downstairs. Send us photos of you watching all of the games on GPB. Send those photos because we want to share them, and we want to show off your man cave, your cave, your office, and your living room. We want to show off those spaces, your TV room. Show us that you're watching all three games and what your configuration is. I think that's going to be a fun one with three games on GPB on Friday night.
Hannah Goodin: So, tweet us. Jon is on Twitter @OSG Nelson. I'm @HannahCGoodin. Don't forget to follow GPB Sports at GPB Sports on all social media. We got the TikToks; we got the Twitches. We've got Recruiting 2022, and we've got Countdown to Kickoff coming up Thursday live at noon. We have some new folks and new viewers in there this year. So, thanks, everybody, for watching and going along.
Jon Nelson: No doubt. Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: And of course, blogs are out. So lots, lots to do. Lots going on. That's the show, Jon.
Jon Nelson: That's the show. So, for now, let me get I going to get the list. Even though intern Stephen isn't here, I'm going to include him. And even since Commander Sandy isn't here, I'm going to include her.
Hannah Goodin: Might as well just include everyone out in the entire office.
Jon Nelson: That's what I — Yeah. For everybody here at GPB Sports, for intern Stephen, who's not here in the studio — for Commander Sandy, who's not here this week — for Chairman Jeremy Powell, who's here this week, Jake the Snake, King James, for Hannah. I'm just Jon. Thanks for hanging out with us here at GPB Sports. That's another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Play it safe, everybody. Enjoy the game.