With 2001 done, I've decided to look into the future of Columbia County sports. There are several athletes who are relatively unheralded today but seem destined to one day become top prep performers.
The following is a list of Columbia County high schools and the underclassmen who fans should keep an eye on in 2002 and beyond.
Travis Clark (sophomore). Clark had some on-the-job training on the gridiron in 2001. While he occasionally struggled, he showed tremendous poise and big potential. Clark should eventually play collegiately in baseball or football - possibly both.
Others to watch: Tanis Maynor (junior, football), Ben Stapleton (sophomore, football), Brad Freeman (freshman, football and baseball), and John Harris (junior, basketball).
Scott Wandless (sophomore). As a linebacker for the Wolfpack last season, Wandless played in the shadow of his older brother, Nick. Expect Scott to have a breakout junior season in 2002. If Scott gets as big physically as Nick, the sky's the limit.
Others to watch: Brooks Robinson (sophomore, football and baseball), Eric Marshall (junior, basketball), Ben Tankersley (junior, football and baseball), and Eric Taylor (freshman, basketball).
Steven Rogers (junior, football and basketball). The Panthers lost several key football players to graduation, but Rogers should still have a great senior season. With a big fall football campaign, he could approach 150 career receptions. Rogers also is an exciting basketball player, but at this point he looks like a Division I recruit in football.
Others to watch: Matt Scott (sophomore, basketball), Klay Koester (junior, football), and Chang Ho (freshman, football).
Kelvin Sturgis (junior, football and baseball). Sturgis is a terrific two-way football player with a nose for the ball. Every time the Bulldogs needed some magic last season, he delivered. He already is being scouted by several colleges, including Vanderbilt University.
Others to watch: Tae Dorsey (junior, football and track), Josh Wilmoth (junior, football), and John Rickerson (freshman, baseball).
Jordan Belcher (junior, basketball and baseball). There have been rumors in the last two years that Belcher was transferring to Greenbrier. So far he's still at AC, where he is a well-balanced basketball player and also one of the best baseball players in the area.
Others to watch: Cole Rabun (sophomore, football), Sam Pitts (sophomore, football), and Trey Pitts (junior, football).
Abby Alexander (freshman, cross country, basketball, track). The list wouldn't be complete without a rising star for the girls, and Alexander fits the bill. Between now and her senior season, expect four years of excellence in three sports.
Others to watch: Kyle Arrington (junior, basketball) and Carey Gibson (freshman, tennis).
As you can see, the future is in good hands. Columbia County takes pride in its athletes, and these standouts, plus many others, should keep college recruiters visiting our county for years to come.
Ashley Brown's radio program can be heard from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday on News-Talk Sports 1630 AM. His e-mail address is AB@WRDWAM.com.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.