Marist has been one of the most successful programs in the state for more than two decades. Under the leadership of the state's most winning active coach, Alan Chadwick, the War Eagles are making their second finals appearance in four seasons and haven't missed the playoffs since 1994.
Jefferson, on the other hand, is making its ninth straight playoff appearance.
The two programs will face off on Tuesday for the Class 4A state title at Georgia State Stadium. You can hear the game live on WDUN FM 102.9 (Click to listen live) beginning at 3:00 p.m. with the pregame. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
The two teams have been ranked Nos. 1 and 2 most of the season. Both offenses and defenses are in the top three in Class 4A.
AccessWDUN caught up with long-time Marist coach Alan Chadwick (36 seasons) to discuss his group, its success over the years, and the matchup with Jefferson.
QUESTION: Coach, you’ve built Marist into a perennial contender over the last 36 years. What factors do you think have been the most important in building up the program?
I inherited a program that was built by Dean Hargis and already on solid ground. As an assistant to Coach Hargis for nine years prior to becoming Head Coach, we had already been to the semis and finals multiple times with some success. For all the years as head coach, I think there are several things which lends itself to maintaining a program at a high level. First, it begins with your coaching staff. You have to have coaches who are dedicated, committed, energetic and knowledgeable. The assistant coaches I have had through the years are all those things as well as good people that love and care for our players and yet tough enough to push and demand perfection from them. Secondly, having young men in your program who are willing to dedicate, commit and sacrifice to a very high level gives you a chance to be successful. At Marist, we have that type of student-athlete. Hard-working, intelligent players who are willing to give their all for each other and Marist School.
QUESTION: This senior class has now been to the quarterfinals or better all four years. Is it one of those special classes that come around every so often or is it more about buying into what you guys have been teaching? A combination of the two?
ANSWER: This Senior class has been a special group since they first entered Marist in the seventh grade. They have been successful because they are smart, athletic, cohesive, dedicated, physically tough and resilient. They have witnessed success and extreme disappointment. Their love and care for each other and the closeness their share have played an integral part in the success of the group and helped them to overcome adversity.
QUESTION: This is the first meeting between these two teams, and both run similar offensive schemes. What have you seen that piques your interest about the Dragons?
ANSWER: Jefferson is an extremely well coached team and they play with great passion and confidence. This game will be a tremendous challenge for us and we will have to play well to gain any success.
QUESTION: Both teams are at the top of the classification in both offense and defense. Both teams like to run the ball. The matchups on both sides should be outstanding. Is there one matchup, in particular, you are looking forward to watching as a coach?
ANSWER: Yes, all of them. This is a game where every facet of the game is important, offense, defense, kicking game, turnovers, penalties. Each one will have a significant bearing on the outcome of the game as they are all important.
QUESTION: Your defense has been stingy this season. What are the main factors that make your defense so bruising, and what will it take to stop the state’s top offense?
ANSWER: As I mentioned previously ….. assistant coaching ( as they do most of the work) , players who give you everything they have, tradition of winning which Marist has , Administrative and school support , parents who are willing to turn their sons over to us unconditionally and a lot of hard work.
QUESTION: What do you see as the keys in this game?
ANSWER: The keys to this game are not making critical mistakes , field position and line of scrimmage play.
QUESTION: Offensively, you guys are efficient and very disciplined. What have been the contributing factors to production of your offense this season?
ANSWER: Our offensive line has been the most consistent part of our offense. That is the group that has made any success we have had on offense possible. Also, I would say the production of an assorted group of skill players doing their part when their number has been called. Because we have used a multitude of skill position players throughout the year, we have struggled some for consistency but hopefully, it will come together just this once.