Sports Columns

July 14, 2013

Chris Whitfield: South Georgia suits successful Propst just fine

Hardcore high school football fans were aware of Rush Propst before he became famous to a wider group. With consistent success during 25 years as a head coach in Alabama and Georgia, Propst has always been well known in coaching circles and to some fans across the South.

But for another generation and a wider audience of followers, Propst is that MTV coach. During the 2005 and 2006 seasons, the network’s cameras followed Propst and his players at Alabama powerhouse Hoover High School, where he won five state championships in seven years with the Buccaneers. The resulting reality show, “Two-A-Days,” was a success for MTV, and Propst and Hoover — a Birmingham suburb — became nationally known.

But allegations of grade tampering, playing of an ineligible player that resulted in forfeits and the admission by Propst of having an extramarital affair led him to resign after the 2007 season. The next year, he was on the sidelines at Colquitt County in South Georgia, and in a short time, he has led the Packers back to the top of the state’s highest classification.

During the past four years, the Packers have advanced to at least the Class 6A state semifinals each season; all four of their season-ending losses have come at the hands of the eventual state champion.

“We are doing everything you can do, except win a state championship and consistently beat Valdosta and Lowndes,” Propst said Saturday at Christian Heritage during The Daily Citizen’s Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship.

Playing in the same region with Valdosta, Lowndes and Camden County — each of which have been a state powerhouse at some point — would be a challenge for most teams, and it has been for the Packers. They’ve made the playoffs in four of five seasons under Propst, but have yet to win a region title during his tenure, meaning they haven’t had the chance to host deep into the postseason.

But they have played deep into the postseason, which means they have also proven they can get the job done on the road. Colquitt County has won 11 away games in the state playoffs over the past four years.

It’s a reputation that Propst could do without.

“You can win two or three on the road, but you get on that third or fourth road trip and it is about impossible,” Propst said. “Our goal is to get some home playoff games. We are 11-3 on the road in the playoffs, but we are 2-0 at home.”

Region 1 in the state’s highest classification — the Georgia High School Association expanded from five to six classifications last year— has fairly earned being referred to as the Southeastern Conference of high school football.

“It is the most competitive region I have ever been in top to bottom,” he said. “Without question it is the SEC of high school football. We don’t have the legacy of Alabama or LSU. That is Valdosta and Lowndes and we do not have that kind of tradition. Valdosta has 24 state titles. Lowndes has five. We’ve only got one state title (won in 1994). I feel like we are the South Carolina in the SEC East or the Texas A&M in the SEC West.”

Propst has done his share of winning, though, going 45-22 in his five seasons in Moultrie to push his career record to 228-77 — and he said he has found a home in Colquitt County.

“I enjoy coaching the South Georgia kids. They are special kids to me,” he said. “You can coach them hard and demand a lot from them and most of the time they will not let you down. There aren’t a lot of distractions in areas like Moultrie and Tifton and Kingsland. Football is king. Small towns all across the state will pack a stadium on Friday night. That is the passion you get at a school like Colquitt County.”

It is his own passion that many critics of Propst point to from the MTV series. He was criticized for his harsh demeanor and his demanding coaching style.

“I am an intense man and I coach hard,” he said. “I am a competitor, and I want to win. If you stick a (microphone) on someone 24-7 that is just the way it is going to be.

“It doesn’t bother me that people think of me as the ‘Two-A-Days’ coach. I thought the MTV show was outstanding and it brought a new level of popularity to high school football to reach into a generation and a demographic that might not have really cared about the sport. It got a little more drama in the second season, but the first season was a lot of high school football.”

Since those days at Hoover, Propst has had to deal with other challenges off the field as well, including battling stage 4 throat cancer.

But through it all, Propst is happy in Moultrie.

“It has really been refreshing to be at Colquitt,” he said. “I love it. My family loves it. I like hunting and the small-town atmosphere. I am a country boy. Hoover was just a step in my life that I enjoyed, but I really like where I am now. Football is football.”

Chris Whitfield is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at

Text Only
Sports Columns
  • Doug Hawley: Cancer will not hinder Run for John’s finish

    With the seventh annual Run for John races scheduled for Saturday in Dalton, there is a community focus this week on the family of the late John Bruner.

    April 19, 2014

  • Devin Golden: Area aims for multiple tennis titles in tourneys

    Afew local high school tennis teams have had successful regular seasons and they aim for bigger achievements this week in the region tournaments.
    Murray County’s girls are right there near the front of the Region 7-2A pack.

    April 13, 2014

  • Chris Whitfield: Miller finds the win he has wanted

    Former Dalton High School standout Chase Miller has had four strong years at the College of Coastal Georgia, transitioning with the school as it went from a junior college program his freshman year to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics four-year school.
    The one thing missing from his résumé? A tournament title.

    April 12, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Big Three still a big deal for fans

    AUGUSTA — Sinatra is gone, but we still have his music. The same is true with Nat King Cole and Elvis. It would be nice to hear them in concert again, however. With Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, we are not sure what it will be like when they are no longer the honorary starters at the Masters.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tom Lindley: Managing dollars at the ballpark can be an exercise in good sense

    Attending an Opening Day game at a Major League Baseball stadium is one of life’s little pleasures. Everyone should get to experience it at least once.

    April 11, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Meeting old friends under the big oak a tradition, too

    The first time I was in a train station in Great Britain and saw a sign that read, “Meeting Place,” it brought me to a pause. How simple, how functional was this sign? In small towns it is not a problem to meet someone at Sheppard’s Filling Station or at the fireplug across the street from the Baptist church, but at a busy venue — like European train stations — there is nothing more sensible than meeting at the “Meeting Place.”

    April 10, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Golden Bear is still game’s top champion

    Jack Nicklaus is entitled to play the Augusta National Golf Club as a member now, which means when he takes friends out for a round of golf, he hits from the member tees. He hits it a long way still — certainly for a guy in his mid-70s — but not like in 1965, when he drove the ball on No. 15 so far over the crest of the hill that he only needed a 7-iron for his second shot.

    April 8, 2014

  • Chris Stephens: The boys of summer ready for rec baseball

    The emotions are far-reaching and played out all over baseball diamonds each summer. Fear. Anxiety. Fear. Anticipation. Fear. Excitement.
    But honestly, I have no idea how my son feels about his first baseball season. These are my emotions.

    April 5, 2014

  • Tom Lindley: Tough calls part of the job for refs

    Florida brings Scottie Wilbeken to the Final Four with championship hopes. Kentucky has Julius Randle, Wisconsin features Frank Kaminsky and Connecticut will be a tough out as long as Shabazz Napier has the ball.

    April 4, 2014

  • Heritage at NW base#1C009FA.jpg Devin Golden: Stage now set as NW, SE aim for series win

    The team isn’t the exact same, but Northwest Whitfield’s baseball squad is mirroring itself from a season ago.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo