Football Fridays in Georgia: A Cook vs. Fitzgerald Regional Showdown Preview and a Regions Champs Review from Across the State
On this week's podcast, Hannah and Jon discuss our web game of the week, the big Region 1-AA showdown, with Cook Coach Byron Slack and Fitzgerald Coach Tucker Pruitt. They also review the regional champs that have already been crowned from across the state.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Makes you evaluate everything in your life and how you go about it on a daily basis.
Hannah Goodin: Jon, what's on the line in this one?
Jon Nelson: Everything.
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Some people have said, we're defending champions. This is a new year and a new team and a new challenge.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: A good tail whipping can make you learn a lot of lessons. Personally, I learned a lot when I win.
Jon Nelson: And 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, GPB, GPB.org, and the GPB Sports app. Or choose all of the above. As you can see this week, I am in the studio by myself. James, can we go to a wide shot just to prove it?
Hannah Goodin: I'm sorry, Jon.
Jon Nelson: King James, master of the ones and twos. Here we go. There it is. I am by my lonesome here in the Football Fridays in Georgia Podcast Studios here at GPB Radio as I withdraw my hands closer to my person. Hannah's not here. So, if you would please explain, young lady, why you are not accompanying the show here in person. Please, could you explain that?
Hannah Goodin: Well, I'm on baby duty today, so I've got I've got the twins today, and I couldn't make it into the office, so I am in my closet once again. You guys know I'm good for this at least once or twice a year.
Jon Nelson: She needs to take a picture of this and posted to social media. So, Hannah Goodin, large market anchor, sports anchor of the year from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters: Congratulations.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, thanks, Jon. I wasn't going to say anything, so making me blush.
Jon Nelson: Why would you not? It's an award.
Hannah Goodin: Well, I was truly really honored. It was shocking. I was not expecting it. So, it was a really fun night. The Grand Hyatt down in Buckhead, and we had the sports team there. We had Lori Cover, producer and Kevin, Boss. We missed you and Matt because you guys were doing something special, too. Adam and Burt were there, and it was just a fun night of dinner and celebration. It was actually my first Gabby Awards that I went to, so I had to get up on stage and thank goodness you warned me I didn't have to give a speech because that would have just been a wreck so well.
Jon Nelson: And also GPB Sports won for Recruiting 2021 also for best sports program. So, a big evening for us here at GPB. And so take note.
Hannah Goodin: And you and Matt were at the High School Hall of Fame.
Jon Nelson: We were both going to sit here and say, okay, so Commander Sandy, I think next year I think we need to submit the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast for the Gabby Awards. I think we need to do that next year.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah.
Jon Nelson: Let's do that.
Sandy Malcolm: For sure.
Hannah Goodin: I agree.
Jon Nelson: But no. Yeah. Matt and I were at the inaugural Georgia High School football players version of the Hall of Fame, and that was over at the College Football Hall of Fame. And a lot of inductees, 45 inductees, all nine of the NFL Hall of Famers went in this group. We had 36 inductees, and a little more than half of them were there to be able to accept their jackets and their medals and their plaques. And it was a it was a big night across the board. Got to catch up with Champ Bailey, Bill Curry, Herschel Walker was inducted. Terence Edwards was inducted. His brother Robert, who will be in short order, was there to put the jacket on him. They ran some smack on each other on stage. Matt was there to host along with Bill Hartman, one of the true icons in this industry. Great evening there at the College Football Hall of Fame for the inaugural class of the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame. So, it was very, very cool stuff. So yeah, we were we were a couple of different directions doing things on Saturday night. But Hannah is the one that got the awards and got the Solo Anchor Award.
Hannah Goodin: I know, I know. Well, thank you, Jon. I am honored and humbled, but it was a big night for both of us. And we've got a big show coming up.
Jon Nelson: How's that for a transition?
