January 17, 2019

Times-Georgian Coach of the Year: ‘Heard County’s Humble Leader’

Courtesy of Mason Wittner and the Times-Georgian

(Franklin, GA) — Standing on a platform at midfield on the turf of Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 12, Tim Barron hoisted the Class AA state championship trophy in the air while tilting his head back and beaming with pure elation.

In his 17th season as the head coach of the Heard County High School football program, Barron had finally led his club to the promise land by defeating Rockmart High School, 27-6, to secure the elusive title he’d long yearned for during his incredible career.

Following the victory, he was quick to pass credit for his team’s championship campaign off to his players and assistant coaches rather than basking in his own accomplishments. After being voted the 2018 Times-Georgian All-Area Coach of the Year, Barron once again exuded incredible humility when addressing the honor.

“A lot of times when you get awards, you get them because you’ve got really good players. That’s the bottom line,” Barron said. “When you get honored as a coach, really it’s an honor for the kids that played for you. It’s a direct reflection of the kids in your program and the coaches you get to work with.”

Brave head coach Tim Barron and his wife Laura following the State Championship win over Rockmart

Barron went on to express his gratitude for his coaching staff, without whom he believes he wouldn’t be able to have success as the head man for the Braves.

“As a head coach, you’re only as good as the guys that work with you,” Barron said. “They’re the guys that do the game-planning. They’re the guys that do the behind-the-scenes, blue-collar stuff to put it together on a Friday, or, in the case of the state championship, on a Wednesday.”

Barron has been a head coach at the high school level since taking over the program at Alexander High School in 1999, but he still preaches the importance of entering every day with an open mind and willingness to learn.

Sitting in his office in the Heard County High School field house on a Tuesday morning in December, the head coach reflected on those who have influenced his life along the way of his career and taught him valuable lessons.

The likes of Ron Waters — an esteemed former Alabama state championship football coach who helped out with the staff at Heard County when Barron’s crew first arrived — and Jess Simpson — the former Buford High School head coach who made himself available to offer helpful feedback to a young Barron— made a lasting impact on his career.

An impact, he says, that helped push his team over the cusp to bring a championship home to the proud Franklin community after several close calls over the past few years.

“It’s those moments that everything builds off of,” Barron said. “To be able to to sit down and talk to those people that are very successful — and don’t reinvent the wheel, just kind of do what they’re doing — has been huge for this staff. Constant learning that you do in this business. You always stay true to your standards, but it’s constantly evolving and you’ve got to be a constant learner. If you don’t enjoy that part of it, you won’t last very long in this business.”

“I think every time you meet somebody, you can take something from what they give you and apply it to your program. I don’t mean you take one scheme and jump to another scheme. I mean you can take little things and apply them to your program. It helps you evolve as a coaching staff.”

The 2018 Braves finished the season 13-2 and at the pinnacle of the high school football world by being crowned state champions. But as Barron was quick to point out, even in the most successful campaigns, it’s oftentimes the moments in which a ballclub is faced with hardships that it truly is able to come together an blossom into something special.

“Obviously, there are lots of moments throughout the year. I firmly believe that having to go through that adversity at the beginning of the year, we won’t forget it,” Barron said “You remember the good things, but sometimes you don’t think those are good things when bad things are happening and then you look back on everything and how everything played out.”

It didn’t take long for Barron and Heard County to face such adversity this season.

After edging out a 10-3 win over LaGrange High School in the season opener, the Braves suffered back-to-back humbling defeats to Hapeville Charter, 33-3, and Rockmart, 33-0, in early September.

Heard County, of course, responded by ripping off 12 consecutive victories, but not to be lost in the run were close calls that Barron attributed to his team’s ability to persevere when having its back pressed against the wall early on in the year.

There are two such instances from this season that stick out at the forefront of Barron’s mind.

One is senior Alijah Huzzie’s 27-yard touchdown pass to senior Quincy Shepherd in a 13-10 win over Callaway. The other is Fitzgerald’s would-be game-winning field goal clinging off the right upright as time expired in the fourth quarter to allow the Braves to eke out a 38-30 victory in overtime of the Class AA state semifinal.

“Getting beat the way we got beat earlier has just as much to do with scoring with two seconds left or missing the field goal,” Barron said. “You remember that, and now you look back and remember it in a good way because it changed the course of where we were headed.

When reflecting on the moments that could’ve quickly changed the direction of the season had they’d unfolded even slightly differently, Barron cracked a smile and stated that, “the difference between having a great year and a good year is having some good things go your way.”

But perhaps an even bigger factor in the success of one’s season is just as Barron said — not being afraid to be resourceful and remembering to never stop learning.

“There’s so many good coaches in this area. You don’t have to reach out too far to pick somebody’s brain and to learn something,” Barron said. “Obviously, you feel proud, but at the same time it’s all those guys that voted, a lot of those I reached out to many, many times just to pick their brains because they’re good at what they do.”

Comments

  1. Priscilla Hayes Smith says:

    Congratulations on a job well done

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