Armed with their best one-liners, jokes and put-downs, each of the nine Clayton County football coaches stepped to the podium during the annual Rotary Club Of Clayton County Crying Towel luncheon to poke fun at their teams.
Morrow first-year coach J. Livingston took top honors in winning the award, a blue engraved towel. A longtime basketball coach in the county, Livingston inherits a Morrow squad that returns nine total starters from a team that finished with a 2-8 record last season.
"I've noticed there's a big difference in a football and basketball," Livingston began his short speech. "A football doesn't bounce. When it (football) is dropped on the ground, everybody starts hollering, ‘Fumble!'"
But it was probably Livingston's story about his barber's parrot that impressed the Rotarians.
Livingston said he visited his barber three times, and each time the barber would step out of the room, his parrot would shout, "Morrow can't win. Morrow can't win." On the fourth visit, Livingston confronted his barber about the parrot. Livingston said the barber took the parrot in the back and scolded it.
After the barber left the room again, Livingston said the parrot looked and him and said, "You know what."
Drew coach Jarrett Laws was perhaps the most creative as he wrote a poem to poke fun at his team. He had won the last two.
But for the most part, it was just old-fashioned one-liners that kept most of the crowd at the National Archives Building in Morrow laughing.
"I'm not good at telling jokes," Mount Zion coach Jamie Aull told the gathering of principals, athletics directors and Rotarians. "But if you want to see a joke, just come out and watch my team play."
At Mundy's Mill, according to coach Peniel Dany, things have gotten so bad that the school's custodian has been drawing up plays for him to try.
"This guy is supposed to be cleaning the school, but he comes to me with this sheet of plays," said Dany, who held up a sheet of paper with some plays sketched on it. "Things have gotten so bad that when I went into a region meeting before the start of practice, and coaches are sitting there flipping a coin to see who will have the benefit of playing Mundy's Mill for homecoming."
Edmund Coley takes over a Forest Park program that has had nine different coaches in the past 12 seasons. The former Locust Grove offensive coordinator offered a peace offering for those who happen to run into a Forest Park player in the community.
"If you see a kid that says he plays football for Forest Park, just tell him, ‘Bless your soul,' " Coley said.
Al Hughes has won a few Crying Towel Awards during his tenure at both Lovejoy and Jonesboro, but the coach now says that can be a bad omen.
"I've done some research, and several times after the coach has won this award, he was fired the next season," Hughes said. "I'm trying my best not to win this award."
Known throughout the Southern Crescent as Lovejoy University, because it has produced several Div. I players over the last few years, Hughes said that will not be the case this season. He quipped that his team was small and slow.
To illustrate his point, Hughes brought a small replica helmet to the podium and said it belongs to his biggest player.
"Please take it easy on us this season, we don't have any players," Hughes told his coaching counterparts.
But he will get no sympathy from new North Clayton coach Max Wiltz, who has been trying to replace several assistants because of a new county policy that restricts the use of community coaches.
"I'm Max Wiltz, the head football coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, bus driver, water boy," he joked.
For most of the coaches the joking stops this weekend, when they begin playing preseason scrimmages.
"I can't wait," Deny said.
And neither can the custodian.