Hannah Goodin: On today's show, we're going to recap our Football Fridays in Georgia game of the week, which is Carrollton versus Westlake. Take a look at what happened around the rest of the state. Previews Friday's matchup between Hughes and South Paulding. And we will talk to our Web game coaches Fitzgerald, Head Coach Tucker Pruitt, and Cook Head Coach, Byron Slack. And Jon, it's Coach Slack's first time on the show, so that'll be a really good interview.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And for those who don't know Adel, fantastic community down there at Cook and the Hornets and I've had the pleasure of catching up with their play by play guy Doc Mike McCartney for the weekly column. But this will be the first time that we've had a Cook coach on the show to talk about a big game in Region 1 2A coming up this week. You can catch that one on GPB dot org as well. So, what's on your mind about the week that was him?
Hannah Goodin: Well, yeah. Let's start by recapping our game. It was a Region 2 7A battle between Carrollton and Westlake at the Lion's Den. The Trojans kept their winning streak alive. They are now 9 and 0 on the year. 4 and 0 all time versus Westlake and clinch their 32nd Region Championship. With the 28 to 19 win, our Cotton Commission Player of the game was running back Bryce Hicks, who rushed 29 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns.
Jon Nelson: You've got another region title. I know that that's only part of what you're chasing after this year. When you look back to what you've accomplished so far, what have you thought about what you guys have been able to do?
Bryce Hicks: Just being able to overcome our hate in the beginning of the season. Everybody say we were too young. We weren't going to be that good, but we now know we're not. You know, hey, we're doing good in the season so far. So, I'm just going to go keep working and we ready for coming this week.
Hannah Goodin: And freshman quarterback Juju Lewis, he had a really tough game Jon. He was 10 to 25 passing for 123 yards and three interceptions. One was a pick six. What was your assessment of his game?
Jon Nelson: Well, that one it was. And that was a point that we made on the postgame show, you're getting to see a very talented freshman learn in real time. The first interception literally was the pick six from Avieon Terrell that made them down seven nothing in the first quarter. Went through a couple of sets of hands, so it was deflected. Terrell had the presence of mind to grab it and go the other way. So, it was seven nothing. Think about this. It was seven nothing, and then just as quickly, Carrollton took control of the game, had to lead 14 seven and they led 21 seven at the half. There were some chances there that weren't closed in by Rico Zachary and Westlake. And then, you know, it gets close, it gets to 12 and then it gets to nine. And so, you end up with a 28-19 final. So, now Westlake still one of the top teams here in 7A. But you got to see this offensive of Carrollton. And it could have been a larger margin had they hit a couple of field goals, too. So, nine was your final margin. Could have been 15. And I'm sure that Joey King is going to have a lot to work on this week with his Carrollton Trojans as they get ready for their last game of the regular season, they clinch the region title. Hannah As you say, they're going up against Campbell, so they could run the table here and finish the regular season. 10 and 0 as they keep an eye on everybody else in 7A.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, I wouldn't doubt it. Well, Region 2 7A isn't the only region to clinch. There were 23 others determined on Friday. So, for the lead in Region 5 3A at the battlefield in Tyrone, Cedar Grove beat Sandy Creek 49 to 34, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Yep. And you look at that one and you figured that that one was going to be one where you had a lot of offense and it was going to be, I think one of those pretty much with the individual, the team that had the ball last might be in a position to win. Elliot Colson 19 of 28, 19 of 28 for Cedar Grove for 369 and six touchdowns on the day, scored a touchdown himself. To give you the seven TDs, Barry Jackson six catches 455 yards and a couple of scores. And get this Cedar Grove was down 12 nothing in this one come back to win by 15. So, that's the Cedar Grove, one of the most talented teams here in the state of Georgia, regardless of classification. And you got to see that in the win over Sandy Creek in 3A.
Hannah Goodin: The rest of my scoreboard. Phil Reeve's Stadium. Calhoun takes the top spot in Region 7 5A with a 28-13 win over Dalton. Irwin gets revenge over Brooks County after losing to them in the 2021 State Championships, defeating Brooks County 19 to 7. That one was in Region 1 1A Memorial Stadium in Savannah. This matchup decided who's the favorite to win Region 3 4A Benedictine defeated Wayne County 31 to 10 in that one, and Region 3 2A is not in the blender.
