Lakeside High School's 2006-07 sports year won't soon be forgotten.
The Panther golf team once again claimed a state championship, and the boys tennis team continued the longest display of dominance in the county by winning its 19th consecutive region title.
Overshadowing a state championship repeat and another region tennis title, the Lakeside athletic department saw the Randy Hill era come to an end.
In his five years as athletics director at Lakeside, Hill built a sports program that included the addition of five new teams. The athletic department beat out all other area Class AAAA schools in the 2005-06 Dodge Director's Cup standings because of a program with dominating tennis and golf squads.
In the beginning of the 2006-07 year, the volleyball and softball teams also piled on victory after victory and both reached the Class AAAA state playoffs.
The exception to the success, however, came on the football field. Hill's squad suffered through another losing season in the fall, and a 2-8 overall record in 2006 added to a Lakeside losing span in which the team won only 11 games in five years.
The losing trend on the football field prompted a demand for change from some Panther parents, and Lakeside principal Jeff Carney announced in January that Hill would not return as athletics director and head football coach.
While Carney and a committee made up of parents, coaches and administrators searched for Hill's replacement, the Lakeside basketball teams struggled through the winter. First-year boys basketball coach Ryan Morningstar began a long road to turning around the program while Lakeside girls basketball coach Moe McCormack did the same in her second year as head coach.
The wrestling team found the most success in the winter season, and junior Kyle Tau led the way. The 189-pound wrestler won the Region 3-AAAA championship and five other Panthers also qualified for state competition.
The Lakeside swim team left all other area teams in their wake with a third-place finish at state and another local championship.
The spring brought new life to the Panther program with tennis and golf back in the headlines. Jay Gilstrap, in his final season as head coach for the boys golf team, led a young squad of Panther golfers to a second consecutive state championship. Sophomore Brian Carter earned low medalist honors at the state tournament for the second year in a row.
The Lakeside boys and girls tennis teams spent another spring dominating local competition. The Panthers won their 19th straight region title, and the Lady Panthers also took home the region trophy. Both teams reached the state quarterfinals.
The boys and girls soccer teams had strong years. The Lady Panthers finished at 13-6 and fell to eventual state champion Whitewater in the first round of the state tournament. The boys wrapped up the year with an 8-8-3 record.
In baseball, Lakeside put together a solid regular-season campaign by sweeping region opponent Evans and finishing in second place in the subregion standings. The Panthers took an early exit in postseason play with a first-round loss to Effingham County in the Region 3-AAAA Tournament.
In March, a thorough search for a new athletics director came to an end. Jody Grooms, a football coach and assistant principal in Wadesboro, N.C., was named as the 2007-08 athletics director and head football coach.
With Grooms' invite, Hill decided to remain at Lakeside and continue to serve as the wrestling head coach, oversee the newly formed lacrosse programs and take on the role of assistant football coach.
As the 2006-07 sports year came to a close, it became obvious that the next sports year would be vastly different. While Grooms' hire was the most well-known coaching change in Columbia County, it wasn't the only one at Lakeside. The 2007-08 school year will see at least four new head coaches take over teams at Lakeside, including Grooms (football), Christine Gisler (softball), Danielle Gonzalez (volleyball) and Bill Richey (golf).
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.