Harlem has had a rough year.
Harlem spring sports have enjoyed early success. Some of the players contributing to that success are Rusty James, baseball (from left); Troy Moore, tennis; Scott Lord, golf; Jamie Nevin, girls soccer; Tyrell Dyson, boys soccer; and Barrett Davis, baseball.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The football, volleyball and basketball teams missed the state playoffs. The softball team lost at sectionals.
The Bulldogs' athletic program had 20 points - the lowest total in the county - in the Georgia Athletic Director's Association Director's Cup standings.
But Harlem has seen a complete turnaround since the spring sports season started.
The school has a legit chance to place five teams into the state playoffs, and a sixth team could have an individual shot at competition for a state crown.
Harlem baseball has always been thought of as one of the best programs in the state. The Bulldogs have won six state championships and have been a perennial contender in their region.
But coach Jimmie Lewis thought this could be a year that the baseball team might struggle.
"I just don't know how much pitching we have," he said.
"We had a scrimmage the other day, and I swear it didn't look like any of them could pitch the ball."
Matt Lewis, Felix Chinea and Matt Morris have come through this year as pitchers for Harlem, which has lost only once since starting the season with a 1-4 record.
"We have a pretty good team," Lewis said after he beat Lakeside early in the season. "Maybe I was being too hard on our pitchers. There is some talent there."
Shortstop Rusty James and catcher Barrett Davis have led the offensive attack for the Bulldogs. James was hitting near .500 for much of the season, and Davis came up with big hit after big hit during the Bulldogs' win streak.
Although the Harlem baseball program is renowned for its success, the soccer program has become one of the state's fastest-rising programs.
The girls team has essentially picked up where it left off last season when it was ranked No. 2 in the state.
The Lady Bulldogs (12-2) haven't lost since March 7, and the two losses have come to No. 4 Greenbrier and Evans.
"They have such a strong team," Evans coach Carter Morris said. "They do so many things well and are tough to beat."
The Harlem boys (9-4-1) have lost only one region game - to No. 7 Academy of Richmond County - and seem to have momentum heading into the playoffs.
The girls team is bolstered by powerful goal scorers in Jamie Nevin, Mallory Morgan, Allie Wilmoth and Elissa Botts, while the boys have Tyrell Dyson and Brett Nevin.
Harlem tennis doesn't have the tradition the baseball or soccer programs have, but both teams could do damage come playoff time.
Troy Moore has led the boys team this year in posting an undefeated record, with the girls losing only one game this season, according to coach Stephanie Arrington. The girls are led by Kelly Cheesborough.
While the tennis teams are good bets to make playoff runs, the golf team could struggle trying to make a playoff run.
But Scott Lord won't struggle.
Lord, a sophomore, is the Bulldogs' top golfer, posting a 37.5 scoring average.
Golf coach Kim Chambers said he feels Lord is a golfer with Division-I potential.
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