Back in May of 1990 (its's hard to believe that was 17 years ago) I was a freshman in college. I will never forget making the trip to Dunwoody to watch Evans High School go for a third straight state crown.
It was a little surprising. The Knights had lost GHSA Player of the Year Todd Greene and standout catcher Buddy Holder to graduation in 1989. However, coach Terry Holder had Evans in position to win another title.
The crowd was in a frenzy at Dunwoody as Evans loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Fleet-footed senior shortstop Craig Combs was on third.
I was blown away when Combs raced toward home as Dunwoody's pitcher threw one in the dirt. He stole home with two outs in the bottom of the last inning to win a state championship. What a great thrill.
I remember being happy for my friend that day. The championship was Evans' third straight Class AAAA title. On my drive back to school my friends and I discussed the amazing accomplishment.
Combs, senior outfielder Gene Carter (16 HR and 53 RBI in 1990) and junior Rodney Holder (now Greenbrier's head coach) had been starters for three consecutive state championship teams. I just remember all of my friends were blown away, as was I.
I later learned that Harlem had won three straight state titles from 1978-80, and Terry Holder would repeat his feat at Greenbrier from 1997-99. Greenbrier pitcher Hampton Rowland and outfielder Tony Smith were a part of all three crowns for Greenbrier.
The kids from Harlem, Evans and Greenbrier who achieved this amazing feat etched their names in county lore. The vast majority of high school athletes go their entire careers without the chance to even play for a state title, much less win one. So, to win three straight is incredible.
Now Augusta Christian seniors Josh Whitaker and Taylor Hensley and junior Tyler Bourdo have put their names in the same discussion with those great players of the past.
Augusta Christian head coach Craig Johnson has put the Lions in those lofty discussions as well. After each of his first two titles, Johnson had to replace his top pitcher (Nolan Belcher in 2005 and Josh Sizemore in 2006). However, he somehow managed to guide his team back to the top of the mountain.
Whitaker will undoubtedly go down as one of the top players to ever play in Columbia County. His four-year offensive totals are as good as anyone to play in the CSRA.
Former ACS greats Jordan Belcher and B.J. Hawes were both drafted out of high school, but even they were not a part of three championship teams in a row. Whitaker will almost certainly pick up his second consecutive state player of the year award also - another accomplishment that just does not happen too often. Kennesaw State is getting itself a terrific player.
So everyone on Baston Road should be all smiles. You have had a chance to witness a special piece of sports history. We might be spoiled in Columbia County. Trust me, threepeats are not supposed to happen this often.
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