Credit: Courtesy of LowndesFootball.com
Football Fridays In Georgia: Osborne's Strategy for Success and a Preview of the Winnersville Classic
Osborne has won more football games this year than they have won in the past seven years combined. On this week's Football Fridays in Georgia podcast, Hannah and Jon talk with Osborne Head Coach Luqman Salam about changes he's made to the program, in the lives of his players, and in the hearts of Osborne alumni. Plus, we preview the Winnersville Classic: Lowndes vs. Valdosta.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: I saw an opportunity to effect change in some young men, so I jumped at it.
Jon Nelson: Ooo, doggy. That's my take right there.
Hannah Goodin: How does this game rank on your all-time wildest game?
Jon Nelson: Jon's all-time wildest game list.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: It was kind of shocking, but it was swirling off.
Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us, however you are doing so — large device or small, on whichever social media platform or YouTube — however you are catching up with us, seeing that we are decked out in our GPB Sports golf shirts, ready to go for another round. And this one, as always, it's a fantastic show. Folks are getting into region play. We really enjoyed this one that we have — our guest this week for the anchor leg.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. Jon and I texted each other this morning, and we said, "Wear our black GPB Sports polos for good luck" after a wild week that was last week.
Jon Nelson: But I always wear my GPB polo.
Hannah Goodin: I know. I'm just joking. I matched you today. I wanted to be Jon today.
Jon Nelson: See. Wow. That's a dangerous proposition.
Hannah Goodin: All right, guys. On today's show, we're going to recap our game of the week. Take a look at what happened in a region opener around the rest of the state. Preview Week 7 by hearing from Osborne head coach Luqman Salam. And we'll also hear coach clips to get you ready for the Winnersvilllllle Classic.
Jon Nelson: Oh, all right. One more time. One more time. Can you do it one more time?
Hannah Goodin: Do you like that?
Jon Nelson: Yeah. One more time.
Hannah Goodin: I can't do it.
Jon Nelson: See, she does it once. She does it once!
Hannah Goodin: The Winnersvillllle Classic.
Jon Nelson: See? There you go.
Hannah Goodin: Got to go high at the end.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. See, when you tease something like that, that elevation, the Winnersville Classic.
Hannah Goodin: Okay, that was way, way better than mine. I'm going to leave that up to you from now on.
Jon Nelson: It's coming from the diaphragm, you know, from the deep recesses of the diaphragm, all of the deep recesses you're talking down here, it's very authoritative. The Winnersville classic, and this is where Ambassador Jeremy sits, and he makes all the echos, and he sounds like it's like classic, classic, classic, classic, classic.
Hannah Goodin: Or he's just in there rolling his eyes at us.
Jon Nelson: Probably more accurate.
Hannah Goodin: We've got some color on a movie set today here, studio. We've got a yellow helmet in a red helmet.
Jon Nelson: Well, it's new friends.
Hannah Goodin: New friends.
Jon Nelson: The new friends we have, as I pound, the one that is — I hit the one that is furthest away from me at arm's reach, courtesy of Coach Hammond out of Worth County, the Worth County Rams. And this one is for those who are watching the video version.
Hannah Goodin: That camera shot. Yes. Oh. Yeah. I'm blocking it.
Jon Nelson: This has to be an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman helmet or a linebacker helmet.
Hannah Goodin: All of the helmets.
Jon Nelson: Chewed up.
Hannah Goodin: It is, really.
Jon Nelson: This has a lot of paint that's been traded on this one. So, thanks to Coach Hammond down at Worth County for the addition here, and then the one closest to me is Screven County. Coach Duncan sent this one. So we have Screven County, we have Worth County, we have Sylvester and Sylvania. Sylvester and Sylvania. (Editor's note: I’m not sure what this is referencing. The schools with that name no longer have football teams, but I made sure they were spelled correctly.)
Hannah Goodin: Say that five times.
Jon Nelson: Sylvester and Sylvania. Sylvester and Sylvania.
Hannah Goodin: I mean, not actually, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Okay. Well, but once again, thanks to all the coaches across the state that send our new friends in. Oh, it's great. And we get to add them to the set downstairs for Football Fridays in Georgia. But once again, thanks to Coach Hammond, to Coach Duncan for Worth County and Screven County, added to the set downstairs at Georgia Public. Very, very cool.
Hannah Goodin: So, we're back to normal this Friday.
Jon Nelson: Are you sure?
Hannah Goodin: I think so. After what was a wild week last week with the threat of Hurricane Ian, we had games on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday. So, Jon, my question for you is, what was your take on how all of it went down and was there any unexpected fallout from the storm changes?
