The Lovett Lions are off to an impressive start, having won their first four games to earn the state’s No. 2 ranking for Class AA. Last Friday, they beat AAA’s No. 2 team, St. Pius X, 28-7 in a game they led 28-0. I recently chatted with Lions coach Mike Muschamp about the season thus far and why his team is succeeding, among other topics:
Krohn: The big win against St. Pius X – did you expect such a convincing win?
Muschamp: No, we did not. The ball just kind of went our way, I think. The defense did a great job of taking away what St. Pius X does well early on, and we scored points early and it took them out of their game.
Are you concerned your kids could become overconfident?
I’m not worried about them being overconfident. As coaches, we do everything we can to make sure they know where they are in the season. We can deflate that overconfidence if it needs to be.
Talk about how your team has executed the game plan so far this season. Are they doing the little things?
I think that’s why we’re where we are – we’re doing the little things. We are never going to be as big and fast and strong as the teams we play, and we accept that challenge. So far, we’ve done good at doing the little things, like lining up correctly and covering gaps and the tings other teams might not be doing quite as well. Were’ playing good mentally and physically.
What do you feel you need to work on most?
In order to be kind of team I think we want to become, we’ve got to continue to work hard. A lot of teams start to have success and then stop working hard. We want to make sure we don’t do that. With the season and schedule we’re playing, all teams are good and well-coached, so we cant be taking steps back. The way I see it, you’re either getting better or worse, so as long as we’re striving for perfection, hopefully good things will happen.
Does this year feel special/different?
No, not really. With the football season, each day is a great day, watching kids progress since Aug. 1. That’s the fun part about it, is each year is different and special and it’s always a lot of fun watching kids grow together.
Talk about how you go about building your out of region schedule. How does it come together? It seems like you really wanted to challenge your team before your region schedule began.
We always want to play the best opponent we can and preferably in our classification, and reduce travel time. We don’t want to take our kids out of class unless it’s the playoffs. We look for best quality opponent we can find and call as many teams as we could – the teams on our schedule are the teams that called us back. We set up the home and away games, thinking about challenges that could give us problems in the playoffs. We don’t want to be in Week 11 facing the option for the first time when the opposition has been doing it for 14 weeks and you have to prepare in three days. So we schedule teams that run the option and spread to prepare for the likes of Calhoun and others. We want to go get the best opponents we can.
(Playing teams in higher classifications) was not by design, it’s just how it worked out. Weslyan, GAC, Westminster – they’re all having to do same thing. We try to set up a good challenge that’s also not a three-hour bus ride. This is supposed to be extracurricular. Thomasville had to drive four hours last year and a whole day of school missed. That’s not supposed to be that way. Now, the playoffs are a different story.
I try to engage with my readers as much as possible and listen to their comments, ignorant or insightful. One of the sticking points some seem to go to with your region is that it’s small and almost impossible not to make the playoffs. Is that a fair knock and is that how you see it?
On one end, you’d think everyone (in Region 6-AA) is going to make the playoffs. On the other hand, between playing the and region and non-region schedule – it’s next to impossible to not play teams in higher classifications – you’re playing weeks of physical, well-coached opponents that play hard (in the region). So you’re not at any advantage when you get to the playoffs.
What do you think are the biggest challenges standing in your team’s way of a second region title and how important is the No. 1 seed for you, as opposed to a 2 or even 3?
Getting through the games against our biggest opponents and the region schedule while staying healthy is the challenge. Everyone is playing outside the region and classification right now, so I don’t think you can look at our region records and know how good it is yet. The biggest factor is whose the healthiest. … The No. 1 seed means home field in the first three rounds, so you always want to be at home. We’ve always done well on the road, but we’d much rather play at home. The No. 2 seed is going to get a home game, and home games make the routine easier.
Do you feel you have the best team in the state?
No, not at all – we’re nowhere near where we want to be. But we’re happy with our progress.
Do you think the rankings mean anything to your players?
Not really. Ranking teams in high school is so hard to do. In college, you see everyone play on TV and who they have on their team. In high school, there’s no way to get down and see Seminole County (in Donalsonville) play. Talking about rankings during the season is – I’m not going to say not a waste of time, but a guess more than anything else. Someone in north Georgia is supposed to decide where teams like Vidalia and Benectine fall in the rankings. I know I haven’t seen them on film.
Adam Krohn covers all things Class AA football. Have a question or tip? Want to see more coverage of your team? Want to drop a line to compliment how awesome the Class AA beat coverage is? Send Adam a message on Twitter @AdamKrohnAJC and follow him for the latest in Class AA coverage.