Four Questions with Coosa coach Todd Wheeler
Todd Wheeler, Coosa
1. What is the most memorable game you’ve been a part of as a player or coach?“I have a number of memories. As a player, I recall playing against Alabama my freshman year at Georgia . It was the first game of the year on Labor Day night and we were on national television in Athens. When I walked out from under Sanford Stadium and looked up at that sea of red and TV cameras, I realized that there were more people in those stands than lived in all of Rome and Floyd County. Scary thing for a little old freshman who just a season ago was playing high school [at Pepperell]. I was the starting snapper for PATs and field goals and a backup on the offensive line. We had crossed the 50 and I started warming up snapping into the net. Coach [Vince] Dooley called for the field goal team and I went sprinting out there to line up. This was my first play as a college player, and who lines up over me? Jon Hand – two-time All-American – walks down from defensive end and is head up. I sent my soul to heaven because I knew that he was going to plant this little freshman in the turf of Sanford Stadium. I took a deep breath and snapped the ball, he tries to jump over me, and I catch him on my shoulder and drive him into the turf and we make the field goal. I go trotting off the field with a renewed confidence. Alabama goes on to win the game [20-16] in the last seconds with a pass from Mike Shula to Albert Bell.
“As a coach, at Pepperell the wars that we had against Cartersville in the ’90s were always fun, but the one game that I still reflect on is the playoff game we had with Greene-Taliaferro. It was a defensive battle and they were loaded for bear. They only had 28 players, but they had 28 good ones. Coach Charlie Winslette had a great bunch. That was the best defense that I have ever been against. They beat us and went on to win the state that year .”
2. Which high school coach would you want your son to play for, and why?“I would want my son to play for Lynn Hunnicutt. I played for Lynn and coached with Lynn. He is tough and hard-nosed for a reason. Lynn always taught kids that you have to work hard to get anywhere in life and that you are going to get out of it what you put in it. Lynn never wanted to put a kid on the field that did not have a chance to be successful, and preparing him for that was the whole foundation.”
3. What is your pet peeve as a coach or favorite saying/motto?“My favorite saying as a coach is ‘To make it easy to be right and hard to be wrong, and when it is their idea to do it right, then it is perfect.’ This is reflecting on being disciplined and making right decisions on the field and in life.”
4. Which GHSA policy or high school football rule would you most like to see changed?“The GHSA does a good job, but … there are two areas that I feel that we need to address in Georgia. The first is the recruiting. I miss the days when everyone was for their school and would work hard to make their school the best instead of looking for instant success. This is a growing issue. The second is the six-quarter rule and kids being penalized for playing on special teams. I feel that special teams plays should not count against them.”
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