By Rory Sharrock
It's a new season of football at Mt. Zion High School, however, there's a Clayton County oldie but goodie working the sidelines as assistant coach under head man Jarrett Laws.
Former Morrow High School star football player and class of 1987 graduate Ed Reed, who previously worked for Mt. Zion coaching legend Jackie Green, has made a triumphant return to the game as a wide receivers coach for the Bulldogs.
Reed's overwhelming knowledge of the game, combined with Laws' pass-happy offense, is a match made in football heaven as both men hope to return Mt. Zion to glory and soar to new heights in 2008.
"With a receivers coach like that, on top of everything else, it's less about what he knows and more about how excited he is," said Laws.
"He gets the kids excited about playing. I think that's more important about a coach than anything else. A coach can be the smartest guy in the world, but if he's not excited, than he's no good. His energy is vital to our success."
It's this passion and excitement that fuels his fire way beyond teaching proper route running techniques.
Reed is a living testament of inspiration and he's penned the perfect script for success.
In 1985 during his junior year with the Mustangs, Reed took on a battle for his life after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. The cancer had spread to his stomach and lymph nodes, which forced him to sit out the season to undergo chemotherapy.
However, all was not lost in terms of life and football.
Despite sitting out his entire junior season, Reed made a glorious return to the gridiron as a senior, was named as an All-Region receiver and earned a scholarship to play for the University of West Georgia.
"My life wasn't in immediate danger, but it was going to take a fight to beat the disease," said Reed. "The doctors said you're going to survive, but football is not in your future. I came back and played, went to West Georgia and 23 years later I'm back coaching in the county I grew up in. It's sweet justice."
Reed is a life-long Clayton County resident and his devotion to the region
extends to off-the-field business activities.
His computer skills rival his football intelligence and he's used those talents to work in information technology for the school district.
Now, that he's back in his element of coaching, he can begin to share his wisdom and strategies of what it takes to be a winner on the field and good teammate in the locker room.
"For him (Reed) to be a link to the past is very important to me because I'm trying to get the kids to understand the history of Mt. Zion," said Laws.
"Anyone who can overcome cancer, this (practice) is minor. It shows the kids that the problems they face are minor compared to what he's been through. As long as they can use him as an inspiration, it makes us better," said Laws.
After going through an entire season of spring practice, along with one week of training camp, he has a positive outlook of his receiving core and their ability to make defenders take notice this fall.
"On paper we look good, but it depends on what these 16, 17 and 18-year-olds want to do on Friday night. We have a good group and a good attitude. We're looking forward to a promising season," said Reed.
Just like all the high schools in Georgia, Mt. Zion will compete this season with new teams in it's sub-region, including Alcovy and Ola.
Reed's wide outs will travel to Meadowcreek for a scrimmage before opening up the season on Aug. 29 versus former sub-region rival Lovejoy at Twelve Oaks Stadium.