Football Fridays in Georgia: Superstitions, Traditions, and Funny Stories PART 1
On this very special episode of the Football Fridays in Georgia Podcast, Hannah and Jon caught up with coaches from across the state and asked them to share their superstitions, traditions, and funny stories. This podcast episode is a collection of some of those answers.
Justin Rogers, Thomas Co. Central Head Coach: They'd snapped the ball.....he took one in the face pretty bad.
Jason Strickland, Ware Co. Head Coach: And now you got all these college degrees that are sitting around....this brilliant idea.
Mike Chastain, Jones Co. Head Coach: And so I'll go down and do a squat and I'm telling you....my shorts busted wide slap open.
Hannah Goodin: Welcome to a special bonus edition of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. I'm Hannah Goodin. And over the past couple of weeks, Jon Nelson and myself had the chance to catch up with a lot of coaches from around the state. And you can find those interviews across all of the GPB platforms: the website, YouTube, social media. They're everywhere. During those interviews we asked the coaches to share their superstitions, traditions, and funny stories with us. And this special podcast episode is a collection of all of those answers. We'll hear about a coach that was featured on MTV, coaches who don't change clothes, embarrassing moments and questionable decisions all in the name of high school football. First up is Thomas County Central's head coach Justin Rogers. Would you like to share a funny coaching moment, a funny coaching memory, a game day tradition or game day superstition with us?
Justin Rogers, Thomas Co. Central Head Coach: Yeah, I've probably got one of all.
Jon Nelson: Ha.
Justin Rogers, Thomas Co. Central Head Coach: Game day superstition. Yeah. When we run out the tape and take the field. I'm always going to go, you know, give my wife a kiss and my little girl a kiss. Yes, That's just. That's going to happen. They'll be right there. So that what I've been doing now for years. Funny story. I mean, when you when you're in this thing so much, you've got so many. One stands in place for me is back when I was at Jones. We're kicking field goals and and we had we're working on the field goal unit and my O-line coach my best friend who's in my and he's with me here now Jimmy Dudley he's up our coaching the O-line and somebody put the backup kicker in. He went ahead and snapped the ball. He took one in the face pretty bad. It ended up on Ridiculousness that show on MTV.
Jon Nelson: Wow.
Justin Rogers, Thomas Co. Central Head Coach: So yeah, we can laugh about it now.
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Justin Rogers, Thomas Co. Central Head Coach: We were it was something else, during it. And and so that comes up on our memories. You know, your memories come up. Because somebody posted that, the kicker's dad did. So it shows up every year. So we get to relive it every year. That's always fun, too. So that's why that one popped up immediately, and especially because, you know, Jim has been with me for years. We went to college together and known each other our whole lives. And so so that was special there. But it's just it's a good profession. And so there's so many memories that you can answer. We can sit here and talk about those four questions for a long time.
Hannah Goodin: Well, we appreciate your helping us with time and cutting it short. Thank you for sharing, coach.
Justin Rogers, Thomas Co. Central Head Coach: Yes, thank y'all.
Jon Nelson: Thanks, Justin.
Hannah Goodin: Next is Coach Maurice Freeman from Brooks County. Well, I'm looking forward to your answer on this. I've been waiting to hear it all day. So here's our bonus question. Do you have a funny coaching moment, a funny coaching memory, game day tradition or game day superstition that you'd like to share with us?
Maurice Freeman, Brooks Co. Head Coach: I have all kinds of things to share. So I'll share my game day deal. On Thursday when we finish our polish and shine. I do not talk any more until it's time for the game. I don't speak to my principal, I don't speak to assistant principals, I don't speak to teachers. I don't I don't answer the phone. I don't talk to my players. They know all my sign language anyway. They and all my little funny looks and all that stuff. I don't talk. I'm grouchy. I'm mean, I'm just worried about the game and I don't want to talk to anybody.
Hannah Goodin: I did not know that. Did you know that about him, Jon?
Jon Nelson: No. But I know to not call him on Thursdays because it's too close to a game day anyway. Yeah, It's like. That's why I like. I want to talk to him early in the week to make sure that I know what's going on. Let. Let the man cook. Let the man coach. Don't worry about it. I mean, cook, figuratively and literally. It's just.
Maurice Freeman, Brooks Co. Head Coach: If you call of Friday. You definitely got to leave a message because I'm not going to answer the phone.
Hannah Goodin: Ware County head coach Jason Strickland is next with a funny coaching moment.