Jon Nelson: No.
Hannah Goodin: Appling County beat by Vidalia 34 to 13. Vidalia will be the second seed. What are your thoughts on those games, Jon?
Jon Nelson: I mean you look at Appling, Appling's offensive line with Jordan Mullis and the defensive line, you know, our friend John Koon, who has covered football down there for three decades, he gave me the heads up about Appling County about a month ago. And it truly just they're mauling guys right now on the offensive and defensive line, 26 games this upcoming week will decide you're ones in your twos probably, but at the very least, your region champs. Your region champs already in the barn. Carrollton in a Region 2 7A. Cambridge is your region champ in a Region 6 5A. North Oconee is your champ in Region 8 4A. Thomasville with their win Thursday over Doherty. They are the region champ in the class 3A in Region one. And so, Early County is a region champs. They were the first one in the barn. They frontloaded all of their games and region play, so they could be done. They had a game against one of the top teams in the state of Alabama, Eufaula High as a non-region. They've had Brooks. They've had Eufaula. They went across the river and played Eufaula, Alabama last Friday night. And Early County is one of the first ones in Region one, Class A, Division two, and then MCA McIntosh County Academy, the Bucks. They are the proud owners of a Region title and Region 3-A Division two. So, those are your region champs. 26 more can be decided on Friday night if things go one way or another. So, it's going to be another fun Friday where we're going to have our heads on a swivel, Hannah.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, one more game for you. Region 6 7A our Web game. Lambert defeated Denmark 39 to 31 to go 8 and 0. 3 and 0 in region play. So, our web game this week is a big Region one 2A battle between Cook and Fitzgerald. Jon, what's on the line in this one?
Jon Nelson: Everything. Beat two, three, four. I mean, it's a region title. And you have once again, you've got great football towns. And we mentioned Adel and how much they embrace the Cook Hornets. You have Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County and how much they embrace what goes on with the purple hurricane. This one's going to be a fun one. And thanks to everybody down in Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County that are letting us come down with a camera and have that be our Web game, remember our Web games, just have that one camera there. They have graphics to keep you up to date with. What's going on? You hear nat. sound? You hear the natural sound there in the stadium? No play by plays attached. We're just kind of there with you as a fan to let everybody else know around the state what's going on with this one. And this one's going to be it's going to be a fun one with a lot on the line in Region one 2A leading off this week, we catch up with the guy who's going to be on the home sideline, head coach Tucker Pruitt of the Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane. Coach, I hear you're evading weight training class to hang out with us this week.
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: I popped my head out real quick just to take a second to talk to y'all. Always good to hear your voice. And I hope y'all are doing good.
Jon Nelson: No doubt about it. All right. So, we're part and parcel to a game that's coming up this week and it's going to be on GPB dot org/sports. We'll get to that in just a sec. But what has it been like for you as a coach and as a program, knowing that you are everyone's top game, that you are the bullseye this season for everybody that you face?
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Well, you know, I mean, I guess that's a good thing if people think you're the standard. You know, we don't put a lot of stock into last year. I know some people have said we're defending champions. We're really not defending anything. This is a new year and a new team and a new challenge. And, you know, we do get a lot of people's best, but, you know, we try to work hard, too, and hope that they get our best shot as well. And so far, so good. Our kids have done well so far. And, you know, we've been able to beat the teams that we're supposed to be able to win, you know, a couple of the close ones. It could have gone either way. And so it's good to be the standard and we just want to try to keep winning one game a week.
Hannah Goodin: You made it to the finals in 2020. You did win last year. Now, you're 8 and 0. 4 and 0 in region play, how are you maintaining that level of success?
