Kell coach Derek Cook is no exception.
However, there is a group of officials who feel the Longhorns’ coach is still a class act.
That led to Cook being named the Georgia High School Association Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Area Football Officials Association for his candor on the sidelines during games.
“We look for sportsmanship and coaches who lead by example,” AAFOA secretary David Hudson said. “(Cook) is always polite on the sidelines. He doesn’t agree with everything that we do, but he is polite and he accepts it. That’s all we can ask for.”
The Marietta-based AAFOA helps organize officiating crews for high school games across metro Atlanta and the state, and it’s especially busy come state playoff time. It doesn’t typically lean toward honoring a coach who simply has the best record, a state championship or turned a program’s fortunes around.
Although Cook was successful in 2012, he didn’t have that kind of season. He did lead Kell to a 10-2 record and the Region 7AAAAA championship, but the Longhorns fell to eventual state champion Gainesville in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
In the end, Cook’s latest coaching honor was based on how the Longhorns carried themselves while playing football.
“(The AAFOA) is one of the premier officials’ organizations in Georgia. In my opinion, any time you get a coach of the year award, it’s flattering,” Cook said. “This one isn’t tied to being a region champion. Hopefully, it’s for recognizing good sportsmanship and character.”
Kell has been known as a physical team ever since Cook took over in 2008, which could make the Longhorns easy targets for personal-foul and unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties. They’re known for running the ball, stopping the run and grooming highly talented members of the secondary.
With that said, disciplined behavior is often discussed as Friday nights draw near.
“It’s certainly something that we focus on every day at practice,” Cook said. “We talk about not getting unsportsmanlike and about our character. We try to keep our mouths closed and let our pads do the talking. I’m sure that there is chitter-chatter going on out there. I just hope it’s competitive in nature.”