One of the great allures of sports is that they're so unpredictable.
For that very reason, fans love to speculate about teams and athletes, and that goes double for the sports "experts."
Columbia County News-Times columnist Ashley Brown certainly falls into the category of sports guru.
The host of the A.B.'s Sportsline radio show regularly previews the major prep sports in Columbia County by selecting all-county preseason teams for this paper.
Before we go any further, A.B. was given a heads-up about this column, which will reveal how he fared with his preseason all-county football picks.
A.B. didn't have a problem with his prognostications being put under the microscope, so let's see how his preseason team matched up with his recently released All-Columbia County High School football team for 2003.
The all-county selections, which appeared last Sunday in the News-Times, featured 28 positions. Of the players who made the final squad, 11 also were named on A.B.'s preseason all-county team.
A.B. did pretty well on predicting records of each county team. The actual overall win-loss total for the five teams was 24-28, and A.B.'s guess was a 27-26 combined mark. He correctly chose Evans to go 3-7.
The 11 prep players who lived up to A.B.'s expectations were: Brooks Robinson, Greenbrier quarterback; Cole Rabun, Augusta Christian running back; Eugene Rogers, Greenbrier wide receiver; Rashad Dunn, Greenbrier offensive lineman; Adam McKinney, Augusta Christian punter; C.J. Wiltz, Evans defensive lineman; Sam Jasinski, Lakeside linebacker; Marcus Paschal, Augusta Christian linebacker; Rogers, Greenbrier defensive back; J.C. Jennings, Greenbrier all-around athlete; and, Alex Bragg, Lakeside tight end.
A.B.'s total could be bumped to an even dozen, if you count Harlem's Foster Moore, who was a preseason pick on offensive line, but made the all-county team as a defensive lineman.
When informed of his success rate, A.B. seemed satisfied.
You, the reader, might be unimpressed that A.B. missed the mark 17 times on his preseason selections.
But don't forget the nature of sports, and consider that high-school football players might be the must unpredictable athletes of them all.
To back that argument, look at some of A.B.'s failures.
He chose Tim Camp as the preseason player of the year. Camp did not disappoint during the 2003 season, but his Harlem team struggled to a 2-8 record and placed last in Region 3-AAA.
Rogers emerged as A.B.'s player of the year with his stellar play at several positions for Greenbrier, but it certainly helped his cause that the Pack won seven games and advanced to the Class AAAA state playoffs.
Injuries also hurt A.B.'s final tally.
Bryan Kelly (Evans lineman), Dixon Revell (Lakeside defensive back) and Ricky Crawford (Evans split end) were all tapped for the preseason squad, but they were never healthy enough to reach their potential, and did not make the final all-county team.
Another factor is having unheralded players rising to the occasion.
Lakeside running backs Philip Sadler and Carl Burrow flourished under a new offensive scheme, and posted great numbers to earn a berth on A.B.'s all-county team, despite not being preseason picks.
Richard Flake was expected to be a quarterback in 2003, but the Lakeside senior was switched to defensive back and played well enough to secure all-county honors from A.B.
There also was a surprise at the kicker's slot, where first-year football player Josh Ramp had a leg up on all his county competitors this past season.
Others burst on the scene with solid campaigns in 2003, like Greenbrier linebacker Reggie Rice and Pack lineman Bill King.
This column really isn't meant to defend A.B.'s status a sports expert. He knows his stuff, and isn't scared to make his opinions public.
Here's one last speculation about sports - perhaps the preseason picks inspired some of Columbia County's players to prove A.B. wrong during the 2003 season.
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