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Well, I think it's just having a short memory, you know, because, you know, once the game's over, nothing really carries over. Nothing else matters other than, you know, going through the process again and making sure you respect your opponent and making sure you make the corrections that are needed from last week to this week to make sure you're continuing to grow and progress. And that's what we expect of our kids individually and our team collectively. And so, we just take them one at a time, take it one day at a time, and try to focus on being our best and continuing to get better.
Jon Nelson: Coach, I've maintained that 2A football is one of the toughest classifications across the board, in addition to South Georgia football being what it is. Then you add South Georgia and 2A on top of each other, and I think it's doubly tough for someone who doesn't know about 2A football. How would you break down how competitive a classification it is?
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Well, there's a lot of parity, you know, and it just changed this year where you got a couple of the private schools in there now, you know, with Eagles Landing and Fellowship. But you got two of the Final Four last year from 3A and Pierce and Appling. You still got the Fitzgeralds and the Calloway's and you also got Thomson and Rockmart which are two region champions from AAA coming down. So, it's very competitive, you know, and obviously we focus on the games that are on our schedule and we're in the region stretch right now and that's always tough as well. But there's a lot of different teams that can win. And I think, you know, there's a lot of good teams, a lot of good coaching staffs, a lot of good athletes. And so, you know, we just hope to continue to try to take them one at a time and be around when it really matters.
Hannah Goodin: Tell me about some of your top athletes. You're coming off a 33 to 13 region win over Sumter County, where Demetrius Brown had a big game returning a kickoff 92 yards for a score before the end of the first half. Tell me about him and and how well some of the other guys are doing on both sides of the ball.
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Yeah. D.J. had a great game for us. You know, that was one of our special teams goals this year. Coming into the season, we haven't returned to kick off for a touchdown since 2018.
Hannah Goodin: Wow.
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: That was one of our goals. And D.J. did it last week. He's also been playing really well for us at Wide Receiver and Corner. I think he had four catches last week and he's a senior. That's an experienced player. He started last year for us and he's having a great year. And as far as you know, the rest of them go. Daniel James is another one of our leaders on the defensive line. He's playing outstanding. The offensive line is probably the strength of our team four of those five are seniors. We got one senior, Xavier Walker. But Lovon Simmons, Gabe Pearce, Christian Riggins, Roderick Morgan are all juniors. That'll be back. And they played well for us this year. And like I said, they're our strength and we kind of do the running back thing by committee and we've got five or six little running backs that will roll in there. And Dalton Cooper has gotten a lot better at quarterback. Last week, he was seven for seven, which is pretty efficient. Obviously, we're a run first team, so we don't call on him to do a ton on some Friday nights, but he's there whenever we need him. He's gotten a lot better. Calvin Tillman is a good, wide out force as a junior, and so we really have a small class of seniors. I think we've only got like 12 or 13 seniors, but there's some good players and then we've got a bigger group of juniors and a lot of those guys played last year as sophomores. And so, it's a good mix and they're all working to get better. And, you know, we've had some good games and some bad games and just trying to continue to press on.
Hannah Goodin: I think this is the third time where we've had head coaches going against each other on the podcast, and we like to do something funny where you'd-.
Jon Nelson: There you go.
Hannah Goodin: If you could ask Coach Slack a question about Friday, what would you ask him?
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Oh, I'd like to know how they're going to line up defensively with some of our unbalanced formations and just kind of see with that out front. Or they can slant or they going to move the man or roll the secondary down. I could be interested to know that. I doubt that we get him to tell me, but that would be the question.
Hannah Goodin: We'll ask him. Yeah, we'll ask him for you.
Jon Nelson: Knowing full well that there's going to be a question that we will have him asking you somewhat rhetorically here on the show. But since your first one up, you get to ask the first question of the two of you. And then, you know, JC, on Friday night, you guys can sit there and say, well, you know, this was the question that I wanted to know. And then this is the question I want. Now, you guys can have your own good conversation there at JC.
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Yeah. And then, we could make everybody wonder was the answer we gave the truth or kind of a partial truth?
Hannah Goodin: Exactly.
Jon Nelson: For someone who's never been to a game at JC. What are they missing?
