0

DAILY POST COACH OF THE YEAR: Grayson's Mickey Conn

We like round numbers. Well, at least we like the last number to be zero.

We count to 10, then count by 10s. Forty is a noteworthy birthday. Fifty a monumental anniversary.

In sports, running backs strive for 1,000-yard seasons. Baseball players like 100 RBIs. A great pitcher wins 20 games in a season. If a basketball player scores 10 points, grabs 10 rebounds and gets nine assists, eh. Add in one more pass, triple-double. Celebration.

The only thing we like better than round numbers? Championships.

This year, Mikey Conn got to double dip.

When the Grayson head coach finally led the school to its first state title, he also picked up career win No. 100. It was the school's 100th win and Conn's, Grayson's only coach. A round number and a ring.

"With it being the 100th victory it is really unique," Conn said. "It gives me satisfaction that all the kids, all those guys that come through our program, they have a piece of it because it is the 100th win."

To win the first title and win the 100th game is a lesson in perseverance. The school stuck with Conn's program, and Conn believed in the system he put in place.

Even with high expectations entering this year, Conn tried to keep them out of his office. He knew he had talented players. There was a crop of unselfish running backs, a standout defensive player who also ran the ball, an experienced offensive line, a stingy defense and the best quarterback Conn coached since David Greene when he was an assistant at South Gwinnett.

During the unbeaten run to the championship, different players stood out in different games. There were plenty of non-contests against overmatched opponents, but there were also game-winning drives capped by the rare pass for the wing-T team, forced turnovers, time-sucking drives where the Rams looked overpowering. Guys played hurt, didn't ask for more carries, more snaps or more touchdowns.

"For these kids that did it, to take us to the pinnacle, I am indebted to those guys," Conn said. "They are so unselfish and so willing to do what we as coaches asked them to do to get to that point."

Conn finally exhaled after win No. 100. His phone filled with messages, emails poured in, fans, friends, former players, strangers. When he walked into his weight lifting class the next Monday his students gave him a standing ovation.

Last Saturday night after the win, as the buses rolled into the high school, the football field was lit and fans gathered waiting to celebrate with the team. Like Conn's program, the fans waited patiently for their turn at congratulations. The city of Grayson held a parade.

"I can't describe the outpouring of congratulations," Conn said. "It was just really neat. Just a lot of things you don't think about. I am proud for them. It's been really neat."

To get to 100 wins means plenty of memories. There was Conn's first win as a head coach, his first Class AAAAA win, playoff wins, wins over teams with rich traditions like Lowndes and Brookwood.

But one win wins out.

Win No. 100.

"This is definitely, this is the ultimate," Conn said. "This is the ultimate victory. It doesn't get any better than winning a state championship. This would be at the top. This was the top. This was the best feeling, the best win. I've had some good feelings along the way, some big wins. ... This one tops them all."