Archive for May, 2013

50 in 50: Ridgeland

The offensive numbers for the Ridgeland Panthers in 2012 were simply too large to ignore. The Panthers rushed for more than 5,000 yards, a key factor in their 13-2 record and appearance in the Class AAAA state championship game. They scored 40 points or more 10 times and only twice – in the semifinals and the finals – were they held below 35.

The vast majority of that production will graduate next weekend, including top two rushers Darrell Bridges (nearly 2,400 yards) and Vonn Bell (1,100). Between them they accounted for 61 total touchdowns.

“I don’t know that you can ever replace them. When you look at their production numbers they’re gaudy, x-boxish,” Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis said. “They had incredible numbers offensively and deefensively, but more than that was the attitude they brought to the field. They brought those intangibles to each huddle.”

The intangibles, he said, were the difference between the 2012 team and those that came before it.

“From top …

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Baseball: Lovett advances to state finals

By Stephen Black

Score Atlanta

Lovett advanced to the Class AA finals after a 9-2 Game 3 win over host Benedictine Wednesday in Savannah.

Senior pitcher Robbie Baker pitched a complete game to earn the win on the mound for the Lions. The University of Richmond signee gave up two earned runs on eight hits in seven innings. At the plate, Lovett was led by senior catcher Brant Wells, who drove in two runs during the Lions’ 4-run third inning, and fellow senior Sean Reagan, who knocked in three runs on a double in the sixth.

The game was delayed in the third inning due to lightning with Lovett leading 4-1.

Lovett returns to the finals for the first time since 2009, when it won the AA state championship. That same year, the Lions defeated arch-rival Westminster in the semifinals, which they will now face in the finals Saturday.

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50-in-50: North Hall

The last time North Hall was in this situation they wound up in the state semifinals.

The Trojans return a strong, experienced class of players from last year’s 11-3 team. There will be 23 seniors on the North Hall team this fall, which makes heightens expectations. The same scenario – plenty of experienced juniors coming back – led to North Hall going 13-1 before losing to Cairo in the Georgia Dome.

The same situation could be brewing again in 2013.

“This may be the most experience team we’ve had since that 2007 team,” coach Bob Christmas said. “We went to the Final Four with that team. Last year we played a bunch of kids. We could easily line up and have kids at every position that lettered last year.”

North Hall is one of the few remaining teams in the state that runs the wishbone and ran for nearly 4,700 yards last season. The backfield is led by quarterback Andrew Smith, who split time at quarterback with Brad Brown. Smith ran for 605 yards and 10 …

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Baseball: Tuesday semifinals roundup

By Stephen Black and Craig Sager II

Score Atlanta


Milton 10, Parkview 0: Pitcher Alex Schnell tossed a complete-game shutout for the Eagles, who made the finals for the first time since 2004. Parkview, the 2-time defending state champion, was held to one hit in a game that was halted in the sixth inning. Dylan Cease’s 2-run homer gave the Eagles the final scoring margin and allowed the mercy rule to take effect. Milton jumped all over Parkview in the first inning with a 7-run outburst. Milton advances to play rival Roswell in the state finals series.

Roswell 7, Walton 6: Syd Hopkins doubled to drive in two runs in the third inning to put visiting Roswell ahead 2-0. Lawson Dunkin had an RBI double in the fourth making it 3-0 Hornets. Walton cut it to 3-2 in the bottom of the inning, but Hopkins hit his second two-bagger of the game and sparked a four-run fifth inning that resulted in a 7-2 Roswell lead. With a two-out rally and a Chase Burks two-run homer, Walton cut …

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David Boyd hired at Excel Christian

David Boyd, the boys basketball coach who won six state championships before his forced resignation at Milton last year, is the new head coach at Excel Christian, a private Class A school in Cartersville.

”Blessed to be back in the game,” Boyd posted on his Twitter account on Monday. ”Looking forward to meeting all the players’ parents and the players at Excel Christian Academy at 6:00pm tomorrow [Tuesday].”

Boyd replaces Jon-Michael Dickerson, who took a job as a graduate assistant at Memphis University.

Excel Christian was 26-3 last season and lost to Aquinas in the Class A private quarterfinals.

Boyd was had coach for state championship teams at Milton in 2010 and 2012. Several of his Milton players have gone on to play for major college programs. They include Evan Nolte (Virginia), Julian Royal (Georgia Tech), Shannon Scott (Ohio State), Dai-Jon Parker (Vanderbilt), Shaquille Johnson (Auburn) and Charles Mann (Georgia).