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Oh, it's awesome. And it's a great environment. You know, our community really comes behind our kids and rallies behind them and they get excited about Friday nights and our kids work hard. And there's a lot of young kids in the in the stadium that are looking forward to being hurricanes one day, the band, and the crowd is it's a big deal, you know, and so it's a good environment for our kids to play in. They get excited. They feed off the crowd and every game's a big game at Fitzgerald. And so this Friday, like I mentioned, senior night, hopefully we'll get some home playoff games, but it's the last, you know, guaranteed home game that these guys are going to play in the regular season. And so, we're hoping to have another pretty good environment. Obviously, Cook County's got a great team and they're going to bring a good crowd and it'll be a great night for football.
Hannah Goodin: Tucker Pruitt, the head coach of the Purple Hurricane and Fitzgerald coach, it's great to always have you here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Thanks for catching us up as you get ready for one of the big region games around the state this weekend. You guys are hosting Cook Friday night on GPB dot org. Thanks for being great host and letting us come and see what's going on down there in South Georgia. Thanks for coming on the show and we'll be seeing you Friday night.
Tucker Pruitt, Fitzgerald Head Coach: Thanks.
Hannah Goodin: One coach down, one to go. Let's go to the visiting sideline and catch up with first year Cook hornets Head Coach, Byron Slack.
Hannah Goodin: Hey Coach Slack. It's your first year at the helm of the Cook Hornets and your first time on the podcast. So welcome in.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me.
Hannah Goodin: You're in a region that is traditionally tough regardless of what the order is and the schools that are involved. Region 1 2A traditionally very, very tough this year it's you. It's Fitzgerald. It's Worth. You're all right there at the at the top of the ladder. You mentioned how you you know you looked at Dodge. Dodge was two and two and three and five coming into the game before they got the ten point win on you. And then you've got Berrien, who's two and two in the region. They're above 500. And you've also got Sumter and Jeff Davis in there. Region one 2A once again continues to be tough. It doesn't matter what the iteration is. Absolute.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Absolutely, that was, you know, when I first got the job and they had we had a little bit of region realignment when I took over, quite honestly and above all this region, this and that. But you know, as in having been in this area for for a long time, you know, certainly at 7A levels watching some of these teams and whatnot. And again, like I said, you get on the film and exactly like you said, you start watching the film and you know, you always like the opportunity to compete on Friday's. And certainly in this region, you get just that every Friday. So, there aren't any any time you can look forward and go, hey, we can we may be able to, you know, by here this week with the just this. This kind of, you know, a, you know, not performing very well and maybe still be able to pull a victory are not in this region. If you don't play well on Friday nights in this region, you're going to get beat.
Hannah Goodin: Coach, when you look at your first year there at Cook, it normally takes a little while for the messaging to get through your expectations to be understood, those kinds of things. When did you get the feeling that everything was going in the right direction? Everybody was was pushing and making sure that the rope was being pulled the way that it was supposed to. Was it in summer? Was it during the season early on in season one? When did you see that everything was going in that one direction with everybody doing the same things?
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Well, early on, you know, we've and we're certainly not without our bumps and bruises. We're a little thin and just actual numbers. And and that's okay because the kids that stayed I was I was sure that they were they were all in. And again, we certainly don't have as many as we like out here. But I was sure that they all they were all in. But if I had to go back to a particular point in the season, you know, I have to go probably to the Valdosta game. You know, I put that game on the schedule for that reason. I wanted to see. I wanted to make sure our kids understood what it was like to be in a hostile environment, go against the storied program, the most storied program in America. And I wanted to see I wanted our kids to see. I wanted them to understand, regardless of the classifications and whatever it takes place, if they go out there and stick to the plan, we can play with anybody. And we did that early on. We ultimately made some crucial mistakes in the special teams game that, you know, allowed a great program like them to prevail. I'll put three points on the ground inside the five yard line, and I'm not there. I'm not sure who you can beat if you do that. But, you know, at that time, if there was ever a time when you lose, you know, everybody always talks about and everybody says, you know, a good tail whipping can make you learn a lot of lessons. Personally, I learned a lot when I win. I don't. But at that point, I think our kids kind of understood, you know, this maybe there is something to this. What he is trying to what he and his staff are trying to bring in, trying to get us to understand. And, of course, we got the next week and got, you know, a great victory against another great ballclub and Brooks County. And I think from that point, the kids kind of believed and some of the values and things that we spent all summer and and spring training to instill. They saw it come to fruition and work in their favor.
