Usually around this time of year I like to play Santa and open my gift bag for some of our local coaches, athletes, fans, and sports programs.
My bag is a Christmas Bag, not a Holiday Bag or Winter Season Bag ... no, mine is a Christmas Bag. I've come up with a list of presents I'd like to hand out this holiday (that means Christmas) season.
If you do not get a Christmas wish from me, it does not mean you are on the naughty list. I only have so much space. If you leave me cookies this year, make sure they are sugar-free and the milk is skim. This Santa's New Year's resolution is to lose a few pounds.
First, for Greenbrier's girls basketball team and their head coach Garret Black: For the Lady Pack, I have a state Final Four appearance. A state title would be great, but I can get you only so far; the rest is up to you.
For former Greenbrier star Eric Marshall: I give Eric a speedy and full recovery from his torn ACL. The knee injury brought to a close what appeared to be a monster junior season for the 6-foot-4 guard. Next season, he will be back to claim All-Conference honors in the Southern Conference.
For the Evans football fans: I give this group patience. I realize that your football team struggled this season. There are, however, great things on the horizon. The Knights are loaded with underclassmen, and this team will be state playoff bound in 2007.
For Augusta Christian Schools sophomore standout Nolan Belcher: I give a growth spurt. Please do not take this the wrong way. This is not a shot at Belcher. The 5-foot-7 southpaw has a chance to be one of the all-time greats to pitch in Columbia County. It would, however, be a lot easier to get the attention of Major League and major college scouts if he were a little taller. I did not get to see him pitch last season. Lions fans, mark my words: I will be at opening day this spring to see Belcher and his talented teammates.
For Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis: I would like to give him some big-time talent. That's right - in football and baseball. He has some solid players, but I would like to see what he could do with a couple of major college prospects. To be honest, this wish is probably not fair for Harlem's opponents, but I'm in the giving mood.
For Lakeside and athletic director Randy Hill: I must give something to area sports fans. I would pass along the knowledge that Lakeside, year in and year out, is among the top athletic programs in the state. We (especially me) focus on football, basketball, and baseball so much that we over look how solid the Panthers have been in golf, soccer, cheerleading and just about every other sport.
While I'm talking Lakeside, I'd like to give former Panther Matt Scott the title as Top Freshman in the Peach Belt. The 6-foot-3 guard leads all freshman in the conference in scoring at 11 points per game and is among the nation's (that's right, the nation's) best 3-point shooters. Hopefully he can continue to get in better shape and finish the season strong.
For Greenbrier slugger Rich Poythress: I will give him a healthy senior season; I really do not need to give him anything else. He is quite capable of handling the baseball part himself. He has a chance to establish himself as one of the county's top players of all time. He is that good. If you have not seen him turn on a fastball, get to a game this season. He could be a starter right away at the University of Georgia next season (he could start for most colleges right now).
For Evans basketball coach Kevin Kenny: I will give continued success this season and more fan support. Basketball has never been huge in Columbia County, but this is a pretty solid squad that deserves some attention. They have some really tough region match-ups. Fans, they could use your help.
To the South Carolina Independent School Association: I have a gift as well. I will move Augusta Christian back to the GISA. Since making the jump to the Palmetto State last season, the Lions already boast state crowns in football and baseball and do not appear to be done (especially on the diamond). If I do not give this wish, the rest of the SCISA teams might be playing for second in baseball for a while. But heck, the Georgia schools might not fare much better vs. the Lions.
Now for the readers of The Columbia County News-Times, I have a little something: I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (and keep buying papers - I have a 15-month-old who is going through a lot of diapers).
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