By SYDNEY PRICE
SANDERSVILLE, Ga. – The Washington County High School Golden Hawks varsity football team is already off to a great start this season, planning to make another run for that coveted Class AAA State Champion title.
The Golden Hawks, led by head coach Joel Ingram, are currently ranked 10th in the state and are so far undefeated this season with a 7-0 overall record. They are predicted to win the Georgia High School Association Class AAA State Championship, a title they fell one game short of just one year ago. The Hawks boast an impressive 2013-2014 season, going undefeated and finishing as runner-up to Buford High School in the 2013 State Championship.
With so much success, it can be difficult to keep a team of young men motivated; however Ingram does not let this task diffuse his team’s momentum.
“We don’t ever want to be satisfied with success; we don’t ever want to be complacent,” Ingram said. “Today’s success is tomorrow’s failure so we just treat it like we had a job left to do.”
The Hawks, who most recently defeated Glenn Hills High School 71-0, have a long journey to the championship game ahead of them. Ingram feels, however, that complacency will not get in the way of his team reaching their goals.
“We tell ourselves all the time that we’re not competing against other people; we’re competing against ourselves,” Ingram said. “I talk to a lot of coaches and they said their most difficult coaching job is coming off of a year where they were really successful and they had good players coming back, because egos can get in the way.”
Ingram said, however, that he instills a “low maintenance” approach in his players, discouraging them from reading predictions on social media and only focusing on the task at hand.
Hoping to lead the Hawks to another State Championship game at the Georgia Dome is senior quarterback A.J. Gray.
Named Offensive Player of the Year in Class AAA last year, Gray is a key asset to the Hawks making another playoff run this season, and is also someone Ingram relies on heavily to be a strong leader and role model to his team.
“My goal personally is to lead my team to a championship,” Gray said. “I just tell them to play hard and be the best people they can be.”
Gray will graduate from Washington County High School in May 2015 and has verbally committed to play football at Georgia Tech next fall.
In preparing his team for a successful season, Ingram strives to motivate his players and to let them know that nothing worth having comes easy.
“Our work is not done and every year is a new year. We never want to be comfortable; you look at all the greatest people in the world – they never achieved anything by being comfortable,” Ingram said.
The GHSA Football State Championship will take place at the Georgia Dome Dec. 12-13.