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COACH OF THE YEAR: Kelcey White

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Mount Zion coach Kelcey White was chosen the Southern Crescent Coach of the Year after helping the Bulldogs secure their first ever state playoff berth in school history this past season.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Mount Zion coach Kelcey White was chosen the Southern Crescent Coach of the Year after helping the Bulldogs secure their first ever state playoff berth in school history this past season.

Question: What was this season’s biggest highlight?

Answer: “The team played nine games in 10 days and we won seven of those games to clinch a playoff spot. That was a great accomplishment for this team in it being the school’s first playoff appearance. It was real special clinching the playoff spot on the last day of the regular season. To ask a majority team of underclassmen to play that many games in that many days was tough. It was a tribute to their character.”

Q: What was this season’s biggest challenge?

A: “When you have a potentially good team, but young team, you have to make sure they understand the vision and the goal. We missed the playoffs last season by one game by losing on the last day of the season. We had to keep reminding them about the goal. We tried our best as a coaching staff to keep the distractions down. This was the accomplishment of a lot of hard work by a lot of players, coaches and parents.”

Q: What did you learn about yourself this season?

A: “I had to learn to trust the work that was put in place to help make us successful. Before the season, one of our parent volunteers passed. This person had put in a lot of work that was important to our season. I learned that I had to allow the kids to play and grow this season. When you have talent, but young talent, you tend to make the mistake of guiding them too much. We had to build them to a certain point, and then let their talent show.”

Vitals: White is in his third season at Mount Zion after moving over from Stone Mountain High in DeKalb County. He also coached at Decatur High. A former player at Jackson State University in Mississippi, White guided the Mount Zion program to its first state playoff appearance in school history. The Bulldogs compiled a 13-13 record and were the fourth seed out of Region 4-AAAA. Mount Zion lost in two games to Harris County in the first round of the playoffs.

Others considered: Locust Grove’s Stephen Phillips after leading the Wildcats back to the playoffs despite graduating the majority of his 2011 team. Lovejoy’s Craig Chatman, who guided the Wildcats to the Region 4-AAAA title.

Where are they now: Last season, Patrick Smith of Mundy’s Mill won the award after guiding the Tigers to the Region 4-AAAA title with one loss. This season, the Tigers were a game away from repeating as champions. Mundy’s Mill advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.

— Compiled by

Derrick Mahone