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Lakeside High School year in review

Lost coin flip left Lakeside hoops at home

Posted: Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Each week during the summer, The Columbia County News-Times will highlight a different high school with its five biggest stories from the previous school year.

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This week's focus is on Lakeside.

The Panthers' year will be remembered for a number of changes within the athletic department.

Lakeside will begin its 2008-09 campaign with a new athletic director, baseball coach and wrestling coach. Panthers football coach Jody Grooms will sit out the first two games of the 2008 season after being suspended for running an illegal play last year. The play call also led to his removal as athletic director, a position that was filled in May by longtime Panthers coach Jon Johnson.

Among Johnson's first tasks was to begin a search for a wrestling coach to replace Randy Hill, who left to coach at East Jackson Comprehensive High School. And on the baseball field, the Panthers will be led by T.J. Davis, who replaced Jay Matthews.

Matthews resigned following the 2008 season to take the head baseball job at Riverside Middle School.

Not all Lakeside's newsworthy events involved personnel moves. Matthews' baseball team became the first county team to beat Greenbrier since 2005. The boys basketball team came within a coin flip of completing a turnaround season with a trip to the region playoffs. And Panthers track and field athletes made a name for themselves at the state level.

The following are the five biggest stories from the Panthers' year.

Panthers beat 'Pack first time since 2005

By Stephen Fastenau

April 9, 2008

Jake Wood's favorite memory hadn't yet been recorded when Lakeside High School's senior baseball players were honored before their final home game.

In the appropriate space on the sheet read when his name was called, Wood had simply written he hoped to beat Greenbrier on Senior Night.

Wish granted.

"I always knew we had the players to do it," said Wood, a Panthers catcher, after the team beat the Wolfpack 5-2. "We just came through. We gave our hearts."

The win was Lakeside's first against Greenbrier since 2005, when it swept both regular-season games.

Coach will keep post, must pay fine

By Billy Byler

December 2, 2007

Columbia County schools Superintendent Charles Nagle announced the final punishment for Lakeside football coach Jody Grooms last week.

Grooms will lose his athletic director position but will remain as head coach of the football team in 2008.

"Part of the people wanted to save him, and part of the people wanted him out," Nagle said. "Without full termination, this is about as strict as you can get."

Grooms will also be suspended for the first two games of the 2008 season and must cover the cost of a $250 fine that the Georgia High School Association placed on Lakeside High School.

Lakeside staff nearly complete

By Stephen Fastenau

June 1, 2008

The only item left on Lakeside High School's staffing agenda this summer is to find a wrestling coach.

The school filled two athletic openings last week, naming Jon Johnson the Panthers' next athletic director and T.J. Davis the next baseball coach.

Johnson's contract doesn't start until July 1, but he went to work Tuesday, meeting with coaches and ensuring each sport was in order.

"There's a lot going on," Johnson said. "It's kind of hit the ground running and make sure we got people driving the buses and who's going to coach and what sports and how they're doing that.

"We'll talk to some of the coaches and try to get our participation up and give our kids the best opportunity to go out there and be successful."

Coach Randy Hill to leave Lakeside

By Stephen Fastenau

April 2, 2008

Randy Hill's Lakeside High years soon will end.

The Panthers coach will leave after the end of the school year for East Jackson High School in Commerce, Ga.

Hill handed in his resignation to interim athletic director Tim Reeve on March 21.

"Coaches always look out for something to further their career," Reeve said. "Every year, coaches just look, they look and say, 'All right, what else is available out there? Is this something that interests me?' Obviously, this was something he was interested in."

Reeve said Hill's teaching position would not be filled, but he added that the school will begin a search for a new wrestling coach.

Hill will join East Jackson as assistant football coach, head wrestling coach and head girls soccer coach.

Lakeside boys lose playoff berth on coin toss

By Stephen Fastenau

Feb. 13, 2008

Cue the celebration. Lakeside High School's boys basketball team is in the playoffs.

That was the scene immediately following the Panthers' 61-56 overtime win against Evans on Friday.

It wasn't until later, when the players had showered and most of the fans filed out, that the celebration was learned to be premature.

Region 3-AAAA secretary Wayne Baker, who is also the assistant principal at Evans High School, flipped a coin to determine whether Lakeside or Greenbrier would earn the fourth and final seed for the Region 3-AAAA Tournament.

Panthers coach Ryan Morningstar called tails.

As it turned out, the coin rebelled.

Greenbrier is in the playoffs. Lakeside is not.

"It's sad," Morningstar said. "We play the way we're playing, and it feels like you get punished."



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