Westminster hasn’t won a state championship in baseball since 1975. So you wouldn’t think there would be much pressure on coach Russell Wrenn, in his second season as Westminster’s head coach.
But this is Westminster, where the Wildcats’ sports teams have won nine of a possible 10 state championships this spring. Westminster has won some 200 state championships, more than any other Georgia school, but never had a season like this.
In fact, no school had won more the five state titles in one spring until this year.
‘’The golf coach and I were having lunch the other day; everybody else had finished, and they were playing Monday and we were in the semifinals,’’ Wrenn said. “I said, ‘I guess if we want to be back next year, we need to win it.’ The standard has been set.’’
The Class AA baseball series, which begins Saturday with a double-header that starts at 6 p.m. at Westminster, is interesting on several fronts.
Westminster has dominated spring sports,
Local rivalries will play out on a big stage Saturday when the high school baseball championship series get underway.
Three of the five best-of-three state final series match teams from the same region if not neighborhood. They are Milton vs. Roswell (north Fulton) in AAAAAA, Marist vs. Redan (DeKalb) in AAAA and Westminster and Lovett (Buckhead) in AA.
‘’There’s a lot of buzz on both sides,’’ Milton coach Joey Ray said of the Milton-Roswell series. “A lot of people who don’t necessarily follow high school sports, they ask who are you playing, and when you say Roswell, they immediately go, ‘Ooh!’ They get excited. We’ll get a hefty turnout of students, alumni and honestly just neighborhood folks who want to be a part of it.’’
Here is a look at the five remaining state championship series. Eagle’s Landing and Charlton County won Class A championships earlier this month.
AAAAAA – Milton and Roswell are the oldest schools in north Fulton County and
By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
ELCA Nation, your wait is over.
AJC.com’s “50-in-50” series brings you … the Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy Chargers.
Fans and supporters of the McDonough private school have wondered out loud for weeks about when ELCA would be profiled in the daily feature that has turned into a must-read for high school football fans.
Since joining the Georgia High Schools Association in 2004, ELCA has become one of the most successful programs in the state. Over the past five seasons, the Chargers are 55-10, and after a number of deep playoff runs without a championship, ELCA won its first last season in dominating fashion – 33-0 over Prince Avenue Christian.
Even though the title was won during the first season in which public schools and private schools in Georgia’s smallest classification competed for separate championships (Emanuel County Institute won the public school side), ELCA head coach Jonathan Gess said the victory was still sweet
Defensive line might be Georgia’s best position this coming high school season.
To continue our look at the state’s best players, here are 10 to watch on the defensive line. Although this is not based on their college potential, these 10 are major college prospects. How valuable are these guys in high school? Three played on state championship teams in 2012.
That includes Lorenzo Carter of Norcross, the top-rated defensive end in the country.
- Mekhi Brown, Carver-Columbus: A rising junior, Brown is committed to Alabama. He had six sacks and seven other tackles for losses. Teams began to run away from his side and leave a tight end and running back to block him on passing situations last season. Brown is 6-6, 230.
- Lorenzo Carter, Norcross: A first-team all-state player in 2012, Carter led Gwinnett County in sacks with 18 and made 136 tackles for the Class AAAAAA championship team. Rivals rates Carter (6-5, 235) as the No. 1 weakside defensive end and No. 5 overall player
It all comes down to this, doesn’t it? The buzz is building here at The List HQ, as the other sports clear the deck so baseball can close things out.
Seems fitting enough that the national pastime gets the final stage, so here we go. One final set of finals, and we can’t wait to have that bat ping ringing in our ears (It really does haunt our dreams – but in a good way, we think).
Of course, some of you have probably been distracted by hiking in a park or spring cleaning or doing other silly things that don’t involve watching high school sports, and you may not be familiar with the teams that are left.
That’s where we come in. Because we’re helpful people, here’s one player who’s worth watching from each team in this weekend’s finals.
10. Hays Meyer, Westminster P (Sr.)
Westminster’s ace all season (8-2, 1.45 ERA), Meyer has solidified that role in the playoffs. He won the opening games against Rabun County, Toombs County and Pepperell, allowing just eight
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.
By Stephen Black
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.
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
By Stephen Black and Craig Sager II
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
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
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
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.
By Stephen Black and Craig Sager II
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
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
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,