This season, North Cobb produced the best record of its program’s history, won its first postseason game since 1979 and its first state playoff game since 1959.
The man at the helm of that success, Shane Queen, has received much of the credit, but he’s quick to say it took more than him to put a winning team on the field.
Queen, the 2012 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Football Coach of the Year, said he would feel better if it was a staff or team honor that was being awarded.
“Obviously, hiring a great staff was the first thing we did right,” he said. “It’s the best staff I’ve had since I’ve been a head coach.”
Tom Clark and Chad McGehee serve as Queen’s offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively. Also on the staff are Kenyatta Ashley (inside linebackers), Steve Gates (offensive line), Ryne Thackston (receivers), John Almy (linebackers), Jan Bennett (outside linebackers) and T.K. Dodd (running backs).
Two of Queen’s assistants also have experience as former head coaches in Cobb County — McGehee at Kennesaw Mountain and Dodd at Campbell.
“I don’t think it should be a ‘coach of the year,’” Queen said. “I think it should be ‘staff of the year’ or ‘team of the year.’”
Queen said it doesn’t stop with the staff.
It also takes a group of players who are willing to respond to their coaches and dedicate themselves to the team.
“You have to have a group of young men who will buy into your vision,” said Queen, who credited the senior members of the Warriors for motivating the underclassmen. “We had a great group of seniors who, for the last year or couple of years, have made a list of goals at the end-of-the-year banquet of stuff they wanted to accomplish their senior year.”
Queen said the players achieved nine of the 10 goals the set — only falling short of the Region 4AAAAAA title. The goals included winning every game at home (going 7-0), having the best offense in the region (averaging 41 points per game) and the stingiest defense in the region (an average of 20 points allowed).
“They had a vision that they bought into,” Queen said. “They had goals, and they worked all offseason to do it. Without a solid coaching staff, without senior leadership — those young men buying into what you are preaching — you aren’t going to be successful. We just had the right combination of men, and the younger classmen followed the lead. It’s not just a head coach thing.”
Not only that, but the success North Cobb had in 2012 had its roots in years past.
The Warriors finished with five wins in three of the last four seasons. They last won 10 games in 2007, but that team saw an undefeated regular season turn into a first-round state playoff loss.
“It goes back to the kids believing in what you preach,” Queen said. “The success we had in 2007 goes to that. The biggest thing is the guys were tired of hearing about the 2007 football team. They wanted to leave their own legacy.
“When we won two playoff games, they said, ‘Can we put that to rest?’ Obviously, they wanted to set their own goals and accomplish them, and they went out on a mission and did that.”
Particularly meaningful for Queen was the Warriors’ 42-14 victory over Valdosta in the opening round of the state playoffs — Queen’s first playoff victory as a coach. It was even more meaningful that he was able to share the victory with his son, quarterback Tyler Queen.
Going forward, the coach hopes his returning players will see the positives in what this year’s group of seniors did. Queen said his juniors have already met to discuss the goals they want to set for next season.
“It’s a cycle — success breeds success,” Queen said. “It will continue if you fill those shoes the seniors leave.”