The second winner of the 2017 season is Travis Noland of Oconee County High School in Watkinsville. Noland was nominated by assistant coach Erik Kriebel, who said the qualities of his head coach match perfectly with the spirit of the Atlanta Falcons Coach of the Week program.
"Coach Noland is one of the most upstanding coaches in our business," Kriebel said in the nomination. "His number one priority in his career has been developing young men who will be assets to their community during and after their playing careers have ended."
Noland has been at Oconee County for four seasons, compiling a 25-12 record in his time there. Before Oconee County, Noland coached at North Carolina schools Clyde Erwin from 1998-2002 and Tuscola from 2003-04. His move to Georgia in 2005 began at Stephens County, where he compiled a 73-30 record in nine seasons before moving to Oconee County in 2014.
Under Noland's leadership, the Warriors have been to the playoffs in each season, and in 2015, Oconee County captured the Region 8-AAA title and Noland was named 8-AAA Coach of the Year. This season, the Warriors are 1-1 after defeating Walnut Grove 31-6 on Sept. 1. Oconee County will travel to Morgan County this Friday.
For the Oconee County community, the impact Noland has made goes far beyond football.
"Coach Noland has had a great number of successes on the field," Kriebel said. "But it is his impact that he has on his players and assistants that makes him one of the best people in this profession."
In service of his community, Noland established Victory Day after hearing about a similar event at a D-1 college. On Oct. 2, Oconee County will light up Warrior Field to provide a chance for special-needs individuals to experience the thrill of being on the field in a "Friday Night Lights" atmosphere.
"We started that last fall," Noland said. "I've got a son, Zeb, that plays at Iowa State, and I got the idea from them.
"We turn the lights on, the band plays, the cheerleaders are there and we just give our special-needs kids the feel of being out there on the field under the lights. We just want them to experience something that they might never be able to experience in their lifetime."