On this Christmas morning I will don my Santa cap and hand out holiday cheer for the high schools in the county.
AUGUSTA CHRISTIAN: This one is easy. I give the Lions a deep run in the SCISA basketball playoffs. I can’t give them a title, but I would get them there and leave the rest up to them. This is not too far-fetched, either. They have a really good squad. We will find out how good when they travel to Columbia to take on Hammond and its high-flying point guard Seventh Woods. He is ranked as one of the top sophomores in the country.
AUGUSTA PREP: I would give the Cavs a little respect. There will likely be a dropoff next year in football with the graduation of Nate Pylant, Nolan Brandon, and Kevin Huggins, but this year’s team was very good, and Harry Bacheller’s offense poses problems for just about everyone.
EVANS: A healthy squad throughout the baseball season. It has been a while since Evans was a legitimate contender to win a state baseball crown, but with Kyle Anderson, Matt Anderson, and Raekwon Bennett leading the way, this year’s team has a chance to contend. Their archrivals at Lakeside and Greenbrier have combined for a three-year streak of advancing to the state championships. Evans has a shot to keep that streak alive.
GREENBRIER: A culture change in football. You notice I did not say a coaching change. I just wish Greenbrier (and maybe a few other teams for that matter) could experience what is happening at Lakeside. Granted, the Panthers have not won state titles, but since Jody Grooms and Jarrett Troxler came to town, something special has been brewing at Lakeside. Game day at LHS there is an electricity in the air. I wish the coaches, kids, parents, and faculty at Greenbrier could experience that same awakening. The school has achieved so much in other sports, but there is something about football that can galvanize the entire community.
With word that Fort Gordon has been selected as the new home of the Cyber Command, I wondered if that would mean an influx of new families to the area. With Grovetown’s proximity to the base, I’m am giving them a few key athletes for each sport. How about a 6-8 player for the basketball team, a game-breaking running back in football, and a lefty who hits 90 mph on the gun for baseball. I will give Coach Echols a player of his choice for the girl’s basketball team too.
HARLEM: I will give Austin Burt a 2,000-yard season next year. That would mean a number of things for the Bulldogs. First, their star player was healthy all year. Next, if he gets a little help from the defense, Harlem will be a tough opponent to deal with. And, finally with 2,000 on the ground, it is likely Harlem made the playoffs and won a game or two.
LAKESIDE: A huge summer for Rashad Roundtree. This sounds like I am leaving out a lot of other players and teams at Lakeside to give one player something. Well, a huge summer for Roundtree is great for him. It would likely mean more than a dozen scholarship offers from major programs. However, he would not be the only beneficiary of a big summer. It would enhance the recruiting prospects of several of his teammates, especially Stephon Houzah and B.J. Raymond.
The team and its opponents would play in front of more college scouts. And, to be honest, it would be fun to see a Columbia County product emerge as a big- time recruit. We have had a few D-I signees, but they have been few and far between. Roundtree could change that next year.
NOW, to all the faculty, staff, coaches, players, parents, siblings and fans that have made 2013 a wonderful year for me covering sports, I want to say thank you. It is truly a blessing to get to do something you love around a lot of people that are like family. Thank you, and may 2014 be even bigger and better.
ALL-COUNTY TEAM OMISSION: I need to apologize for a glaring omission in Sunday’s All-County Team. left off the All-County Kicker and Punter.
Punter: Luke Harmon (Jr. Lakeside) Harmon punted 38 times, averaging 36 yards per punt. He also handled the kicking chores and was a solid wide receiver for LHS.
Kicker: Noah Gilbert (Soph. Grovetown) Gilbert was 16/20 on PAT’s and a perfect three of three on filed goals, including a 34-yarder to beat Greenbrier.