Boyd resigned in September amid allegations that he …

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50 in 50: Calhoun

The road to the state championship game at the Georgia Dome has become a well-traveled one for the Calhoun football team.

In 2012, the Yellow Jackets became the second team in state history to reach five consecutive finals, second only to Buford, which played in its sixth straight title game last year.

The only blemish on Calhoun’s domination has been a 1-4 record in those games. The Yellow Jackets won the Class AA title in 2011 with a 27-24 overtime victory against Buford, which beat Calhoun in the final the three previous seasons. Last year, the Yellow Jackets lost to Jefferson 31-14 in the AA final.

“I told the team the other day that our goal is to win the state championship every year,” Calhoun coach Hal Lamb said. “That’s not going to change. We’ve been fortunate enough to get there the last five years, but we’ve been unfortunate just to have one [championship]. We’re kind of tired of getting there and not winning. To look at it the other way, a lot of …

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10 best HS offensive lineman

Our position-by-position look at some of Georgia’s best high school football players resumes with offensive linemen.

That’s perhaps the toughest position to rate because there are few meaningful statistics for linemen. Recruiting rankings don’t properly measure an offensive lineman’s value to his own high school team because college coaches want prospects (6-4, 290) while high school coaches just want somebody who can put a shoulder on somebody long enough to spring a runner or protect a passer.

Here are 10 that would please any high school coach:

- Dennis Edwards, South Gwinnett: First-team all-Gwinnett County in 2012. Edwards was credited with 17 pancakes and 35 knockdowns for a 9-3 team. Georgia State and Western Kentucky have offered, according to 247Sports. Projected as a center in college.

- Jake Edwards, Heard County: A first-team AA all-state pick last season, Edwards has several mid-major offers. Southern Miss and Central Florida lead, according to 247Sports. …

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Baseball: Semifinals roundup

By Stephen Black and Craig Sager II

Score Atlanta


Parkview 4-1, Milton 0-10: Mac Marshall pitched six shutout innings in Game 1 for defending state champion Parkview. Marshall threw six innings and struck out 10. Parkview’s Ryan Blanton hit a 2-run home run in the third inning while Sam McCoy, who closed out the game on the mound, also homered. Game 2 finished late. In Game 2, Milton starter Dylan Cease struck out 11 in 5.2 innings pitched while Jack Thompson homered and drove in three.

Roswell 7-0, Walton 0-1: In Game 1, Austin Krzeminski pitched a complete-game shutout for visiting Roswell. The Hornets’ Drew Davis drove in two runs. Game 2 opened with a Henry Rowling solo homer that would be the game’s only run. Raiders’ starter, Will White got the win after tossing six innings and Caleb Bohan pitched the final inning.


Greenbrier 5-6, Whitewater 4-3: Visiting Greenbrier trailed 4-0 in Game 1 before Adam Grice connected on a solo home run and …

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Golf: State golf roundup

Sophomore Michaela Owen shot a 71 to lead Lambert to the Class AAAAAA championship at Sunset Country Club in Moultrie. The Longhorns scored 220 and beat defending champion Milton by five shots.

Owen, the daughter of longtime Oglethorpe golf coach Jim Owen, tied for medalist with Kayla Jones of Milton, but won in a playoff when she birdied the 18th hole with a par. Green hit the green in regulation, but three-putted for bogey. Owen missed the green, but chipped to within inches to save par and win the tournament.

Lambert also counted a 73 from freshman Kayley Marschke and a 76 from senior Sloan Shanahan. Milton used a 74 from Nicole Latka and an 80 from Sally Morgan. Lambert won its region championship for the fourth straight year and returned from South Georgia with the first state girls golf champion for a Forsyth County school.

Class AAAAAA boys: Georgia-bound Zach Healy shot a 67 and led Norcross to its first state golf championship. The Blue Devils shot 294 to beat …

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Baseball playoffs reach semifinals

Parkview resumes its pursuit of a third straight state championship in baseball on Monday when the state playoffs start the semifinal round.

Here is a closer look at each classification as high school sports enters its final week in the 2012-13 academic year. Each playoff round is a best-of-three series starting with a double-header.

AAAAAA – Parkview, led by Josh Hart (.446) and Jarrett Hood (.389, 11 HR), is trying to become the first school to win three straight titles in the highest class since Evans (1988-1990). Parkview plays Milton, the champion of strong Region 5, which also delivered Walton and Roswell to the semis. This will be the 10th straight season that the champ in the highest class has come from Cobb, North Fulton or Gwinnett.

