Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior, left, holds the Clayton County Rotary Club crying towel. Manior’s Tigers face off against defending Region 2-AAAAAA champ and state runners up Lovejoy in a season opener for both teams Friday, Aug. 30. (Staff Photo: Gabriel Stovall)
JONESBORO — It’s the award nobody wants to win, yet everyone has fun competing for it.
The Annual Clayton County Coaches Crying Towel Award Banquet, sponsored by the Clayton County Rotary Club and held this year at Red Lobster Wednesday, has taken place for two decades.
And according to Rotary Club president Karen Sullivan, it’s something that keeps getting better and better every year.
“We just love doing this event each time,” said Sullivan who has been the club’s president for the last 10 years. “We look forward to it, and the coaches do, too. It gives them a chance to rag on each other from year to year and just have some good-natured fun.”
Each football coach from Clayton County’s nine schools stood before the others, along with members of their respective school’s coaching staffs and administrations, trying to convince the crowd why their school’s football team will be the absolute worst in the county for the 2013 season.
After all nine coaches offered up their sob stories, a panel of Rotary Club judges deliberated to determine who’s coach pleaded his worst case scenario the best.
At the end, it was second-year Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior who came away with the victory, if you want to call it that.
As Manior sat down with his towel, one of the accompanying Mundy’s Mill assistants shouted out, “You won the wrong thing, coach.”
It may indeed be Clayton County football’s version of the Sports Illustrated jinx. Historically, the winners of the crying towel didn’t end up staying around very long at his school to win more.
“We seldom see the losers come back the next year,” Sullivan said.
Manior and Mundy’s Mill — one of the most improved teams in the Southern Crescent in 2012 — should be pretty confident that doesn’t happen this time around. The Tigers open their season against back-to-back state runners-up Lovejoy on Friday, Aug. 30.
The worst-team pitches were diverse, ranging from Drew coach Jarrett Laws delivering a eulogy to funeralize his Titans football program, and stating that burial services would be tonight at Southern Crescent stadium at 7 p.m. — the same time Drew faces off against North Clayton in a scrimmage.
New Forest Park coach John Diehl, who has inherited a program without a winning season since 2000, lamented that his Panthers deserved to be deemed the county’s worst team because they could only afford leather helmets — the kind worn back in the early to mid 1900’s — as well as a shortage of tackling dummies.
“We need five new dummies because the other five we had last year were seniors and graduated,” Diehl said.
Perhaps the best one-liner of the day came from Jonesboro coach Tim Floyd, as Diehl forgot to introduce Floyd as the next coach to speak.
“See, we’re so bad that we can’t even get any respect from Forest Park,” Floyd quipped.
Floyd has built Jonesboro into quite the respectable squad during his tenure as Cardinals football coach. This season, however, he will have to find ways to replace lots of skill position talent lost to graduation.
Lovejoy coach Al Hughes, who has guided his team to back-to-back state championship games, tried to convince everyone that his top returning player was their holder, and that the Wildcats best qualities were that they were “small but slow.”
It’s doubtful that many people believed it. But this moment wasn’t about being serious, county athletic director Kevin May said.
“I think it’s very important for these coaches to be able come together in this way and have fun,” May said. “They all have to work together in dual capacities with each other throughout the year, and this is a great way for them to foster relationships with each other.
“It’s good seeing them laugh and joke at each other. I think it’s even good for the kids as far as modeling sportsmanship goes.”