Ryan Crawford knows there is going to be an adjustment period as he moves into the head coaching role for the first time with the Houston County Bears.
But Crawford, who took over the program after Von Lassiter was hired at Bleckley County, feels like he’s ready. Crawford and the Bears open their season Thursday against Jones County at Mercer as part of the Corky Kell Classic.
“Well, it’s exciting just to be coaching, period. Obviously, the game of football is fun for me, and I enjoy being around these kids,” Crawford said. “But getting the opportunity to be a head coach is kind of stressful and nerve-racking because there’s some new stuff going on. You’ve got to do some new things, but I credit myself for coming up through the ranks. And if you do it one time, the next time around, I can be a little bit better at it.
“There’s a lot of learning curve for me, but I’m excited about these guys I’ve hired as coaches. They’ve been doing their job and us building together as a coaching staff, I’m really excited to be here this year.”
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The Bears are looking forward to their first season with Crawford running the show, as well. Houston County finished 7-3 last year but failed to reach the GHSA Class 6A playoffs after finishing 1-3 in the difficult Region 1-6A.
“This is my last year, so I’ve got to put out this year,” senior offensive lineman Trey Hill said. “Basically, just get better and make it to the playoffs. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it last year, but I think we’ve got a pretty good chance last year. We know what people have got right now, the great players they’ve got, that we’re playing against.”
Former Perry, Houston County and Rutland head coach George Collins is on Crawford’s staff, along with Keith Gosse, who was the head coach at McIntosh County Academy from 2011 to 2013, and Don Hudson, who has been a head coach before, as well.
“The game management part is something I have to do more of,” Crawford said. “Luckily for me, I do have some guys on my staff who have been head coaches who I can lean on and can use as a resource to help me make good decisions on the field. ... I lean on those guys for a lot of things, and it’s been really helpful.”
Houston County Bears 2017
Head coach: Ryan Crawford.
2016 record: 7-3.
Returning starters (offense/defense): 2/7.
Players to watch: Trey Hill (Sr., OL); Khalil Polk (Sr., WR/RB); Kiefer Askew (Sr., WR/DB); Trey Franklin (Jr., WR/DB); Caleb Thomas (Jr., TE/LB); Zay Hicks (Jr., TE/LB); Keshon Jarrett (Sr., WR/LB); Tylon Chambers (Soph., TE/DL); Jamir Best (Jr., FB/DL); Sion Spencer (Jr., OL/DL); Gerald Daniels (Jr., RB).
Aug. 17 vs. Jones County (at Mercer)
Aug. 25 Peach County
Aug. 31 Eagle's Landing
Sept. 8 vs. Veterans
Sept. 15 Warner Robins
Sept. 22 Spalding
Sept. 29 Lee County
Oct. 13 Coffee
Oct. 27 at Northside
Nov. 3 at Valdosta