Jon Nelson: Biggest thing for me is just to give a lot of credit to everyone it takes to have a game pulled off. All the administrators, all the coaches, all of the fans, everyone that's attached to a game, officials, I mean, think about all the officials that were all around the state trying to make sure that they were properly staffed for all the games around the state. A lot of folks that make Football Fridays what they are had to juggle their lives to make sure that as many games as possible state are true to the schedule they could. You had games pushed two days ahead, and we caught up with Sean Calhoun at Colquitt, who did that. And then you had another 112, I think, that was pushed to Thursday.
Hannah Goodin: But with the dust being settled on all that, were there any difficulties looking back? Did you hear of anything that was kind of dramatic?
Jon Nelson: I legitimately haven't.
Hannah Goodin: I didn't either. And that's why I'm asking you.
Jon Nelson: And that's the thing.
Hannah Goodin: There's always drama around this kind of stuff. But I didn't hear much.
Jon Nelson: That's the key. I think that that's the biggest key in all of this is that you didn't have all of you, know, all of the chaos. It was chaos.
Hannah Goodin: It just wasn't outward.
Jon Nelson: Well, that could very well be true, too. But at the same time, because we didn't hear about it, I think that that speaks to everyone it takes to have a Football Friday in your individual area go the way that it did. And you've got to give as much credit to everyone across the board to make sure that the games happen the way they did. They went to the office flawlessly as possible. Everyone cooperated with everyone else, all the different aspects to make sure that you had everything from a ball boy too. Because you're talking to parents. You got to talk to parents about having a ball boy their day early or two days early.
Hannah Goodin: I don't think the ball boy was at the top of everyone's list.
Jon Nelson: No. No, what I'm saying is it's one of the moving parts.
Hannah Goodin: I know. I know, Jon.
Jon Nelson: All of the different moving parts.
Hannah Goodin: You've got to get that free hotdog at halftime.
Jon Nelson: Absolutely.
Hannah Goodin: I used to do that for my sister's soccer team.
Jon Nelson: But that's the thing. It's like all the different moving parts, something that we don't think about until it's there in front of us. I think that that's key. And the fact that everything went off as much without a hitch as possible, I think it speaks. And you got to give everybody here in the state a lot of credit.
Hannah Goodin: While we here at GPB shuffled our game. It was Thursday night, and went off without a dern hitch here.
Jon Nelson: Went off without a dern hitch.
Hannah Goodin: Number eight, Calhoun versus number one, Cartersville, and this one went to triple O.T.
Jon Nelson: Third overtime keeper, gamble. Gamble. Not going to get in. Calhoun has won and ended Cartersville's 62-game region winning streak.
Hannah Goodin: Unbelievable on the back of running back Caden Williams. The Yellow Jackets pulled it out 50 to 48 to win it. They go four and two on the season, Jon.
Jon Nelson: 36 for 169 on the day for our Georgia Cotton Commission player of the game. And you could tell in the interview for those that watch the game either Thursday or Friday or who have caught up and rewatched the game, just the emotion with these two great football towns. And you have a moment like Caden Williams, who was absolutely gassed.
Hannah Goodin: I mean, he was lights out.
Jon Nelson: But, you know, once again, you see the emotion that's attached to it, the win, what it meant, everything to these two towns. And you got to, I mean, five turnovers for Cartersville cost them four of them cost them early.
Hannah Goodin: Four in the first half.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, it was 28-7 at one point, 28-14 at the half, and holding on 5 minutes to go. I think it was tied. And you hold on, you got a free football, and it was just it was a crazy night. How late did you sleep on Friday morning?
Hannah Goodin: I didn't get home to like 1 a.m.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, I'm right there with you.
Hannah Goodin: We — I got to work at 9 a.m. for Countdown to Kickoff. I got home at 1 a.m.
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: I didn't fall asleep till like 2:30 a.m.
Jon Nelson: I'm right once again. I'm right there with you.
Hannah Goodin: And then I was up at 7 a.m. with the girls, so woof.
Jon Nelson: But once again, and you, we talk about all the moving parts that make a game day happen. Yeah, I think everybody here at Georgia Public Broadcasting should get an equal shout-out because every part of our lives shifted in an entire day, if not two to make sure that production trucks were in place, all the crews were in place, all the personnel was there to make sure that games could go off without a hitch on our end as well. So, everybody here at GPB gets a big shout-out as well for, you know, making it look as seamless as possible when sliding a game day.
Hannah Goodin: Quarterback Trey Townsend was 10 of 18, passing for 171 yards, two touchdowns, and scored on two QB sneaks. He had a big night as well. So, Jon, I want to ask you, how does this game rank on Jon's all-time wildest games list?
Jon Nelson: Jon's All-Time Wildest Game List. Something like that.
Hannah Goodin: Yes. You're own — your intro-ing your own list.
Jon Nelson: I am. I'm intro-ing my own list. But I don't —
Hannah Goodin: Should I give a shot at it?
Jon Nelson: I think you should.
Hannah Goodin: Jon's.
Jon Nelson: Jon's.
