For the coach that many consider to be one of the top high school coaches in the country, Rush Propst spent a few anxious months wondering if he would ever be roaming a high school football sideline again. After he led the Colquitt County Packers to five state championship appearances and two titles, Propst was unceremoniously terminated under a cloud of allegations that were later found to be unfounded. His teaching certificate was reinstated, and Propst was eligible to teach and coach once again.
After first accepting a job and then resigning at USA Academy, Propst became a candidate for the head coaching position at Valdosta High School. After a two-month search involving numerous candidates, Propst was hired as the 17th coach in Valdosta football history.
“I’m so thankful to be back coaching high school football,” Propst said. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be than coaching high school football and especially here at the winningest high school football program in the United States. I’ve had some good jobs, but there’s none better than this one. This is my dream job.”
Propst said that as happy as he is to be in Valdosta, the circumstances surrounding the job have been tough.
“It’s been crazy,” Propst said with a chuckle. “In 31-plus years of coaching, I’ve never been so overwhelmed. There’s just so much to get done. I have a white board of things to do, and it’s a mile long.”
The hiring process was a lengthy one, as the Valdosta Board of Education sorted through dozens of applicants, many of them with years of experience coaching high school football. Propst was hired on April 14, leaving him just a little under two months to hire a full staff of assistant coaches before players began reporting for offseason workouts.
“I spent 3.5 weeks working non-stop, night and day, trying to put a staff together,” Propst said. “I finalized the last hire of my staff, and we had our first meeting as a staff on June 1. One week later, on June 8, our players arrived to begin workouts. It’s been a full, all-out sprint ever since. We were already way behind with me getting here so late. Coupled with the fact that there was no offseason work, it put our program even further behind compared to if I had been here from the beginning.”
How far behind?
“We are probably about three months behind everyone else,” Propst said.
Then, there’s the impact of COVID-19.
“We had to shut down for a positive test among members of our team and staff,” Propst said. “That caused us to shut down for a period of time, which forced us to miss even more practice time.”
The veteran head coach also pointed to the lack of face-to-face time with players, which caused some uncertainty about which players were actually on the team and how many players Propst had to work with.
“There was a time where I only had 60 players responding to our Zoom meetings,” Propst said. “But we quickly found the rest of the team, and now we’re up to about 105.”
With a full staff and a full roster, Propst is now able to turn his undivided attention to doing what he loves best: coaching football. With several returning starters from last year, plus a handful of transfers who’ve enrolled at Valdosta in the offseason, the 2020 season and year number one for coach Rush Propst could turn out to be pretty special for fans of the ‘Cats.
Written by: Phil Jones