VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Take a drive on I-75 north, enter Valdosta, and look to your right. You'll see Lowndes High School, and adorning the Concrete Palace? The history behind the Viking football program. Five state titles, and that rich history is something new head coach Zach Grage is looking to build upon.
"If we just maintain, that's not acceptable at Lowndes," he said. "We have to go above and beyond and get back to that state championship runs, not necessarily the quarterfinal runs."
That's exactly what Grage looks to bring.
"The players and coaches have been unbelievable about being open, being able to change."
Coach admits he feels behind the eight ball a bit.
"We got here in April, so if you look at the couple months, it's only been two months, two and a half months since we've been here," he said. "We did have to take a little dose of reality about where we are and what we're doing."
Team bonding and leadership building is a big focus for a team that missed out on that in the off season.
"Really trying to do a great job of focusing with our guys of how we do things, not necessarily what we're doing."
Football is football, and this team will be ready to play, and of him making the move from AA to AAAAAAA? Again, football is football.
"I left Thomasville, we had 128. Right now, we have 132," he said of the amount of athletes. "The biggest adjustment as far as I go is getting my wife and kids involved here. There's a lot of things we had to do at Thomasville, myself, our staff, where we had to do it on our own. Here, we have a lot more people involved."
Which means coach is just a head coach.
"This is the first time in a long time I'm not coaching a position," he said. "Being able to hire the best people that you possibly can and trust them to do their job has been a really, really good blessing."
A blessing two weeks away from seeing the field.
"You have that urgency of holy cow, we're two and a half weeks from kick-off, but holy cow, thank goodness it's coming," he said. "Also, being excited about the opportunity in front of us."
An opportunity coach plans to make the very best. Grage said the best thing he ever did in his career was coach in North Georgia for a year. It made he and his family appreciate south Georgia football. He said the majority of last year's coaching staff did stay, which has made the transition to Lowndes even easier.