Hannah Goodin: All Time Craziest Game List. I —
Jon Nelson: Can we get some reverb on that in post? That'd be amazing. That'd be awesome. And so, if we see. Yeah, so we got Command, we got Ambassador Jeremy, and Jake the Snake giving the thumbs up on the reverb.
Hannah Goodin: They're giving thumbs down on all.
Jon Nelson: Oh, I'm giving an absolute thumbs up.
Hannah Goodin: So where does it, right?
Jon Nelson: You got to go with Cambridge and Johns Creek last year on Football Fridays.
Hannah Goodin: Okay, yeah.
Jon Nelson: I think Westminster and Blessed Trinity, the championship game from 2016 that went to overtime where you had the big comeback, and then it goes into overtime. Fantastic finish there as well. Probably — let's see, excitement. Yeah. I mean, I would probably say those three off the top of my head take last week and then add those first two off the top of my head just for sheer excitement value. I mean, that wasn't like a one that, that finished — that had a fantastic finish. I mean, there are other games that are exciting for various reasons, but those fantastic finishes would be the top three.
Hannah Goodin: Well, definitely keep that one on the list.
Jon Nelson: Keep that one on the list.
Hannah Goodin: Let's take a quick look around the rest of the state before we run out of time here in this intro. Let's start with the game in Lawrenceville between two unbeaten teams sitting at 5-0. They were sitting at 5 and 0. At the top of the Region 8 7A standings, Mill Creek — wow, this score — beat Central Gwinnett 58 to 7. It was also a battle for the early lead in Region 4 7A. Parkview beat South Gwinnett 41 to 7. Two of the three ranked teams in Region 1 6A were going at it: Lee County beat Houston County 50 to 21. Then, in Region 8 3A, Hebron Christian, under first-year head coach Jonathan Gess, is 6 and 0 for the first time ever with a 35 to 28 win over Oconee County. And it's the first — was the first-ever meeting between Callaway and Columbia in Region 5 2A. The Cavaliers defeated the Eagles 32 to 12. Our web game was Roswell versus Blessed Trinity. Roswell blanked them 26 to 0. So, Jon, the theme of this scoreboard is that region play is an eye opener for some of these teams that have been doing so well. What was your take across the board this week?
Jon Nelson: Whoo, doggy, that's my take right there.
Hannah Goodin: We are never going to get through this.
Jon Nelson: No, we're not. No, just when you look at a lot of these heavyweight battles, I mean, it was, I think it was games where Central Gwinnett will learn from what happened. I think a house and county will learn and take the evidence at Columbia will learn. They've had fantastic starts, all three of those just as examples. And although the result didn't go the way that you were anticipating or that you would have liked, at the end of the day, I think that you take these lessons early and region play. And yes, the team that won has a bit of an inside track on getting that top seed and all of the home games that you want if you're going to make a deep playoff run. But take those examples, take what you learned from these, apply it forward because you still have a handful of games left in your region schedule to chase after that, too, and possibly chase after the one if you get upset that's above you in the table there in the region standings. So, I think it's just lessons learned. And you sit there, and you take the film, you take your huddle, and you learn from it and go forward for the balance of season two.
Hannah Goodin: So, week one of region play in the book, the second week we've got a big Region 5 7A battle between North Cobb and Walton coming up this Friday on GPB. We will preview that one later in the show, as well as one of the state's biggest rivalries. We mentioned it at the top.
Jon Nelson: Yes, you did.
Hannah Goodin: The Winnersville classic between Lowndes and Valdosta.
Jon Nelson: Reverb, please.
Hannah Goodin: Jon, talk to both coaches. So, we'll hear from them in just a little bit. But our Web game this week is also another region 5 7A, a matchup first region game for each of the teams, both five and no. That's Kennesaw Mountain versus Osborne.
Jon Nelson: Really looking forward to this one for a bunch of different reasons. My history with Kennesaw Mountain head coach Caleb Carmean goes back to his time as a football player at Shorter University and Story Time with Jon. Very Quick, I hosted the Shorter University Coaches Show when they were in the I.A. and had playoff berths, and Caleb was a part of that roster. So, to see him carry on as a head coach now at Kennesaw Mountain to see what he's been able to do there has been really cool. And then, we add the coolness factor of what is going on at Osborne. I think it's Osborne. Traditionally in Cobb County, you know, if you look at five wins and that's something that happens over a span of seasons total, but to see that the start that they have had under head coach Luqman Salam has been very, very cool to see and it really, really was great to catch up with Coach Salam. Here is our conversation with the man who's going to be hosting Kennesaw Mountain on an early region battle.