Jason Strickland, Ware Co. Head Coach: Well it comes comes last year and we had a we had a ton of them that we could talk about. No they're not all PG so we only get we got this one last year. We played Benedictine at our place and it literally was like swamp, I mean it flooded the whole game, just mud all over the place. It was it was crazy. Everybody that was involved on the field was absolutely full of mud when the game was over. And, you know, we were able to win it close in 14 to 10. And and man, we get back and our our game cleats are just demolished. I mean, it is it is a mess. And, you know, we're trying to get them ready for for the following week and we don't know exactly what we're going to do. And one of our coaches said, I coach, let's just go ahead and wash them, get them, and then we can get them dried. You know, we can go and try to do it again two days from now and get them dried and see what we can do. And we're sitting here with 150, 160 pair of cleats. So we decided we're going to we're going to get them all washed. And, you know, what do we what do we want to do here once we get them out? We got them all out now. We got to sort them and get them back in pairs. Now we're talking about 160 pair of cleats that we got to get back paired up. So one of our assistants said, Coach, let's just go ahead and tie the players together and we put them in the dryer that way. We said, okay, yeah, that sounds like a good idea. So we tie one pair together, one pair together, one. So we've got 160 pairs of cleats. They're paired up and we throw them all in the dryer. Oh, no. And then so an hour later we come back to get them and it looked like the Christmas lights scene on Christmas Vacation. It was the biggest ball of knotted up cleats that you could ever I mean, we didn't know how we were going to get them out of the dryer. I'm like, every cleat in the program is tied up in this big white ball. And it took us about 45 minutes to get them out of the dryer. Then the wad cleats weighed what felt like 400 pounds. So you're got grown men wrapped around a big ball cleats trying to tote them out. And for about an hour and a half, we sat down and said, all right, let's let's see if we can get this thing untangled. And now you got all these college degrees that are sitting around this brilliant idea of tying all these cleats together. And we worked on that for about an hour and said, alright, here's what we're going to do. Go ahead and cut every one of these strings, go down to Wal-Mart and start this thing all over again. And so the next process was now we've got all these well-paid college degrees that are sitting there. Now, your job is now to lace shoestrings into cleats because you were stupid enough to try to tie them all together and put them in the dryer together. So I was our that was our our stupid moment of the year last year.
Hannah Goodin: That's hilarious.
Jon Nelson: But if you can have a stupid moment.
Jason Strickland, Ware Co. Head Coach: If you want to dry all your cleats together, don't tie them together. I can tell you that.
Jon Nelson: But if you can have a stupid moment like that and laugh about it because you're a state champ. It's fine.
Hannah Goodin: Maybe that's why you won. It was the it was the dryer debacle.
Jason Strickland, Ware Co. Head Coach: Oh, but the Trey Hargrove had a lot to do with that, too. But yeah, man. you want to talk about debacle. You are right. No question. It was a debacle. First of all, it was, oh, gosh, we're going to have to get 160 pair of new cleats. Where are we going to get those from?
Hannah Goodin: But that might might have been quicker.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. At this point.
Hannah Goodin: Rabun County's head coach is Michael Davis and he shares his superstition with us.
Michael Davis, Rabun Co. Head Coach: Well, yeah. I mean, I got tradition slash superstition. Like when when my little girls, when they were when they were younger, we would always go to breakfast on Friday on game day. So every Friday morning we would go to the game. And so over the year we did it every game, I mean, through the year out. Now they've all, you know, they're both at schools and whatever. So when they left, I end up having to take somebody, so I end up taking the quarterbacks. So I would meet them for breakfast. And so I've kind of kept that going over the years. But the superstition I have is that whatever I'm wearing when we win that first game, I'm pretty much going to wear that the rest of the time. From the time I wake up on Friday, Friday morning to Friday walkthroughs to what I'll wear Friday night, I mean, it doesn't change. And so what's happened is like, you know, last year we got on a pretty good run and we won those 11 games in a row. Yeah, the first of the year I was in shorts and a t shirt, and by the time we got to week 11, it was ice cold when we did team walk. And I'm walking out there with shorts and a t shirt on and a but I got, you know, superstitious I couldn't change and I did change on one Friday night, wore something different on my daughter my, my daughters and my wife saw and they my daughter come right up to me at halftime. I want to know why I changed clothes, why I was not wearing the same thing because they know I've been like that their entire life. So.
Hannah Goodin: Did you win that game where you changed?
Michael Davis, Rabun Co. Head Coach: We did. We were actually playing pretty bad in the first half and I changed. I went back to put another pair of old pants I wore and another top. I mean, I completely changed everything up and we played a lot better second half and one.
Hannah Goodin: So it was it was the outfit change to you.
Michael Davis, Rabun Co. Head Coach: It had to be the outfit. Well that, that and getting I mean, like I said, my worst critics were my daughters and my wife. So I don't have to worry about anybody in the stands hollering at I mean, I get it pretty good at home. So.
Jon Nelson: Do you wash the clothes or do they hang....
Michael Davis, Rabun Co. Head Coach: Yeah, I do. I do wash the clothes. I will admit that I do wash them. They get washed on Saturday and then they get put up and they're not worn again till you know, till Friday.
