Four Questions with retired coach Buck Godfrey
This week, our Four Questions feature has been answered by some of Georgia’s best-known retired coaches. We conclude today with Buck Godfrey, who was head coach of Southwest DeKalb for 30 seasons (1983-2012) and compiled a record of 273-89-1. He won more games than any other coach in DeKalb County Schools history. His 1995 team won the Class AAAA championship. In 2014, Godfrey was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame.
1. What is the most memorable game you’ve been a part of as a player or coach? “Year 1983. Site North DeKalb Stadium. Opponent Peachtree, which had played Valdosta for the AAAA state title [in 1982]. All starters returned. This same squad led by Todd Rampley had embarrassed SWD at Panthersville the previous year 35-0. Final score 22-20, Southwest. This was the benchmark win for our program. This win laid to rest the notion that on any given night a predominantly white team with white coaches could beat a black team with a black coach who only relied on ‘talent.’ Our guys were disciplined, well-coached and humble. This set the bar for DeKalb County and Georgia until this day. It really impacted our community with a sense of Panther Pride.” [The 1983 SWD team was the first of 12 region champions and six state semifinalists under Godfrey.]
2. Which high school coach would you want your son to play for, and why? “My son Colin played for me at SWD. However, he was exposed to so many fine coaches from whom he gleaned character traits. David Talton at Therrell gave him a blueprint of manhood, priorities and humility. Frank Yancey, defensive icon, taught him poise and composure under pressure while facing the likes of [fellow kickers] Chris Gardocki of Redan and John Kasay of Clarke Central in key playoff games. Billy Henderson of Clarke Central imbued mental and physical toughness in contests at Death Valley. Finally, Ray Bonner of Columbia and SWD instilled the importance of laughter, preparation for life and always without the trap of worries.”
3. What is your pet peeve as a coach or favorite saying/motto? “‘More than Victories’ was a saying I used because a winner or loser can never be determined by numbers on a scoreboard. There is no better classroom for teaching our children than a football field. What a guy or lady is doing 10, 20, 30 years down the line is the measurement of success.”
4. Which GHSA policy or high school football rule would you most like to see changed? “Our children are exploited by scouting services, AAU anything, Armed Forces or Under Armour anything, rogue ‘little boy’ park coaches who bargain with high school coaches, the perception that a child is no serious athlete unless he attends D-I FBS schools, hence scholarship promises to 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds by D-I’s. All of these negate the idea of education and the important role of great schools who don’t happen to be on TV. Transferring destroys communities and says what a sad state our families have become. Children go to the highest bidder. Shame!”
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