Hannah Goodin: Hey, Coach Salam. So, this is your second year at Osborne. You went one and eight last season; now you're 5 and 0. That's the most win since 2009. What's your secret this year? What's been the biggest difference with the team?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: I really think just kind of our togetherness, obviously, our maturation in terms of what we understand and what we can do. We've been a very young team for the last two years. Two years ago, the year before I got there, they had to start a lot of freshmen. And last year, we were playing with a lot of sophomores. And in fact, our offensive line was a freshman and four sophomores. And so now we're a little older second year, kind of doing a lot of the similar things. We have also been able just to get them to get bigger, faster, and stronger. And then, we've beefed up even our coaching staff, staff of having seven coaches to have 12 coaches and being able to just kind of function a little bit better. Our numbers are bigger. When I first got here on my first day in the weight room, we had about 24 kids in the weight room on the first day of spring practice, about 27 and 30 kids at spring practice. And now our numbers are up to in the eighties and nineties. And so, we were just able to function a lot better as a team, and that's kind of led to some early success.
Jon Nelson: Did you have a gut feeling in the summer and leading into scrimmages in August that this could be a team that really could come out of the blocks the way that they have?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: I knew we were better. I knew that our kids had grown, and their understanding had grown. But you never know. I mean, you know, you start playing games, and you start doing things. I was I can say I was pleasantly surprised. In our first game against Woodstock, we really felt that that was going to be a tough football game for us to win. And to win, and in the matter that we did, was — was — was — was kind of shocking. But it was really thrilling, also.
Hannah Goodin: Well, it seems like you love Cobb County football. You're an alumni player at Campbell, then you coached at Wheeler, and you were a longtime DC at Hillgrove? What is it about Cobb County football that's so appealing to you, and what have you learned the most along the way?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Yeah, I think Cobb County just has a great mix of kids, a great mix of coaches. You know, Cobb County boasts some really high academic standards. And so, I think what you have is you've got a great community in Cobb County all across the board, all across the county. And obviously, being a large county and having so many schools, there are 15, 16 high schools. You know, you're just in a great pool of athletes, and it just makes for some really great football. And so, just being a resident of Cobb County all these years, it's lovely just to be a part of that whole process of high school football and education in Cobb County.
Jon Nelson: Why take the jump from being a longtime coordinator to being a head coach then, meaning before the beginning of last season, what was the trigger in your brain to say, okay, I think I want to be a head coach now, and I want to do it at a program that has had a lot of difficulties, frankly, in their regular seasons. What caused the jump in your brain to go from coordinator to head coach?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Well, I mean, some natural events. So, you know, when I got to Hillgrove, my son was a kindergartner. And when I left Hillgrove, he graduated from high school.
Hannah Goodin: Wow.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: So, you know, I was at Hillgrove, was in a good place. My son was happy, my kids were happy, and everybody was good. He was progressing a lot. He started making friends and start playing ball. And I wasn't going to uproot that. The other part of it was, and I coached some great guys, and I worked for a great head coach, and you know, the head coaching part of it is great, and it's wonderful. But, you know, having that kind of family-like atmosphere, that kind of community was special to me. And so, I wasn't in a rush to go be a head coach, but I did also feel like I had something to offer students that were coming from a background similar to me, and we had that at Hillgrove, maybe not in quantity. And so, seeing an opportunity, I saw an opportunity at Osborne where the job came up, and I heard about the kids and the community and all those things. And obviously, I knew because I was from down the street. All right. So, you know, I coached to impact something, positive young men. And so, I saw an opportunity to do that regardless of what their record was, how many ballgames they won. You know that that was important to me, and it was a huge challenge. But, uh, I saw an opportunity to effect change and some young men. And so, I jumped at it.
Hannah Goodin: You're not only 5-0. I know you're putting up huge offensive numbers holding teams to 14 points or less. You've scored 55 points against Jon's alma mater, Lakeside. Tell me about- tell me about what's making your team go this year, and maybe brag on some of your playmakers that our audience might not know about.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Yeah, I think, you know, all the things that we talked about already have paid dividends, but we do have some explosive players; our running back, Khalif Walters, has had a wonderful first start to the season, got almost 700 yards on the ground. He's that he doesn't pack a lot of size, but he impacts the speed. And so, when he gets himself in space, he's a problem. I've got another senior wide receiver who's about a 6' 3", 210 to 225-pound kid who's a problem and also has big play capability. Quarterbacks really come along and gain some confidence and Edward Burr as an as a junior and a first-year starter. And so, all those things have played dividends for us. The offensive line, you know, their maturation, all of that has been really good for us. And then, I brought in a legendary play-caller, a legendary coach, and Coach Ironside.
Jon Nelson: Mm-hmm.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: He is. I've said these many times. To me in my opinion, I work for him at Hillgrove. He's one of the special coaches in our state. So, when I was able, he was willing to come to Osborne and pour into this community and into this team. From a coaching standpoint, it was just it was a no-brainer because of the impact that he has on our kids, our Offense, our coaches, and our school. It's just tremendous. So, I think all those things were one of the reasons why we have seen the success we have on the offensive side of the ball.
Jon Nelson: What was that conversation like with you and Coach Ironside? Was it like, do you want to come back to Cobb County? Do you want to be my coordinator? What was it? How long did it take him to say yes? When you first reached out?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: It took a while.