Jon Nelson: Just checking. It's just checking.
Michael Davis, Rabun Co. Head Coach: Yeah it is. It's pretty, pretty much. But yeah I, yeah, listen, I'm, I'm old and but and crusty, but I'm not that old and crusty, you know what I'm saying? It's just kind of one of those things.
Hannah Goodin: When we asked Jones County head coach Mike Chastain to share a funny story, he told us something really embarrassing that happened in the weight room. Last question for you, Coach. We love making you think on these.
Jon Nelson: Here she goes.
Hannah Goodin: What's a funny coaching moment over your coaching career that you'd like to share?
Mike Chastain, Jones Co. Head Coach: Well, when I was coach at Houston County, shoot back in late 2013, we started January over there and the first day I I'm running the weight room and I got a girls softball class. And the first thing I want to do the first day is make sure they're good on squats, because we're in the middle of January where they're starting off their off season. We got to start off hitting it full speed and and I want make sure they're good on squats. So I'm I'm demonstrating the squat by going up against the wall and so I look you don't want to me you don't want your knees going out over your toes. And so I'll go down and do a squat. And I'm telling you, my shorts busted, wide slap open. I'm not talking about the little small cut. No, no, they ripped. They ripped from from the bottom of the shorts all the way up to the waistband. And it made a loud noise, too. And man I'll tell you, I backed out of that weight room and the girls, they couldn't laugh and they couldn't. They couldn't stop laughing. So that was that was probably the probably the funniest coach moment I have.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, no, that is awesome. Thank you for sharing that. I needed that.
Jon Nelson: That is amazing.
Mike Chastain, Jones Co. Head Coach: Hey, I don't know if it was awesome for those girls, but it is awesome to tell.
Hannah Goodin: They're probably little scarred. Maybe they still tell the story.
Jon Nelson: Oh, man.
Hannah Goodin: That's awesome.
Jon Nelson: That's fantastic. Well, Coach, thanks for doing this. Especially me catching up with you late last week to do it. Thanks for doing this. We really appreciate it. We'll catch up with you soon, okay?
Mike Chastain, Jones Co. Head Coach: Thank y'all for having me.
Hannah Goodin: Thanks, coach.
Jon Nelson: Wow. See what you did.
Hannah Goodin: That's funny.
Jon Nelson: See what you did. You started that.
Jon Nelson: You started something. Oh, man. Oh, you're you're getting folks in trouble now.
Hannah Goodin: Clinch County head coach Don Tison has a couple superstitions to share.
Don Tison, Clinch County Head Coach: Okay, I'll go, superstition.
Hannah Goodin: Okay.
Don Tison, Clinch County Head Coach: All right. And this is actually kind of cool. It's almost 100% that I will find a penny on heads on game day.
Hannah Goodin: No way. You're kidding.
Don Tison, Clinch County Head Coach: I swear. Yeah. It's almost to the point that I think somebody is planting, you know, in a fun. But I don't know if that's true. But maybe my wife. She might plant one every now and then. I don't know. But the. The superstition is if we win. I can't. I cannot get a haircut. And I have to wear the same underwear every time.
Don Tison, Clinch County Head Coach: I knew about the haircut. I did not know about the underwear.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, you learn something new all the time.
Don Tison, Clinch County Head Coach: So if we go undefeated.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. You end up with a big ole head of lettuce.
Don Tison, Clinch County Head Coach: Yeah. My hair will be if we go undefeated and win the state championship. I'll have a ponytail.
Hannah Goodin: Or a or a bun.
Jon Nelson: Oh, it'll be so tucked up under that lid.
Hannah Goodin: And the same underwear. So you'll have to get some new ones for the next season. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. Thank you for sharing.
Don Tison, Clinch County Head Coach: Yeah. I remember fresh haircut before the season starts and, you know, so I'm expecting us to win a lot of games, so I might need to, you know, buzz it before the season starts.
Hannah Goodin: That's a good idea. Benedictine head coach Danny Britt is next with a funny and painful sounding story.
Danny Britt, Benedictine Head Coach: This was from back when I first started coaching and younger days. And of course, I played at Georgia Southern and we all know about Erk Russell and the head butts and stuff. Well, I was trying to do that. And now, you know, years ago and went and before the halftime when I was going to fire this team out, we were playing local rival and it's going to fire this team up. This kid comes running out and he's in full helmet. And I head butt him and I guess I wasn't it split my scalp to a point where so so literally the trainer comes over. She's sitting there holding it. Meanwhile, all the officials are like, What's going on? My chain crew isn't out there. So I have to go running into to the office where the chain crew is and says, Hey, guys, where you at? I walk in, there's my half of my face is filled with blood, and they're like, What in the heck happened to you? I said, It doesn't matter. Get out there for the chain crew. The trainer, literally for the third quarter had to hold a towel on my head to keep, you know, so I could continue coaching and finally get some of that glue on there. And I think it did more to freak everybody out than it did to fire anybody up except for my wife and two daughters.
