ABOUT THE SERIES
This is part two in a six-part summer series recapping the 2005-06 sports year in Columbia County. Each week The Columbia County News-Times will focus on one school's athletic program and its successes and failures during the school year. A full-page photo recap of the school's Athlete Spotlight students can be found on the back of the sports section.
Year in Review
June 28 - Evans
Today - Greenbrier
July 12 - Lakeside
July 19 - Harlem
July 26 - Augusta Christian
August 2 - Augusta Prep
When Wolfpack fans look back on the 2005-06 Greenbrier sports year, a quick recap could be summed up in two words: gradual progression.
The school year started off slow for the athletic program as the Wolfpack football team opened with two consecutive losses and finished with a 4-6 record, missing the state playoffs.
The season's low point came with the news that star tailback Reggie Rice, a senior leader on both the football and basketball teams, was charged with rape in an incident stemming from a late-night party in September. Rice and teammate Shad Harris were later tried and convicted of lesser charges.
The Lady Wolfpack saved the fall season with strong showings in softball, volleyball and cheerleading. Both softball and volleyball teams went farther into the state playoffs than any other Columbia County team, while the boys and girls cross country teams finished fifth and 16th, respectively, in state competition. The competition cheerleading squad brought home a 25th place finish in the state.
The Wolfpack's gradual progression continued into the winter season.
The wrestling team sent five wrestlers to state competition, while the boys basketball team narrowly missed a trip to the state playoffs. Once again, the Lady Wolfpack found the most success by putting together one of the best girls basketball seasons the county's ever seen.
Under the direction of head coach Garrett Black, the Lady Wolfpack fought their way to a 28-4 record including 11 consecutive wins to open the season. With junior guard Michelle Sweic leading the way, Greenbrier reached the Class AAAA Final Four for the first time in school history.
The semifinals appearance set the stage for a spring sports season filled with state tournament appearances. The Greenbrier boys and girls soccer teams both stayed ranked in the Class AAAA top 10 poll through the entire season. The Lady Wolfpack finished with a 14-5-1 record and reached the state tournament's second round.
The boys soccer team started the year winning its first 14 games and reached No. 1 in the state.
The Wolfpack finished the season with a 20-2 record after knocking off St. Pius X in the state quarterfinals and reaching the state semifinals.
The Greenbrier boys and girls tennis teams both qualified for state competition, while the boys track team finished 18th in the state.
No Greenbrier sports team, however, had a better year than the Wolfpack baseball team.
Greenbrier's gradual progression toward success culminated in one of the best baseball seasons in the history of Columbia County. The Wolfpack systematically shut down every opponent thrown their way and finished the regular season with a perfect 21-0 record.
The achievement was the first of many, as the team went on to claim the Region 2-AAAA Tournament Championship and lost only one game en route to a Class AAAA state championship. The state title was the fourth in the school's 10-year existence and came with a 31-1 overall record behind the leadership of pitchers Brandon Cumpton and Nolan Belcher and senior starters Chris "Fud" Johnson, Rich Poythress, Tim Thornhill, Cal Morris and Rafael Parks.
Greenbrier baseball head coach Ed Williams announced his retirement from coaching midway through the season but still saw his team end the year with a combined .374 batting average, 51 home runs and a pitching staff with a 1.28 ERA and 316 strikeouts.
As the progression toward a successful 2005-06 year ended, the Wolfpack program said goodbye not only to Williams, but also to athletic director Micky Derrick.
Derrick, also the head coach of the Wolfpack football team, announced his retirement this year and stepped down after coaching and teaching at the school for 10 years.
While many of the coaches and athletes will be different when a new school year begins in the fall, the 2005-06 season ended the school's first decade of existence and set the mark for continued success in decades to come.
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