Hannah Goodin: I was going to say you probably thought about it for a bit.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Yeah, he thought about it for a while, but not really. You know, Coach has that type of humble heart. You probably go anywhere you wanted to go. People would love to have Coach Ironside on his staff anywhere in the state. Where he was, he was doing just fine, having some success. But I think our friendship kind of brought us back together again. We really enjoyed our time together. He'll grow and he was looking to kind of get back to the metro area, and he's just that guy. So, he saw the same opportunities I did, which was pouring into some young men who needed it. And so, he said, "Oh, I'm in," and it didn't take a whole lot of arm turning by me. And I'm just so glad that he decided to come. I'm glad he's standing on our sideline.
Hannah Goodin: Well, you guys have certainly done a spectacular job so far this season. You just had a by-week before heading into your region opener, the Region 5 7A opener between another 5 and 0 teams against Kennesaw Mountain. It's our GPB web game of the week. We are so excited to feature this one; preview this game for us. What are the keys to victory to get you guys at 6 and 0?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Yeah, they're a very good football team, an extremely talented football team. They've got Power Five commits all over the field, and you know, they're special on offense and some of the things that they can do and very explosive. So, we've got a-we got a difficult task in front of us. We haven't played a team that has this level of talent. And I think the key for us is to be us. We've got to continue to play hard-nosed, tough defense. We've got to get the ball into our playmakers' hands and give them an opportunity to make plays. And I think that's the big thing. I think when we get to games like this. You don't try to reinvent yourself. You are who you are. You'd be the best version of that. And usually, things turn out okay.
Jon Nelson: If you win one more game this season, you will have matched the win total at that school from 2015 to 2021. What has the response in the community been like with this? With the way the season has gone so far, what is it been like there in the Osborne community to sit there and see this success? Where right now, you're, I mean, you don't play another game. You don't win another game. You're at .500. Most wins that the program has had, I think, since '94. What is the response been like in the community with this response that you and Coach Ironside, and the staff, and the players have all put in this season at Osborne?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Oh, well, I'll tell you by telling this little story, and I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds here, but —
Jon Nelson: We won't tell anybody if you do.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: I was talking to another coach, and his wife is an Osborne alum. And he told his wife, "Hey, I'm on the phone with Coach Salam." And she said, "You tell Coach Salam I'm proud to be a Cardinal." And he said, "I promise you, that is the first time I have ever heard her say that."
Jon Nelson: Wow.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: The response has been tremendous, especially from the alumni and people from the Osborne community. People who graduated in '88 and '78. And I had a school secretary reach out to me and say, "Coach, we're coming to the game. We're the class of 1988, and give us a shout-out." And so, it's been awesome. Just the positive energy that surrounds our program right now. Our boys deserve it. They work so hard. They're so, you know, so humble that they're appreciative, which is something that sometimes is rare to find. Our kids just, you know, you tell them, hey, this is what we've got to do, and they're willing to do it because they're so, so hungry to do something and have something positive. And that’s really refreshing. I'm really having a great time. We've got a great coaching staff. We just got good people around our program with a great attitude. And so, it's been a very wonderful journey so far.
Jon Nelson: So then, my last question for you has to do with our recruiting show, Recruiting 2022. And traditionally, at the end of the show, every single week with Hannah, Matt Stewart, and myself, we have the segment called "Make that Kid an Offer." And I know that you've bragged on some of your players already, this in this particular show. Is there someone that is a senior that, for whatever reason, overlooked, they're not tall enough, they're not big enough, they're not thick enough, you know, one thing or the other? They're overlooked. And, you know, they're passed over for whatever reason. Is there anyone on your roster that you would sit there and put your hand in the air in the other hand in your heart and sit there and go Make this Kid an Offer or Make that Kid a Better Offer? Who would fit that? Who would fit that profile for you there this year?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Well, there are those two kids that I mentioned; Khalif Walters is a football player. Regardless of his size. He can really scoot. He can put one foot in front of the other. And he's a football player, true and true. And I think that's important. And you can recruit a body and recruit an athlete, but you better recruit a kid that you got playing football. And that's Khalif Walters and then also Josh. Joshua Horton, who has some offers, but he needs bigger offers this year because he's a great kid and a great student. He has a 3.8 GPA. He's not done growing. He's 6' 3", over 200 lb., size 16 shoe, and can run and catch a football. And just the character of the kid, he's a guy you need on your campus. And both of those kids, in my opinion, are our guys that we're hoping that get bigger offers, better offers, more offers. Just because they're just tremendous kids and tremendous athletes have got to be really good football players at the next level.
Jon Nelson: How hard is it to find a size 16 cleat?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Really hard. It's really hard to find cleats and shoes. And Coach and I went fishing over the break, and we said, let's stop over here, see if we can find Josh some shoes, and it was hard. It was really hard, but he's a great kid. He really is. And I think he's going to be special on the next level.