Hannah Goodin: Well, coach you have Fitzgerald this Friday on it's our GPB Web game. And we just talked to Coach Pruitt, like Jon said, and he had a question for you. So, this is the third time that we've had coaches on that are going head to head. And he wanted to know which defense that you were going to run.
Jon Nelson: Against his.
Hannah Goodin: I don't know if you want to tell them right here on the show.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Against against his unbalanced sets. He wanted to know what your defensive alignment was going to be and if you were going to do things like roll the secondary or things like that. Do you have a question in return that you'd like to know about Fitzgerald's approach on Friday night?
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Yeah, let me, let me let me first answer what defense we're going to run.
Jon Nelson: Against is unbalanced stuff. Yeah.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: We're going to run our defense.
Hannah Goodin: Got it.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: And a question for him would be. Let me see what is a good question. You guys sure ask him, right?
Hannah Goodin: Oh, yeah. I'll text him as soon as I'll text him as soon as the show is over. And the two of you can discuss your questions and answers right there at the 58 at J.C.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Okay. How many of those kids can we not bring to the game Friday?
Jon Nelson: All right. So how many of the kids can he not bring to the game on Friday? Okay.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: For a long time, he's a great football coach made him talk in the offseason and talk all the time. And he's done a great job there. And I'm really looking forward to going over there and going head to head against. And we've had some runins together when he was at Lowndes. And I've always respected him as a coach and I've got nothing but good things to say about about Coach Pruitt.
Hannah Goodin: All right. So, we have on our programing on Friday night, we have Recruiting 2022 before our game of the week. And we have a segment that is toward the end of the show that's called Make that Kid an Offer. And what we like to do with that particular segment is sit there and ask coaches around the state whether it's in person or have them submit their ideas. If there was a student athlete that for whatever reason, they're under recruited, they're too small, they're not tall enough, they're not big enough for whatever reason. They're not getting the looks that you think they should be getting for the next level or they're not getting the right looks, or they're not getting enough looks. They're getting recruited, they're getting some offers, but maybe some more. Is there anyone there at Cook that you would sit there and say, make this kid an offer or make this kid a better offer?
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Absolutely. Bryson Wilson, our offensive tackle.
Jon Nelson: And what's what's Bryson's current dossier? What's the the 411 on him?
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: He is. Bryson is 6' 5" and 320 lbs. True, true put on the bar 355 lbs. bench press. He is 33 and a quarter inches from the back of his shoulder to the tip of his fingers. His measurables would be up there with anybody that you would measure, and he has some decent I mean to say he doesn't. My philosophy has always been, which I tell my kids and tell parents, if anybody is going to pay me to go to school, that's a big time offer, you know? And people always ask me, hey, who you got? That's going to say sign big time. I tell them everyone of them that sign. However, I think that Bryson Wilson in this fast pace play now, or if you're not ready now, a system that college football has going, there are some people that are going to miss out on an opportunity to have a great football player in their program. You know, I know there may be one or two drawbacks on flexibility, something of that nature. But I think within a year's time, this kid has all of his good football way, way ahead of him. And again, we're talking a legitimate kid that, like I said, is 6', 5", 320 lbs and length like an NFL offensive lineman. And I know a bunch of guys. I've coached go through different levels and then a bunch unknown. I've seen hundreds of kids his size that did not have this, the natural strength that he has. And I think that that there's some people out there that if they just give him a shot and look at him and evaluate him a little bit more and deep in detail, again, coming from, you know, a 2A program, I'm certain that may work against him a little bit, but he's a kid that, like I said, if anybody out there evaluates him, spend some time, some real time evaluating him, look at him. He's a kid that I really think some people are going to end up playing against and go, "Man, how do we miss that kid?"
