Four Questions with former head coach Charlie Winslette
This week, our Four Questions feature is being answered by some of Georgia’s best-known retired coaches. We continue today with Charlie Winslette, who compiled a record of 260-134-3 in 34 seasons as a head coach. He is one of 14 coaches to win GHSA championships at two Georgia schools (1985 West Rome, 1993 Greene-Taliaferro) and one of three to take four schools to the semifinals. Winslette stepped down from head coaching after the 2011 season and is retired from teaching but is still on the sidelines as an assistant coach at his alma mater Putnam County.
1. What is the most memorable game you’ve been a part of as a player or coach? “With 42 years now on the sidelines, there have been quite a few. The Greene-Taliaferro 1993 state championship game vs. Mary Persons would definitely be one. We played a near-perfect first half and took a 24-0 lead. Mary Persons was having a difficult time moving the ball on the ground, so they did something that Coach Dan Pitts rarely did. They started throwing the football, and all of a sudden we could not defend the forward pass. The game was 24-21 with about 5½ minutes left, and our offense went on a drive covering 70 yards to run the clock out and preserve the win, Greene’s first and only state football championship in the 80-year history of the school. The fans tore down the goalpost on the north end of the stadium, no small feat as it was made of 4-inch pipe and anchored into 3.5 feet of cement. … It was especially rewarding for myself and Jim Keith, my offensive coordinator. We both had kids on the team. My son Matt was a senior [later an All-America center at Georgia Southern] on a team with only 29 players, son Jeff was a deep snapper, and most of these guys had been with us since the eighth grade. Only 15 guys played, as seven-eight played both ways. Jim Keith’s son Benn had as good a game throwing the football as I have ever seen, mostly to wide receiver Andy Glass, who doubled as a defensive back. He came from nowhere to run down MP’s best running back to save a touchdown and probably the football game. As a player, it would be our Putnam County championship 33-0 win on the side of a mountain in Trenton, Ga. [vs. Davis High] in 11-degree weather. This was also Putnam’s first and only state football championship. Our head coach, Al Reaves, was much distraught before the game as our place-kicker Bill Haley had sent four extra-point kicks over the side of the mountain, the footballs never to be seen again. The managers told coach, ‘We saw where they went, but we won’t be able to go get them.’ Coach Reaves was none too pleased about that. We did soothe his feelings with the 33-0 win with a young man named Brent Cunningham running from tail of the I. He later went on the bigger and better things for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.”
2. Which high school coach would you want your son to play for, and why? “This is a hard one as I have, in 42 years, known and observed many who I would have loved for my son to play for. John Waters and Lloyd Bohannon, who I had the opportunity to break in with at Cedar Shoals High School at the very beginning of my career in 1974 straight out of UGA, would be my choices. Although I had played football and been around the game for most of my life and thought I knew something about what was going on between the lines with the X’s and O’s, I soon found out that I knew very little. Coach Waters and Lloyd Bohannon and Bill McCullough, who did our offensive line, were good to me in the sense that they had the time and patience to teach me about the game of football. I was sent to Statesboro to scout Thomson High School and got caught up in watching the great Eddie Lee Ivery run with the football to the point my scouting report was not very good. Thomson ran out of every set under Red Bullock known to man, and I was not ready to figure that all out, much less get it written down. So when I got back to Athens and told Coach Waters my scout report wasn’t the best, he rewarded me for my efforts by sending me back to Statesboro the next morning to retrieve the film. There is no good way to get to Statesboro from Athens. I remember one night telling Coach Waters that instead of running the wall return, which to that point had been unsuccessful, that we needed to run a middle return. He told me without hesitation that if I had a middle return I could put it in at the half because we did not have one. He said that in a way that I was sure he didn’t want me near a chalk board at halftime even thinking about a middle return. I owe so much to these guys who started the Cedar Shoals program from scratch and made it into one of the better programs in the state who had the patience to teach a young coach about the game. They loved the kids, coached them hard, and the kids loved them in return. Couldn’t have started in a better situation with a better group of guys. [Coach Waters passed away on Wednesday, just days after GHSF Daily interviewed Winslette for this piece.]
3. What is your pet peeve as a coach or favorite saying/motto? “‘Big Team, Little Me’ is my favorite. Football is a team game, and to develop a winning chemistry on your team, the players must put the team before themselves. And missing practice – no way to get better if you are not here! And ‘Be the hammer, and not the nail!’”
4. Which GHSA policy or high school football rule would you most like to see changed? “No. 1, we’ve got to do something with players moving schools. Soon we will be able to present the state championship trophies at the beginning of the season rather than at the end. No. 2, JV players shouldn’t be charged with quarters played for only participating on kicking-game downs to the point where they are held out of JV games to help the varsity with the kicking game on Friday nights.”
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