Jon Nelson: So, you know you've opened the door for the next conversation because you mentioned you and the coach. You and Coach Ironside went fishing?
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Yes.
Jon Nelson: Okay. So well, we'll save that for the next conversation.
Hannah Goodin: Part 2.
Jon Nelson: Who's the better angler between the two of you? Coach Salam, thanks for hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. We cannot wait to show you your game with Kennesaw Mountain this week. Great things going on at Osborne. Thanks for hanging out with us here on the show.
Luqman Salam, Osborne Head Coach: Thank you.
Jon Nelson: Okay. So once again, storytime, two, with Jon.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, man.
Jon Nelson: The irony here, and we actually have an irony alert today where Coach Ironside, longtime head coach at Hillgrove, started the program. Now, after Hillgrove, he goes to Worth County, and he's coaching.
Hannah Goodin: Does that happen? It's like you planned it.
Jon Nelson: I did. I absolutely planned it. But and so, he had two seasons. I want to say it Worth county as the head coach now. He's back in Cobb County as an assistant at Osborne. So, the circle of life in Georgia high school football in con-. It includes not conclude. It includes the new toys and our new friends. So, here you go. New friend Philip and coach Ironside with his previous stop before he came back to Cobb County to hang out with Coach Salam at Osborne.
Hannah Goodin: That's such a cool story, too, that Coach Salam was working for him, and now he's working for Coach Salam. And it's just that it really is. I never thought I would say that about Osborne, but it's really coming full circle. It's a really cool story.
Jon Nelson: How do you figure that conversation went? Coach. Hello? Coach, I want to know.
Hannah Goodin: Are you still there, coach?
Jon Nelson: Hello, yeah, one of those.
Hannah Goodin: I love it. All right, well, one of the biggest rivalry games of the year is being played Friday.
Jon Nelson: It's the Winnersville Classic.
Hannah Goodin: I just can't do it anymore. A battle in between 6 and 0 Valdosta and 3 and 2 Lowndes. This one usually determines the leader in rRegion 1 7A, one of the toughest regions in the entire state.
Jon Nelson: In the entire planet.
Hannah Goodin: On the Earth.
Jon Nelson: Yes, on the Earth. One of the toughest regions on the earth. And it was, you know, if you don't have a ticket, you ain't getting a ticket. And this is at Martin Stadium on the campus of Lowndes High. If you don't have a ticket, you might be able to get on campus to tailgate if you get there early enough. And I think that the way that it works is that they have to clear everyone at the end of the school day. Whenever that is, everybody gets off campus. Then, they let folks in to start tailgating. So, you're probably talking 4:00 p.m. for an 8:00 p.m. start to start finding parking spaces. So, if you don't have a ticket, you're in trouble. If you don't line up early to find a parking space on campus, you're in trouble. And I mean, there are folks who are probably parking down the road around the corner. There are a couple of malls, like maybe a half a mile, quarter to a half a mile down the road.
Hannah Goodin: Wow.
Jon Nelson: That, you know, might let you park there. See, I'd love to know what the parking situation is off-campus. On campus, it's tight enough as it is. So, if you on your Friday night, if you are driving down I-75 or driving up I-75 and you see around the exit, I think it's like exit 18, all these bright lights. That's Martin Stadium. I want to know what the parking situation is. I want to know if folks are like on the grass.
Hannah Goodin: Pulled over for sure.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Like that. No, I'm serious. People will pull over on the freeway to get the vibe of the game seriously because it's right there. That's the stadium that's right there that you pass by when you're in the Valdosta city limits. It is right there. Do not be surprised if, in the northbound lanes, people have pulled over to the side of the road to get the vibe of this game because they're not allowed on campus and don't have a ticket.
Hannah Goodin: Well, Jon caught up with both coaches earlier this year in Valdosta head coach Shelton Felton described how tough of a region this is and what his expectations are for this region's schedule. Let's listen in.
Shelton Felton, Valdosta Head Coach: We're in a tough region now. I thought the process is a little unfair at times. We are 7A, but at the same time, if we're an A, we're going to play Lowndes. If we are an AA, we're going to play Colquitt, so it doesn't matter. It is the oldest rivalry in South Georgia. So, we're going to play with each other. But we will look we look forward to the challenge. I think our region is strong from top to bottom. Camden and Richmond Hill in the region. I think it is a tough region. Like I tell the guys, the SCC of the South is going to be tough. The biggest thing about the region is, you know, we are only five schools in the south rather than the north. It's a lot of traveling wear and tear, but we look forward to the challenge.
Jon Nelson: And on the flip side of this is the coaching tree of Rush Propst. Three coaches in the same region, two of them going against each other.
Hannah Goodin: All friends.