Jon Nelson: All right, Hannah, last question for you.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, well, we've got well, it's a combine question and we've got one last one for you. Your defensive coordinator, Chad Wheeler, has a very special daughter. And Jon wants to ask you more about this.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, a lot of folks may not know Chad's story and what he and his family are going through right now with his daughter, Charlotte. They are. That's it's a fantastic story. And they're salt of the earth, folks. And I just wanted to let other folks know around the state about Coach Wheeler and about that story and how important family is not just to the Wheelers, but to the Cook family and to everybody down there and that don't know this story.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Yeah. He just you know, Charlotte has been battling to, make sure I say it right, brain cancer since she's been an infant. And, you know. You never want to. It's a deal. You never want to throw that up in anybody's face, especially with the kids and whatnot. And you don't ever want to see that. But she comes out to the game and she's in the stroller and/or in the stroller or walking with his wife. And here's a here's it. Here's a child who's had probably more surgeries than any than everybody in that stadium combined. At three and a half years old. And it's just bouncing off the walls, you know, and it really makes you stop and, you know, not necessarily, you know, be thankful for sure, but you go, you know, the ability to endure and that child in particular, Chad and his family, his wife, you know, uprooting here, going back and forth to Jacksonville and he's up here with us, doesn't he doesn't miss anything. Never misses a thing. And wife drives back and go back and forth to Jacksonville. It's just an amazing story of willpower and people will to endure not just the family, but the child in particular. Like I said, I was with me and coach. We were together at Moultrie last year. And gosh, just the just the different things has happened. Like I said, she's had more surgeries and then everybody on our team combined. And again, when you see her, you just you it makes you look and it makes you evaluate your situation makes you evaluate what you really think is important, makes you evaluate how blessed you are and makes you evaluate everything in your life, and how you go about it on a daily basis.
Jon Nelson: And that was why I wanted to let everybody around the state know about that story with Coach Wheeler. He's the DC on your staff and you've got a big game coming up this week, this weekend with Fitzgerald Region Title on the line and one of the toughest regions around. Thanks for pulling back the curtain. What's going on down there in Adel, coach. Great to have you on for your maiden voyage here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Fitzgerald and Cook our web game this week at GPB dot org. Thanks for hanging out with me and Hannah for telling everybody else know what's going on down there.
Byron Slack, Cook Head Coach: Thank you so much. And thank you for having me. And go Hornets.
Hannah Goodin: Great to catch up with Coach Slack and have him on for the very first time. What an incredible story that was, and we also cannot wait for the game on Friday, Jon.
Jon Nelson: No doubt.
Hannah Goodin: Our TV game this week, Region 5 6A matchup between Hughes, South Paulding in Fairburn. What's on the line in this one, Jon?
Jon Nelson: Other than everything once again, I mean, you have Hughes at 8 and 0. Coming in South Paulding, 6 and 2. And it's Boone and Sumo.
Hannah Goodin: Love it.
Jon Nelson: It's Boone and Sumo. So, this will be a great game. We're looking forward to this one. Once again, determining the ones and twos and regions. One of those 26 games that we were discussing that will determine order and seating order and things like that. I know a lot of folks. And in the GPB's polls, Hughes, Lee, Roswell all season long, it looks like it's going to be Hughes, Roswell and Lee and then a lot of other folks after what happened with one of the plays of the season in Georgia high school football. But right now Hughes top of the ladder in 6A a tough region test. We'll see what we'll see what Air Noland can do against the South Paulding defense on Friday night.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, absolutely. We had both Boone and Sumo on the postgame show as well to talk about this matchup. And Sumo was fired up.
