Archive for February, 2010

Metro football coach fondly remembers Bennett, talks to own players about death

High school football coaches around metro Atlanta couldn’t help but remember McEachern running back Rajaan Bennett, who died on Thursday.

High school football coaches around metro Atlanta couldn’t help but remember McEachern running back Rajaan Bennett, who died on Thursday.
After all, Bennett was one of the main reasons why McEachern posted a 10-1 record this year, including an undefeated mark in the regular season.
“It’s a tragedy,” said James “Friday” Richards, who recently retired as Marietta High School’s football coach. “Rajaan was a great kid, and I knew him personally.
“I don’t know any of the details, but Lord it’s a tragedy. All you can do is pray about the situation and talk to the kids you have at your school.”
Richard said he didn’t know what quite to say to the Marietta players who wanted to talk about it at school.
“I just hug them, and you know, say things to try to help them understand … It’s a sad reminder how tomorrow ain’t promised to any one. You have to …

Continue reading Metro football coach fondly remembers Bennett, talks to own players about death »

“March Madness” arrives in February for high school basketball … predictions?

Chat with the AJC's Michael Carvell

AJC's Michael Carvell

“March Madness” is one of the most exciting times of the year in sports.

The basketball wackiness tipped off the at high school level this week with the region tournaments.  Here is one shocker out of Henry County:

Ola High, which is only in its fourth year of varsity basketball, upset Jonesboro 53-49 to earn its first trip to the state tournament. Playoffs, baby! This is a school that won only six games in its first two seasons. They don’t have a player taller than 6-foot-2 on this year’s roster.

How did Ola do it? They hit some clutch buckets early, including a pair of deeeeeeeep 3-pointers in the first quarter by Thomas Werner during a 13-0 run (”He was at least 10 feet behind the 3-point line … seriously,” said coach Curt Miller). That got Jonesboro out of the zone defense. Meanwhile, Ola switched up its own defensive schemes, playing primarily man-to-man with strong backside help. It forced Jonesboro into making mistakes.

When the final buzzer …

Continue reading “March Madness” arrives in February for high school basketball … predictions? »

Wrestling’s revised schedule for state championships ‘like a box of chocolates’

“I made it to state” is a phrase that will be used more than ever by Georgia’s high school wrestlers  this year.

“I made it to state” is a phrase than will be used more than ever by Georgia’s high school wrestlers  this year.
Why is that? Due the icy conditions, wrestling’s sectional tournaments were cancelled. It was part of an emergency plan by the Georgia High School League, which compensated by adding an extra bracket for this weekend’s traditional state championships. For example, in Class AAAAA, the 16-man bracket has been expanded to 32.
The three-day competition begins on Thursday at Gwinnett Arena, with the championship matches scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday.
The cancellation of the sectionals definitely has its advantages: It allows wrestlers with nagging injuries more time to heal, more team members to experience the atmosphere of the state tournament, more time for coaches to study and plan for the brackets, and for deeper teams to rack up more points at state.
Continue reading Wrestling’s revised schedule for state championships ‘like a box of chocolates’ »

“Player of the Week” nominations from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

We get emails from all over at the AJC.

This week, there was one that popped in my inbox from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. You don’t get emails from Cuba every day.

It was from Quincy Jackson, who is in the U.S. Navy. He wanted to nominate his daughter, Lovett’s Tatianna Jackson, for “Player of the Week.” She scored 23 points in a win over Buford.

We don’t do a player of the week, but we’ll make a special exception this week for Mr. Jackson.

Thank you for serving our country.

Continue reading “Player of the Week” nominations from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba »

Swimming is winter tradition for Georgia’s high schools

Swimmers are easy to identify in the parking lot at Westminster School, host of the state championship meet: They’re the kids in the big fuzzy parkas and flip flops.

The water sport is a winter sport in Georgia’s high schools, and has been since it was introduced as a GHSA-sanctioned sport in 1932.

Why is swimming, which is enjoyed by nearly all recreational participants in the spring and summer, saved for the coldest time of the year on the high school schedule?

Pete Higgins, 76, who has coached Westminster swimming for 50 years and perhaps is the state’s leading historian on the sport, had the short and long answers.

“Swimming is a winter sport because that was the same time that the college teams competed, and the high schools just followed in line, ” Higgins said.

The longer explanation had to do with a numbers game among male athletes in the early years. Swimming was a male-only sport in Georgia until 1953. With football anchored in the fall, and other sports such as …

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Georgia High School All-American (Wheeler’s Jelan Kendrick) is snubbed on All-Region basketball team

Jalen Kendrick (McDonalds.com)

Jelan Kendrick (McDonalds.com)

Wheeler’s Jelan Kendrick is considered one of the nation’s top high school basketball players. He was the only Georgia player picked for the McDonald’s All-America game, and will be a finalist for several Mr. Georgia basketball honors.