Jon Nelson: In the Winnersville classic, Zack Grage, Shelton Felton, everybody's on the same speed dial. And Sean Calhoun, the head coach at Colquitt, is the third. By the way, coach Hammond at Worth is also a part of this discussion. That he's part of the Rush coaching tree, but we caught up with Zach Grage to get his vibe on what it's like to be coaching against your friends.
Zach Grage, Colquitt County Head Coach: But I would think that some kind of record, especially kind of where we all are in our careers and our paths to get there. You know Sean and Shelton, and I was altogether in 2014 at Colquitt. Sean stayed that next year. Coach Felton and I left that season, didn't stay for 15 years, but, you know, Felt and I, up until this point, really almost spoke about every day through his trials in Chattanooga and Akron and Tennessee and just working all the way through. And then, you know, I stayed in the high school ranks, but, you know, Sean and I have stayed in touch as well. I think we really kind of reconnected. Chase Parrish actually played quarterback. We went to his wedding. Rush was there was kind of — you know, matching back up was kind of fun. But, you know, you have that it's still about Valdosta and Lowndes, it's still about Colquitt and Lowndes. And that's what's going to be, you know, the game. But then you know, you definitely want those bragging rights for 364 days.
Hannah Goodin: They also talked about lessons they both learned from Coach Propst and Coach Grage learned to hire the best people you possibly can and then let them work.
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: And Coach Felton said Rush taught him to think outside the box that things can be unlimited when you think bigger than what the picture presents itself. And he also learned to never give up on a single kid. So, some good lessons from Coach Propst there.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And I will try and track down Rush for my weekly column and see what his thoughts are on Region 1 7A and on the Winnersville Classic.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, and the coaching tree all up under him. I want to hear about that, too, Jon.
Jon Nelson: No doubt It's going to be fun.
Hannah Goodin: I'll be your first reader.
Jon Nelson: Yes. So, she'll be my proofreader this week for that one.
Hannah Goodin: You don't want me doing that. No, no, no. Send that to Commander Sandy.
Jon Nelson: Yes, we'll do that. All right. So, what else is on the line?
Hannah Goodin: Preview our game of the week again. Region 5, Region 5. How many A's?
Jon Nelson: Seven.
Hannah Goodin: I have one A on here, and I knew that that is not correct.
Jon Nelson: That is not correct. No.
Hannah Goodin: 3 and 2, North Cobb versus 4 and 1 Walton going at it. Thoughts on this one, Jon? Well, what is the storyline of the week?
Jon Nelson: Well, Walton won 51-49 over North Paulding last week. So, you wonder what recovery is going to be like, and you got that extra day, which may help. And you got North Cobb, who was off after being on Football Fridays two weeks ago. So, when you get to a matchup like this, that can be the early marker for region play against teams. That team in Walton that really puts up a lot of points when given a chance to, and then a team in North Cobb that you know likes to work right now on the twenties as you're trying to figure out what it's like with a very young quarterback, with a sophomore quarterback who's taking over from Malachi Singleton. So, does the game get out of the twenties? If the game gets out of the twenties, does Walton end up with things more their way? If it stays in the twenties, it's tough on defense. Is it more North Cobb's way? So, I think that that's the question and the conundrum that we face in this one.
Hannah Goodin: My Zoom interview this week has been confirmed.
Jon Nelson: Ben Hall, is it?
Hannah Goodin: North Cobb, Ben Hall. So, that'll be great on Recruiting 2022 as well. Okay, Staff Whip around time.
Jon Nelson: Go for it. Staff Whip Around.
Hannah Goodin: Darlington is in the lead. They're 6 and 0 remains the only undefeated in the group after 38 to 7 wins over Coosa.
Jon Nelson: Yes, so you know Darlington, once again they've had to play. I mean, they played a team out of Pennsylvania earlier this year.
Hannah Goodin: Jeremy said, we want to get them on the one of the Web games. So, we're petitioning Kevin to get it as a web game.
Jon Nelson: Okay. So, Ambassador Jeremy, he's out of the blocks as the only undefeated survivor. So, you won the survivor pool.
Hannah Goodin: I mean, he has a strong take on it.
Jon Nelson: And I bet he does.
Hannah Goodin: We can't get Lassiter on. Lassiter 3 and 2, but they got a big win, 23-20 over John's Creek. Lakeside wins.
Jon Nelson: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hang on. I'm trying to figure out whom Lasseter's playing this week because I thought I saw that Lasseter had a heavy-duty opponent.
Hannah Goodin: Efforting.
Jon Nelson: You're not going. Oh, yeah. Roswell is at Lasseter.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, that's right.
Jon Nelson: That's right. Yeah, because we talked to Coach Prewett from Roswell.
Hannah Goodin: And we told him to go. I told him to go easy on my Trojans.
Jon Nelson: No, no, you did. Yeah, he says, look, he said he's going to look out for you. We'll see what happens.
Hannah Goodin: He said, I quote, "We'll take care of them." Yes. Yes, Coach, you will. That was on the — that was on the post-game.
