CARROLLTON, Ga. — Eagle’s Landing took another step forward since the untimely passing of its coach Joe Teknipp by promoting assistant Shawn Jones to Interim Head Coach this past week. One of Jones’ first acts at the helm of the Golden Eagles’ program was to guide a portion of his 2015 squad through some spiritual and physical team development at the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ football camp held at West Georgia University in Carrollton.
The camp began Wednesday and concluded Friday, and our editor Gabriel Stovall had the chance to talk with Jones and get insight from him on how he will seek to lead his team into a new era that, this time last year, was unforeseen.
STOVALL: Getting a chance to be a head coach, interim or otherwise, is a great thing. The circumstances in your appointment, however, I would imagine were not the ones you would’ve hoped for, is it safe to say?
JONES: “I think the key word in that statement is circumstances. This is definitely been a difficult one for me still. Joe brought me in and this would’ve been our seventh year together. Those circumstances are a little difficult. But I think going to the camp, talking with some of the counselors there — Mike Roby especially — opened my eyes to a few things. Between Mike Roby and (Tri-Cities) coach Kenneth Miller, they, on two different occasions opened my eyes to some different things about letting go and realizing that this is okay, you’re here for a reason.”
STOVALL: How did those assurances impact you personally?
JONES: “It took a lot off of my spirit for them to say everything they said. I guess I had to hear it from the spiritual side. They put it all in perspective spiritually, and then from the football side perspective.
STOVALL: What were some of the things they said to you to help get you over that emotional hump?
JONES: “Well, I won’t say everything, but just to give you an idea, Mike was just telling me to be myself — that I can’t be Joe Teknipp. Don’t try to be. Don’t worry about always thinking what would Joe do. There was only one Joe and there’s only one Shawn Jones. And coach Miller said that Joe kind of planted the seed for some things. He’s not here to see it grow, but he put it there. There’s a reason for anything we go through. Embrace that and go with it. It’s hard right now to understand all of this. But I feel like we’re prepared for this. Joe knew what he was doing.”
STOVALL: So from a coach’s standpoint, how did you see your guys respond this past week?
JONES: “I think we showed up on Wednesday, came back (Friday) and I think it was a growing experience. Wednesday the kids were a little tepid toward the whole football aspect, but by Thursday afternoon we were just full blown football and opening hearts up to hear the word of God. I think they needed that. Some teams from around the area came in there with over 60 kids. We didn’t have that. We took 27. What we had was a tight knit group, and they knew they had to come together quickly as a family, and I think they did that and really put the work in.”
STOVALL: I talked with (offensive coordinator) Chopper Clark last week and he said he felt like the more you guys get back to the football aspect of things, it would be therapeutic. Do you tend to agree with that?
JONES: “I think so. The football aspect is very therapeutic. Allows us to focus on the football. We’ve been through a lot, and even another one of our players lost a family member yesterday. So it’s been one thing after another. But the football part of it really helps us work through it.”
Check back with thecrescentbuzz.com this weekend from a more in-depth look at what to expect from Eagle’s Landing football on the field this season.