Four Questions with retired head coach Conrad Nix
This week, our Four Questions feature is being answered by some of Georgia’s best-known retired coaches. We continue today with Conrad Nix, who won 300 games as a head coach, 260 at Northside in Warner Robins. His 2006 and 2007 teams won state championships, each finishing 15-0. He retired after the 2009 season, which was the 12th consecutive campaign of 10 victories or more for the Eagles. Nix continues to assist his son, Patrick, head coach of Scottsboro High, which is currently 5-0 and ranked No. 8 in Alabama’s Class 6A.
1. What is the most memorable game you’ve been a part of as a player or coach? “Lincoln vs. Fyffe [Ala.], first round of the playoffs in 1970. We were 8-2 and Fyffe was 10-0 and No. 1 in the state and had beaten everyone by a wide margin, heavy favorite to win state. We upset them 24-13. [Lincoln was Nix’s first head-coaching position.]
“Irwin County vs. Fitzgerald 1972. Six miles apart. The rivalry was about like Northside/Warner Robins. Irwin hadn’t beaten Fitzgerald in about 10 years, and Irwin won 39-14.
“2006 Northside vs. Marist in the state championship. Home at The MAC. Great atmosphere. Marist – great tradition, great longtime coach, Alan Chadwick. Our guys played really well. Tijuan Green had 240 yards on offense. Ran the ball great behind an O-line that dominated. Defense led by linebacker Deonta Jordan held Marist to six points and under 150 yards total offense. Great night for the Northside family.
“2007 Northside vs. Tucker, semifinals at the Georgia Dome. We had won 28 in a row and trying to go back-to-back state champions. Third straight championship game in a row. As you would expect under Coach Franklin Stephens, they had a really good football team. Tucker jumped out to a 28-7 lead at halftime. Marques Ivory our quarterback had broken his fibula early in the season. He had limited practice during the week, so I decided to put him in in the second half. It was obviously a great decision. He had a great second half, completing 11 of 16 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Marques went undefeated as starting quarterback at Northside. Devin Pike kicked the game-winning field goal with eight seconds left to win the game 31-28. We won back-to-back state championships, beating Ware County the next week 20-14.
“My most memorable, though, I believe would be Northside vs. Warner Robins in 1975. Warner Robins had a great team led by James Brooks (Auburn), Ronald Simmons (FSU) and Jimmy Womack (UGA). Coach was Robert Davis. We had Lonnie Ford, Tony Davezan and Tim Walker. Not the names that they had but a lot of good football players. The crowd was unbelievable. People everywhere, about 18-20 thousand. Game was very physical, intense all night. David Norman threw a 40-yard TD pass to Davezan over Brooks with about a minute left to play to win 20-18. Northside fans paraded up and down Watson and Green streets, blowing horns literally all night. People still talk about that game.”
2. Which high school coach would you want your son to play for, and why? “I had the pleasure of coaching both of my sons, Rusty and Patrick. They might not agree, but it was a highlight of my career. Now Patrick is getting to coach his sons, Bo and Caleb [at Scottsboro]. If I had to choose, though, I would choose my high school coach, Bill Hawkins [at Oneonta in Alabama], who is 88 and plays golf three, four times a week. We still get together several times a year. Another would be Joe Sumrall, former head coach at Warner Robins. A good mentor for starting a career. Me, Robert Davis and Frank Orgel were part of the staff.”
3. What is your pet peeve as a coach or favorite saying/motto? “Maximum effort, play physical and never, ever, ever give up. Play Big. Hit ’em in the mouth. On game day, that is what I preach. ‘Play Big’ to me is blowing yourself up and playing a little bit better than what you are capable of. ‘Hit ’em in the mouth’ is just old-school football, manning up and getting physical. Shows who is the best man/team. Another one is James 1:22: ‘But be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves.’ But my very favorite motto/saying is, ‘It’s great to be a Northside Eagle!’ Northside is a special place, special school. The players believe in and love Northside. Student body, faculty, alumni, bleed blue and orange. I am just very thankful that I had a part in making ‘It’s Great to be a Northside Eagle.’”
4. Which GHSA policy or high school football rule would you most like to see changed? “I think overall Gary Phillips and his staff do a great job. I believe we have the best association in the country. Student transfer is a problem, but as long as parents make a ‘legal’ move, that is their choice. One thing I would take a hard look at is classifications. I believe we have too many classes. I know we are trying to get as many schools into the playoffs as possible, but the smaller number of schools in the regions, especially outside the Atlanta area, makes it very difficult to schedule games. Not very many people want to schedule Northside as a non-region game. In order to fill their schedule, teams are traveling many times more than 100-plus miles. For Atlanta schools, they might have one non-region game that they travel, but the teams outside Atlanta may have three or four games that they have to travel long distances. Then in most instances, your region games force you to travel long distances. I believe this can be improved by having fewer classes.”
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