Jon Nelson: Uh huh.
Hannah Goodin: Okay. Am I — can I go along?
Jon Nelson: Yes, you can. You can continue.
Hannah Goodin: Next?
Jon Nelson: Next. Yes.
Hannah Goodin: Okay. Lakeside, 4 and 2, they win 40 to 14 over Johnson out of Gainesville.
Jon Nelson: Johnson Gainesville. Yeah. And Johnson Gainesville, 4 and 2 with a non-region schedule. So, it's still a work in progress for you and your best friend Morris Starr, the head coach at Lakeside.
Hannah Goodin: Got to love him.
Jon Nelson: Who's next on the list?
Hannah Goodin: Who's next? Parkview, 5 and 1.
Jon Nelson: Parkview is five and one, nice.
Hannah Goodin: Beat South Gwinnett, 41 to 7. We talked about that game.
Jon Nelson: Had Head coach Godfrey in the postgame show, too.
Hannah Goodin: Yes, we did.
Jon Nelson: Uh-huh.
Hannah Goodin: Decatur.
Jon Nelson: Uh-oh, here we go.
Hannah Goodin: 2 and 4.
Jon Nelson: All right, Commander Sandy, what's going on?
Hannah Goodin: But —
Sandy Malcolm: They got the win.
Hannah Goodin: They got the homecoming win.
Sandy Malcolm: They got the win.
Jon Nelson: Homecoming win?
Sandy Malcolm Yeah. Yeah. Tucker, now in their region, which is kind of kind of different.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And, you had a Friday night game.
Hannah Goodin: Yes.
Sandy Malcolm: Homecoming, so I guess they figured they were going to, you know, tough it out.
Jon Nelson: Okay.
Hannah Goodin: Weathered the storm, Region 4 5A.
Jon Nelson: I get it.
Hannah Goodin: 53 to 28. And finally, I don't want to call it the loser. That's not right.
Jon Nelson: The only one who did not win. How about that?
Hannah Goodin: Well, Sandy does have written that it, you know, the loser of the week.
Jon Nelson: So, this is King James?
Hannah Goodin: What I meant like Central Macon is the last team on our staff whip-around list.
Jon Nelson: Right.
Hannah Goodin: 1 and 5.
Jon Nelson: King James.
Hannah Goodin: They were blanked.
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: 47 to 0 by Northeast.
Jon Nelson: Yep.
Hannah Goodin: Tough loss.
Jon Nelson: Well, Northeast Macon's a very good team. Northeast Macon is a very good team in middle Georgia that kind of flew below the radar last year. So, I want to see if it was a bit of a rough start for them this year. But once again, we talk about season one leading to season two. I want to see if Northeast Macon continues to do what they did last season if they do a repeat of that this season and I'm sorry, King James, that Central Macon was in the way this past week.
Hannah Goodin: So, King James.
Jon Nelson: Mmhmm, yeah.
Hannah Goodin: At the end of the race —
Jon Nelson: It is. It was not a.
Hannah Goodin: Jeremy. What are we calling Jeremy? Commander Jeremy. No. Ambassador.
Jon Nelson: Ambassador.
Hannah Goodin: Ambassador Jeremy is at the top of the list.
Jon Nelson: Yes. No, it was not. It was just because Central Macon was the last school we were talking about. It was not a reflection of them being last.
Hannah Goodin: But they are on our list.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, they're on the list.
Hannah Goodin: Hey, did we ever get any reviews last week on the podcast, Sandy? Ah. Oh, man.
Jon Nelson: So, leave us a review.
Hannah Goodin: Leave us a review, please.
Jon Nelson: Leave us a seven-star review, please.
Hannah Goodin: A good review.
Jon Nelson: Yes. Yes. Good reviews are always welcome.
Hannah Goodin: Jon is sensitive.
Jon Nelson: Yes, a very. Especially after sunburn on the top of my head. All right, so great. Because seven stars, a seven or eight-star review. Tell us a cool and positive thing. So, please leave us a review when it comes to the podcast.
Hannah Goodin: All right. We're out of time — our Football Friday game of the week is North Cobb vs. Walton.
Jon Nelson: We just started.
Hannah Goodin: Friday at 7:30 p.m. Web game Kennesaw Mountain vs Osborne simultaneous live streaming GPB dot org or the GPB sports app. Don't forget Countdown to Kickoff every Thursday with Jon and me. We recap. We preview. We have fun with everybody in the Facebook comment section live on GPB Facebook Live. That's Thursday at noon.
Jon Nelson: Mm-hmm. That is true. So, it's time for me to look at everybody and turn to my right. So, that means for everyone behind the glass. Let's see. Jake the Snake, Ambassador Jeremy, Commander Sandy, King James, and Hannah, I'm just Jon. Enjoy your games, everybody. Play it safe. That's another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here at GPB.