This is part two of an interview with Brad Waggoner, the new head football coach at Decatur High School. Part one of the interview ran Thursday.
Do you think players should play both ways – offense and defense?
I’ve never been opposed to that.
If we have a skill guy who puts us in the best position to win on Friday night playing offensively and defensively, we’ll do that. I think it’s important to get as many kids as possible involved. You get more participation and you keep kids more interested.
We have to create depth. We’ve got a lot of young kids in the program. We’ve only got seven seniors next year out of the seventy we have out there now. So we have 63 young guys who will have multiple years. We have to create depth but I’m not opposed to playing a kid both ways.
Very few Decatur High kids have gone on to play in college in recent years. Does that bother you?
I wasn’t here. When I went to Chattooga, Chattooga has not had many players in recent times go on to play in college. The first year there we had two sign, my second year we had two sign, and this year we had two sign, both division one. So we’ve had six over the last three years.
That goes back again to having them start in the ninth grade and holding those kids accountable in the classroom and keeping those kids on track to graduate and keeping those kids focused.
If you want to play football in college nowadays you have to have good grades. You can't just have average grades like when I was in high school. Academics are key. If we want kids to go on to play in college from here then we have to hold them accountable from ninth grade on because the GPA starts in the ninth grade. The clock ticks.
We’re going to do everything to get these kids noticed and were going to do everything as coaches to put these kids in situations so they have an opportunity when they’re seniors.
Will you do anything to get the numbers up?
That starts with the middle school program. It’s like a farm system basically. Right now we’ve got seven seniors on our roster. Obviously something went wrong if we’ve only got seven seniors. But then we’ve got twenty-something juniors and twenty-something sophomores. We’ve got it set up so we can get things going in the right direction.
Ideally by year two I want to dress out 70 kids. We’ve got 70 kids coming to workouts. My goal this first year is to dress out 55 kids. By year three we ought to be able to have 75-80 kids dressing out if we’re doing what we’re supposed to with our middle school program.
It goes back to my idea of starting a youth program. If you look at the top programs around this area, they’ve got a youth program that feeds into middle school and a middle school program that feeds into high school. That’s what keeps your numbers up.
It goes back to getting involved with these kids lives when they’re in elementary school. Every Monday I go eat lunch with those sixth, seventh and eighth graders. I’ve gotten to know a lot of those kids already.
Those kids have got to get to know you somehow. They’ve got to understand who you are. Like any young kid, They’re not going to try unless they feel comfortable and know who the person is.
This is not going to be a quick fix. We have to build a program. I know we’ll get it done.
Last question. Is there anything you want the people of Decatur or the students of Decatur High to know?
I want them to know that I’m proud not only to be a football coach here at Decatur High but I’m looking forward to being actively involved in this community.
I look forward to getting to know as any people as I can. They’re going to find me and my wife and my little one will be at everything we can possibly be at and be as actively involved as possible.
Where we live will depend on where she gets a job. Obviously we hope she gets a job here in the city of Decatur.
They’ll see I’m more than a football coach. They’ll see I’m here because I want to be here. It would be easy to sit here and say I’m here because I got a big pay raise, but I didn’t .I promise you. If I wanted to coach moneywise I would have stayed right where I was.
People don’t understand that. They say why did you leave if you weren’t going to make more than what you made. I don’t look at it like that. I’m not far from where I played at Georgia Tech, not far where I grew up. I have a chance to be part of something special here.
I’ve always thought this place was a sleeping giant. It’s a place that has got tons and tons of potential. People all want to say you might not have support. Well, you’ve got to gain support of the community. You’ve got to get involved and do what it takes, whatever it may be, to make it happen.