Hannah Goodin: Yes.
Danny Britt, Benedictine Head Coach: Who were so, fired up at me for doing that. And then the funny part of that, then immediately after the game had to go right across the street over to Memorial Hospital to get staples. Do you know where they staple your skin, it is literally the same staple gun that they used as you would use at your house?
Jon Nelson: Not aware.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, did not know.
Danny Britt, Benedictine Head Coach: I wasn't aware of that until then either. And it's the exact same one like too. So like seven staples put my scalp after that so that ended my Erk Russell headbutting days. Now we found other ways to get them excited.
Hannah Goodin: Seven staples and you coach the entire game. Wow. That's that's.
Danny Britt, Benedictine Head Coach: Not even.
Hannah Goodin: That's one of the best stories that we've had.
Jon Nelson: That's that. Oh, man. Wow. But now. But now I'm stuck with the staple gun. Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: I did not know that.
Jon Nelson: I was not aware. Oh.
Hannah Goodin: Well, Coach, literally. Yeah, go.
Hannah Goodin: Ahead. No, no, you go.
Danny Britt, Benedictine Head Coach: I literally asked him. I said I didn't see it at first and it then I said, that sound like a regular staple gun. And then the doctor just reached around and showed me and it's literally what you would use at your house to like staple your screen porch to get out, you know.
Jon Nelson: Not happening.
Hannah Goodin: That sounds very painful. Jeremy Edwards of Houston County has a superstition and tradition that's very wholesome.
Jeremy Edwards, Houston County Head Coach: Yeah, I've got a superstition. I always take a shower before the games and my coaching staff laughs at me for that. But it doesn't matter where we're at, I'm going to find a shower. So I always take a shower. And then then just kind of a thing that I started doing. I lost my father in law before the '21 season when I was at Warner Robins, and he meant a lot to me. And so before the games, I'll take a knee for him in the end zone to say a quick prayer before the game. So that that's a thing that means a lot to me. And he meant a lot to me, so I just honor him in that way.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, that's awesome. Thanks for sharing. Coach Rich Fendley of Bowdon shares a rather embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.
Rich Fendley, Bowdon Head Coach: Well, I guess my game day superstition now I'm going to do the same thing. I'm gonna wear the same khaki pants. I'm gonna drink, the same energy drink. You know, I have a quiet time where I go escape everybody on on game day. But I'm gonna share a funny story. And this is back when I was an assistant coach at the Heard County High School. You know, when I coach, I try to help coaches out and try to buy things that are let us wear coaching things that I know everybody's going to have. So, you know, you stick with khaki pants, everybody's got a pair of khakis. And, you know, some coaches make you wear the exact same color. Maybe you have a logo on it. But I was down at Heard County one year and Coach Barron decided he was the head coach, Tim Barron who is now at Villa Rica that we were going where we were going to wear black pants. So I didn't have black pants. I'd go out, buy some black pants. I was I was a little ill with him about him making me go spend money for some black pants. And then for some reason, it was a hot, hot preseason game.
Jon Nelson: Of course it was.
Rich Fendley, Bowdon Head Coach: So he said, you know, we're going to wear black shorts. Well, now I had to go out and buy a pair of black shorts, and I didn't have any black shorts, so I tried to cut my my pants off and make them into shorts. And I didn't know that my pant legs were not even so not in the on the backside in the front they were, but on the back it was little short on one side. So I went out and coach in those pants and Coach Barron and he was kind of mad with me. He was like, Man, you can look on Huddle, you can see your pants, everybody in the stands could see your pants. So I think we had another preseason scrimmage the following week.
Rich Fendley, Bowdon Head Coach: He had he had talked all the coaches in to cutting their black pants.
Jon Nelson: There you go.
Rich Fendley, Bowdon Head Coach: Everybody had crooked shorts on and they all had them in the fieldhouse. We didn't wear them out, the coach in it, but just just to get at me. And that's just one of them. Them funny stories and staff where it was great to coach on guys that a lot of camaraderie could pick at each other and but they all they all took one for the team and cut their shorts in them so I would look bad in my black shorts.
Jon Nelson: Why did I know Tim Barron and would do that?
Rich Fendley, Bowdon Head Coach: Yeah, I got I got a lot of dirt on Tim Barron. He was my best man in my wedding. And when we go way back and I learned so much from a guy and I owe him a lot and I probably own him a couple of tricks and jokes up my sleeve too. I've got to get him back before too long. But that that's one of the funny stories I've got in coaching.
Hannah Goodin: That's hilarious. Thank you so much for sharing. Thanks for listening to a special bonus edition of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. We have another episode of superstitions, traditions, and funny stories for you on the way.