AAAAA – Starr’s Mill and Whitewater give Fayette County two chances to win a state title. No Fayette County school has won a state title in baseball since Fayette County High in 1964. Starr’s Mill, the Region 4 winner, …

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50 in 50: Grayson

It’s hard to get on with the future without reconciling the past. So it is with Grayson football, which had a memorable 2012 season for some of the wrong reasons.

Nationally ranked and picked to win a second straight state championship, the team underachieved.

The Rams did win Region 8-AAAAAA. They won 10 games. They blew out 10 opponents, including McEachern (Region 5 champion), Central of Miami (nationally ranked) and Brookwood (beat 10-0 Lassiter in the first round). Nobody wanted to play Grayson in the playoffs.

But four turnovers in each of two games – a 22-7 loss to Parkview in September and a 28-10 loss to North Gwinnett in the playoffs – conspired to ruin a season that many assumed would end with at least a state championship, if not a national title.

‘’I don’t think they need to be thrown under the bus,’’ Grayson coach Mickey Conn said. “They won a region championship, which is hard to do in Region 8. Winning a state championship is tough to do. I …

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HS sports: How much does it cost to play?

One Sunday in June, the AJC in its print edition will be looking into the issue of paying to play sports in Georgia high schools.

I’ll be writing on the subject and was hoping to get some stories and first-hand experience from the online audience this week.

Do you have a child playing sports in high school? What is the out-of-pocket expense (or dues or fees) that you are asked to pay?

Public schools can’t force student-athletes to pay for play high sports, but they can ask, and they can call these player fees mandatory when they really aren’t.

But no matter how you slice it, high school sports are expensive, and the money-making engine of a sports program – mostly football – can’t always cover the cost of uniforms, equipment, gas for bus travel, officials, etc., of a school’s 15 sports teams.

So how much does it cost to play sports at your school?

Is it too much? Is it fair? Are there some out there that don’t pay anything? Are there any paying $800?

What are …

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Class A Baseball Private School Championship: ELCA defeats Mt. Paran 5-1 and 4-1

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy waited seven years to celebrate another baseball championship. Saturday evening, they had to wait about a little longer than anticipated.

Leading Mt. Paran Christian 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh of Game 2 with the bases empty and two outs, after already defeating the Eagles in Game 1 (5-1), the Chargers thought they had recorded the final out of the series when freshman Cole Ganopulos got fellow ninth grader Taylor Trammell to ground out to first on a full count. ELCA players charged the field and dog piled on top of Ganopulos, as did several enthusiastic students from the bleachers. But the ball had hit Trammell’s foot and was ruled a foul ball by the home plate umpire.

Not to worry. After the fans went back to the stands and all the players collected their gloves and hats, Ganopulos zipped a fastball on the outer edge of the plate for a called strike three and a Class A Private School state title …

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Lacrosse: State championship roundup

By Score Atlanta



Westminster 8, Northview 4: Westminster prevailed over visiting Northview 8-4 to claim the boys Class A-AAAAA lacrosse title Saturday. Northview entered halftime tied with Westminster 3-3, but the Wildcats were able to outscore the Titans 4-0 in the third quarter. With the Wildcats leading 5-3, Westminster’s Read Ziegler scored by firing a shot past Conner Redmond from 12 yards out and the Wildcats pushed the lead to 7-3 after Blake Davis notched his second goal of the game with 43 seconds left in the quarter. Northview pressed hard and created shots in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats continued to create offensive pressure. Westminster’s Moss Shannon scored on a rebound with 7:41 left. Northview answered with Josh Porter’s third goal of the game, making it 8-4 with five minutes remaining. Westminster’s sophomore goalie, William Hudson, protected the net against Northview’s comeback attempt. He allowed just one second-half goal, …

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Class AAAAAA Boys Soccer Championship: Berkmar 2, Collins Hill 0

By David Purdum / For the AJC

In an unlikely Cinderella story, the Berkmar Patriots are the 2013 AAAAAA state soccer champions.

Kofi Twumasi and Awey Houry scored second-half goals, leading the Patriots to a 2-0 upset of perennial power Collins Hill on Saturday at Kennesaw State.

It’s the first state championship for Berkmar soccer and only the third state title in any sport for the program.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Patriots overcame a 0-3-1 start to this season to reach the state championship game for the first time.  Defending champion Collins Hill was making its sixth straight appearance in the championship game. The Eagles won titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012. But it was Berkmar that kept its cool Saturday, while the Eagles often appeared frustrated.

Scoring threats were few and far between in a physical and scoreless first half.

Berkmar (15-6-1) opened the second half with a flurry of threats, forcing a pair of lunging punch saves from Collins Hill …

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