However, in a stunning turn of events, Kendrick was not selected as a first-teamer for All-Region, which was released on Monday.

The 6-foot-7 Kendrick, who has signed with Memphis and averages 16 points, earned second-team honors for Region 6-AAAAA.

What the heck is going on? How can an All-America selection not make All-Region? What are we missing?

“You got me, I don’t know how Jelan can be good enough for All-America but not for first team in the region,” Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said on Monday afternoon. ”Jelan is having a good senior year, and we’re first on our side of the subregion.”

“I won’t comment on this any further … you all can figure this out.”

The All-Region team is voted upon by the region’s …

Continue reading Georgia High School All-American (Wheeler’s Jelan Kendrick) is snubbed on All-Region basketball team »

Georgia High School Football Daily Spotlight: GHSA executive committee to discuss Northside’s placement

Northside of Warner Robins, the 2009 Class AAAAA runner-up in football, could find out later this month whether its move down to AAAA for 2010 will stick or whether new projected enrollment figures could force the Houston County school to remain in AAAAA.

The Georgia High School Association has called a special meeting of its executive committee on Feb. 24 in Forsyth to discuss it.

At issue is whether the GHSA’s bylaws allow the association to change a school’s class assignment after reclassification has been ratified, as it was in January, when Northside was placed in AAAA with a projected enrollment of 1,820. The cutoff for AAAAA is 1,900.

Also at question is whether the Houston County school board’s revised projection of 1,994 students, released in January, is the appropriate figure to determine Northside’s placement. The number changed amid rezoning negotiations to accommodate Houston County’s newest school, Veterans High.

“The bottom line is a mistake has been made and we …

Continue reading Georgia High School Football Daily Spotlight: GHSA executive committee to discuss Northside’s placement »

Forget rankings (we’ve got them, though): It’s region tournament time

Not much to talk about with the rankings due to all of the postponements, although the NW Whitfield girls are No. 1 in AAAA.

Most interesting are three pretty good boys games in metro Atlanta tonight –

- Wheeler vs. Walton
- Campbell vs. Milton
- Tucker vs. Miller Grove.

These are regular-season games in regions where seeding matters. Milton is looking at a do-or-die quarterfinal later this week in the Region 6-AAAAA tournament against Walton or Campbell. That could be tough.

In Tucker’s region, not sure if it matters where you’re seeded. Just look for a pretty good team to be left out of the state tournament.

It seems unfair that schools as good as Tucker and Walton, teams that could make the final four, are struggling to qualify for state when many lesser teams have it made in easy regions. But I think Tucker and Walton and better off in the long run. I remember watching Tucker upset No. 2 Hillgrove last year. The teams playing the toughest schedules are going to be …

Continue reading Forget rankings (we’ve got them, though): It’s region tournament time »

Basketball called off by DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, others

You may want to check with your local high school before attending any basketball games this weekend.

Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb have cancelled all athletic events this weekend due to icy conditions. Several other metro counties were expected to follow.

“It’s going to hurt is with some basketball gates, but what else can you do? Safety is the most important thing with our kids,” DeKalb County athletics director Ron Sebree said.

The GHSA postponed swimming and wrestling for this weekend, but left it up to each individual school to decide whether or not to play its basketball games on Friday and Saturday.

The state’s basketball season is in a complete mess. Here’s the GHSA’s six-point plan to make sure the playoffs tip off on schedule later this month.

Do you have any suggestions for a better weather plan for basketball, wrestling or swimming? If so, post below.

Continue reading Basketball called off by DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, others »

Wrestling’s sectionals cancelled, state swimming meet pushed back again

With forecasts of snow and ice storms for Friday and Sunday, the GHSA has altered its schedule again.

The state swimming meet, which had already been postponed from this weekend until Monday and Tuesday, has been pushed back again. It will resume Tuesday through Thursday at Westminster School. The Class AAAAA championship will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, while the Class A-AAAA championships are scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.

Wrestling’s sectionals have been cancelled completely, with the GHSA changing the structure of next weekend’s state championships for traditional wrestling at Gwinnett Arena. An extra day has been added to the state tournament: Class AA, AAA, AAAA, and AAAAA will have a 32-man bracket (instead of 16), with weigh-ins scheduled for Wednesday night. Class A will have a 16-man bracket (instead of 8-man) and start at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Continue reading Wrestling’s sectionals cancelled, state swimming meet pushed back again »

The GHSA’s six-point plan to rescue basketball

Chat with the AJC's Michael Carvell

AJC's Michael Carvell

Basketball may be in big trouble.

Blame it on the weather.

The Georgia High School Association has taken drastic measures to ensure the most important thing — that the first round of the state playoffs will tip off on Feb. 26.

What’s the problem? It’s cold weather conditions, which have already caused a slew of postponed games on two separate occasions since early January. The forecast is calling for a strong possibility of more basketball delays this weekend.

