Greenbrier High School southpaw Nolan Belcher got plenty of attention locally this season. Statewide, he was a hot topic on the high school message boards throughout the Wolfpack's state championship run.
The attention was well deserved. He had arguably the best year of any pitcher to ever toe a rubber in the area. His 15-0 record and 156 strikeouts will not soon be forgotten.
Now Belcher will get a little national attention. He will be featured in this week's Sports Illustrated "Faces in the Crowd" section. This page of the magazine focuses on outstanding accomplishments of amateur athletes. Sports Illustrated is the most widely distributed sports magazine on the planet, so Belcher's incredible numbers this year will be seen by hundreds of thousands of sports fans across the country.
Johnson enjoying solid season
Former Greenbrier star and three-time All-County performer J.J. Johnson is off to a hot second-half start for the Clearwater Threshers. The Threshers are the Single A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and lead their Division with a 14-9 second-half record.
Johnson, a sixth-round draft pick of the Daytona Beach Cubs in 2000, has come back nicely after a couple of subpar seasons in 2002 and 2003. After Johnson burst into pro baseball by hitting .317 with seven homers and 61 RBI in 2001 for the Boise Hawks, he struggled the next two seasons. He hit a combined .240 with only five home runs.
The lack of power surprised many in the Cubs camp. He did bounce back in 2004, hitting .282 with six homers and 62 RBI. His number improved even more last season as he blasted 10 homers and drove in 56 runs. He also led the Daytona Beach Cubs with 29 doubles.
In the off-season, Johnson was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was assigned to Clearwater and is playing well for the Threshers. The 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound rightfielder is hitting only .261, but he does have seven long balls, 16 doubles, and 35 RBI.
It appears that his power numbers are improving each year. If he continues to play well, the 24-year-old could one day find himself playing in the National League East. His second half got started with a bang as he lead Clearwater to a 7-3 victory over the Lakeland Tigers in the Threshers' first game after the All-Star Break. Johnson singled, tripled, homered and drove in five runs in that win.
Georgia Southern to have local flavor this fall
With new head football coach Brian Van Gorder at the helm, Georgia Southern University will open the offense this year. That is terrific news for a couple of former Columbia County standouts.
Former Harlem Bulldog Tim Camp has been penciled in as a starter at wide receiver. The 6-foot, 206-pound sophomore will get an opportunity to showcase his abilities in a new passing offense. Camp could be a player to watch on the Eagles this season.
Former Evans High School and Lincoln County quarterback Travis Clark transferred to Georgia Southern. Clark, who spent two seasons at Southern Miss, is No. 2 on the depth chart at quarterback. He is a sophomore, having red-shirted his first season with Southern Miss. Clark is competing with Zach Stanford for the starting job.
When the offense struggles, Greenbrier product Daniel Jordan will get a chance to play. The 6-foot-4-inch, 212 pounder will once again be the Eagles' starting punter. Jordan , a junior, also will serve as the holder for field goal and extra point attempts.
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