Jon Nelson: Like I said, it's going to be a fun one. And because this one really it's going to be a marker for South Paulding to figure out where they stand up against one of the top teams in the state, regardless of classification. And once again, another situation for Hughes to take care of business, to get that region title, to get all those home games in South Fulton County. That's what you're looking for, to stay as deep in the playoffs as possible.
Hannah Goodin: Friday 7:30 p.m. Recruiting 2022 before at 7 p.m. And we want to give a flag football update for everybody. We had a triple header at Hebron Christian in Dacula. Hebron beat Dacula at 19 to 6, Decula defeated Lanier 7 to 6. Hebron Christian took down Lanier 34 to 6. Jon, you were on the sidelines. What was it like?
Jon Nelson: Oh, Hebrew Christian's going to be a team that you're going to have to keep an eye on. So that's going to be Hebrew Christian. If you haven't seen them play, you're going to have to keep an eye on them. I think they're going to be making a charge in area. So, we'll keep an eye on the lions.
Hannah Goodin: Follow us, GPB Sports, for more announcements on flag football. All right. I guess we have to do a staff.
Jon Nelson: Yes, we do.
Hannah Goodin: I'm thinking that this segment could just be take it out. Going forward.
Jon Nelson: No, no.
Hannah Goodin: It's fine.
Jon Nelson: No, it's not. It's not. In the interest of equal time. Here's the deal. All right. So Darlington and Ambassador Jeremy, they're 9 and 0. 5 and 0 in Region 7 Class A, they beat Armuchee 45 -7 and obviously our love to everyone up there at our Armuchee with Coach Green with his most recent announcement that this is going to be his last season as head coach up there at Armuchee. Obviously with the family, with all of the health issues that they've been battling over the last couple of years. Last season for Coach Green is the head coach at Armuchee. But obviously all of our love here from GPB to everybody up there at our Armuchee. Decatur, Commander Sandy's group, now 4 and 4 3 and 0 in region play. Class 5A Region 4 beating Lithonia 35 to 2. Lakeside non-region schedule continues winning season for the first time in a long time 42-18 over Stone Mountain 6 and 3. Lassiter lost their third. 26-23 to Pope.
Hannah Goodin: Parkview. Parkview. Parkview lost to Newton 20 to 18. 2-1 in region. 6-2 overall.
Jon Nelson: 3-5 overall 1 and 3 in Region 7 Class 6A. And then Central Macon now get this, so she goes straight to Jake the Snake with what happened with Parkview. Central Macon, hey King James big win 63 nothing over Spencer move to 2 and 6. 2 and 3. Good work for everybody there. So once again, Ambassador Jeremy at the top of the ladder ranked 9-0. 5 and 0 in Class A. So, what else is on your mind?
Hannah Goodin: Sad, sad. Another sad night for my Trojans. But, we are going to get it back.
Jon Nelson: Lassiter. Three in five, one in three Region 7 Class 6A. There you go. All right. So what else is on your mind? We got a game. We got a game to talk about once again to promote. We got that. Everything else that's going on. So let's promote that. We've got a game 7:00 once again. Recruiting 2022 is on the air, and we'll have all the segments. And we have some big news as a lead this week. So, you're not going to want to miss Recruiting 2022 coming on at 7:00, 7:30. Little after that 7:36-ish is your kick off with Hughes at South Paulding, Big Region Battle determining who's going to be a region champion. Can you stay at the top of the rankings in Class 6A? That's the big question. And then when the game's over, it's not over because we have the post-game show once again brought to us by our friends at Buckle Up, Georgia. Buckle up, Georgia. Seatbelts save lives another full night as we are at the next to last round of the regular season, next to last week. Two more weeks to go before the sprint two Georgia State kicks off in earnest. So for everybody here, it's another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. It's Commander Sandy, it's King James, it's Ambassador Jeremy. It's Jake the Snake. It's for Hannah in her closet with her dodgy wi-fi. It's just me. I'm just Jon. Thanks for hanging out with us for another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Play it safe, everybody. Enjoy the game.
Hannah Goodin: Good job, Jon.