A conversation with Crisp County coach Shelton Felton
Crisp County head coach Shelton Felton has had one year as head coach of the Cougars football program and is turning the team into a formidable opponent from Region 1.
The program is undefeated this season after beating Dooly County, Americus-Sumter and Turner County. The Cougars, ranked No. 9, have not been in the top 10 since the 2001 season, when they went 9-4 and lost to Paulding County in the state quarterfinals.
Felton, a Crisp County alum, played linebacker for coach Clay Hill from 1995-1998, then went to Troy State where he played defensive end from 1998-2002.
From 2012-2014, Felton was the defensive line coach at Colquitt County, under head coach Rush Propst.
Propst gained fame as the head coach of the Hoover, Ala., football program that was featured on MTV’s “Two-a-days” in the mid 2000s. Propst took the Colquitt job in 2008 and has led the Packers to the playoffs each year. The team won back-to-back state championships (2014-2015) after losing in the state semifinals three consecutive seasons.
Felton took the time Monday to discuss Propst and a number of issues in a wide-ranging Q&A:
Q: What is it like to coach at your old school?
A: It has its good and bad. It is great to come back home and try to get things turned around. But there is always a part where everyone in town knows you as a player and as a kid, and they think they can come up to you and give you all kind of coaching tips.
Q; What are your goals at Crisp this season?
A: We had a tough time finishing games last year. We were competitive at the end and had chances, but we just could not pull it out. But my goals are just to compete every year and just be one of those teams where you know you are going to be in the playoffs every year because you are going to win enough games. Now the goal is how far in the playoffs are you going to go? Are you going to compete for a region championship? Those are my goals for Crisp County. Make us consistent every year and considered a playoff team every year.
Q: What is the difference between high school football when you played and now?
A: One of the biggest differences from when I played is that we didn’t have as much to do as kids do now, with technology, cell phones and video games. We played football 24/7. We loved it. We watched it. Nowadays, you have to entice these kids to play sometimes. But times have changed. There is so much technology, and it’s changing every year. Technology is the biggest difference to me. And then recruiting right now is crazy. It is becoming a major thing. With one click of a button, I can go on social media and put kids on there to get recruited. I can send coaches stuff; it’s all so fast now.
Q: What did you learn coaching under Rush Propst?
A: I am a big fan of Rush Propst. I learned a lot. The main thing I learned from Rush Propst was making these kids believe in you and how to run a program. There are things that you would not think of, the little things. And I learned the little things and the big things. He is one of the best I have been around and been under. He taught me how to run a program from top to bottom. One of the things I learned was making everybody accountable — from the guy on the end of the bench to the guy that is the five-star recruit. You are making sure that everyone is on the same page and the same level. You have to make sure everyone understands his role on the team.
Q: Tell me about your standout defensive end, Markaviest Bryant, the Big Cat?
A: He is an awesome kid. Typical story, one parent home, but you never would know the situation. He is very humble. He is a very intelligent kid with great grades. He just wants to be somebody. He is determined to be somebody better in life. He is one of the best kids I have been around. To be a four-star recruit, you never would know it. His recruiting is wide open. He has received offers from almost everyone in the country. We talked with him a week ago, and there is no front-runner. He is still open and wants to give everyone a chance, but ultimately he wants to go where is best for him.
Q: On a deserted island, three songs?
A: Oh man, three songs to listen to forever! Oh man, I’m not too old, but I am kind of old, so one of my songs would be Outkast “southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.” I love that song. Another one would be, Keith Sweat’s “Make it Last,” and last but not least, “I Want to Rock with You” by Michael Jackson.
Q: Will being ranked affect your team at all?
A: No, I think it won’t. I tell my guys, “We are not looking at any of that stuff.” We are attacking this season as four quarters. We are going to finish these four quarters, and we are going to keep our head down and once we look up, when the smoke clears, we will see where we stand. Because these rankings don’t mean nothing. We are just No. 9 right now because we’re probably one of the few undefeated in AAA. Everybody in the region is picking us, but that doesn’t mean anything to us. We want to be in the playoffs and compete for the region championship. That’s the only thing that matters to us right now.