Lakeside High School soccer coach Dave Morgan wants to see the Greenbrier Wolfpack play for a Class AAAA title later this month at the Brierpatch.
It's not that Morgan loves his local rival. There's only one way the Pack would be at home in the finals - if Morgan's Panthers also advance to the championship match.
"Dave and I were talking about that possibility," Greenbrier coach Chip Warren said. "That would be sweet."
The prospect of a Pack-Panthers duel is not farfetched. Heading into the first-round state soccer matches this week, Columbia County already has set a new precedent.
For the first time in county history, every Columbia County public-school soccer team has earned home-field advantage in opening action of the state playoffs. In fact, 2003 marks the only time that all eight county teams qualified for the Georgia High School Association state soccer tournament.
Greenbrier soccer player Zach Ducey (right) runs downfield as teammate Zac Atkinson closes in during a recent soccer practice.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Both of Greenbrier's teams won region titles, and are No. 1 seeds in state. Lakeside's girls and boys placed second in Region 3-AAAA, and are seeded No. 2. Lakeside and Greenbrier are in opposite brackets and could conceivably square off in the finals.
The Wolfpack may have the best shot of going all the way. Greenbrier enters state with a 15-0 record, and a No. 2 ranking in Class AAAA.
"We've been fortunate this season, and we've worked very hard," Warren said. "But all of the teams that make it to this level are very good. We just have to focus on one at a time."
The soccer surge this year is a sign of great things on the pitch, according to Evans Knights coach Brian Killips.
"A Columbia County team will eventually win a state soccer title. It's inevitable," Killips said. "All of our teams have the home field advantage in the first round, so there's a great opportunity for someone to bring home a state championship this year."
The Knights may have the toughest first-round draw this week, but that doesn't bother Killips. He's just happy that Evans is back in the state playoffs for the first time since 1998.
"We won the region and we open with Pope, which is the ninth-ranked team in the state. That says a lot for how strong AAAAA soccer is," Killips said. "We're looking forward to it. Our guys are excited. When we're playing well, we can play with anybody."
Georgia High School Association State Soccer Playoffs
Columbia County schedule
Class AAAA boys: Shaw at Lakeside, 6 p.m.
Class AAAAA boys: Pope at Evans, 7:30 p.m.
Class AAAA boys: Columbus at Greenbrier, 6 p.m.
Class AAA boys: South Effingham at Harlem, 5:30 p.m.
Class AAAAA girls: Roswell at Evans, TBA.
Class AAAA girls: Griffin at Greenbrier, TBA; Columbus at Lakeside, 6 p.m.
Class AAA girls: Liberty County at Harlem, 6 p.m.
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