What’s the GHSA solution? It’s a six-point plan:

  • While the GHSA postponed swimming and wrestling across the board, it has left it up to each school’s administration to decide on basketball. A decision by one school — for example, the visiting team — is binding for both schools.
  • Non-region games cancelled by the weather will not be made up. Some schools will feel that in the pocketbook by  losing rivalry games.
  • Region games that have no bearing on seedings for the region tournament will not be made …

Continue reading The GHSA’s six-point plan to rescue basketball »

NO SWIMMING ALLOWED this weekend by GHSA

Chat with the AJC's Michael Carvell

AJC's Michael Carvell

The Georgia High School Association moved swiftly to postpone this weekend’s swimming state championship and wrestling sectionals, while leaving it up to school administrators to decide on basketball.

It was the third time since early January that cold weather conditions have wrecked havoc on the GHSA’s schedule.

“We saw the handwriting on the wall,” GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said. “There were school superintendents poised to make that decision for their teams anyways. We didn’t want to have a few schools to drive a long ways to get to swimming or wrestling events early, only to find out that other schools weren’t allowed to travel.

“Somebody, somewhere in Georgia is going to get some snow, therefore we felt like we had to take quick action.”

Swimming’s preliminary races and championship meets scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Westminster have been pushed back until Monday and Tuesday. However, Thursday’s swimming events will still be …

Continue reading NO SWIMMING ALLOWED this weekend by GHSA »

Collins Hill boys, Parkview girls top the state soccer rankings

Chat with the AJC's Michael Carvell

AJC's Michael Carvell

2010 Georgia High School Soccer Coaches Poll (2/8/10)
Boys AAAAA
1. Collins Hill (129)
2. Centennial (105)
3. Walton (103)
4. Parkview (65)
5. Brookwood (61)
6. Lassiter (47)
7. Peachtree Ridge (43)
8. East Coweta (26)
8. South Forsyth (26)
10. Chattahoochee (21)
Girls AAAAA
1. Parkview (147)
2. Harrison (132)
3. Walton (105)
4. North Gwinnett (74)
5. Brookwood (73)
6. Greenbrier (42)
7. Peachtree Ridge (38)
8. Lassiter (31)
9. Grayson (29)
10. Collins Hill (27)
Boys AAAA
1. Marist (69)
2. McIntosh (64)
3. Lakeside-Dekalb (52)
4. Hillgrove (42)
5. Starr’s Mill (40)
6. Habersham (31)
7. Chamblee (22)
8. Evans (19)
9. Hardaway (15)
10. Whitewater (11)
Girls AAAA
1. Marist (108)
2. Whitewater (101)
3. Starr’s Mill (82)
4 Salem (81)
5. McIntosh (49)
6. Northgate (43)
7. Thomas Co. Central (40)
8. Lakeside, Evans (25)
9. Heritage (21)
10. Upson Lee (19)
Boys AAA
1. St. Pius (57)
2. Woodward Academy (53)
3 Carrollton (51)
4. Oconee (40)
5. West Hall (33)
Continue reading Collins Hill boys, Parkview girls top the state soccer rankings »

Woodstock High stays within the football program to pick new football coach

Budde mug[1]Woodstock High School has promoted longtime assistant Brent Budde to head football coach.

Budde is a “lifer” at Woodstock, beginning his coaching career at Woodsock in 1998, and serving as defensive coordinator for the past eight years. He succeeds Mike O’Brien, who retired after posting a 10-2 record this season. O’Brien, the former Valdosta coach, was at Woodstock for seven seasons.

“I am honored to be chosen to continue to winning tradition that we have established at Woodstock,” Budde said in a statement. “I will continue to make sure that our student-athletes excel in the classroom, as well as on the football field.”

Budde, who graduated from the University of Georgia, was picked the vacancy, which generated more than 100 applicants for the position. He is a three-time winner of Defensive Coordinator of the Year by the Cherokee County Gridiron Club.

“(Budde’s) knowledge of the game, our players, our program, combined with his tremendous coaching ability and enthusiasm, …

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Are the Redan girls the best basketball team in the state?

Chat with the AJC's Michael Carvell

AJC's Michael Carvell

There’s something special about Redan girls.

Actually, there are a lot of special things about the Raiders. They loaded at every position, including at least three major-college prospects as starters, and have one of the deepest benches in the state.

Is Redan on the brink of greatness? Or are they already there?

Redan is 23-0 , including a dominating win over archrival Stephenson. The Raiders are the defending state champions, and expected to win it all again, currently ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA. They are the nation’s No. 6 team in USA Today

Is Jerry Jackson getting a little too much credit for the team’s success in his first year as head coach? Probably. But he also deserves praise for not letting pride get in the way. You know, to make changes just to make changes, like many new leaders do.

Let’s just skip to the bottom line: Is Redan the best girls basketball team in Georgia? Is there anyone close? And if they win repeat as champs, where will they …

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