Each week during the summer, The Columbia County News-Times will highlight a different high school with a look back at its five biggest stories from the previous school year.
This week's focus is on Lakeside.
When asked to assess the state of Lakeside's athletic program, incoming athletic director Donnie Burch pointed to the results of the Georgia Athletic Directors Association Cup. The competition awards points for each sports' finish, both boys and girls, to gauge the overall strength of a school's year.
Lakeside finished third overall in Class AAAA.
Both Panthers tennis teams reached the state semifinals. Both soccer teams, the baseball team and boys cross country team reached the state quarterfinals and the girls cross country team finished fifth.
Of those finishes, the baseball team's run probably was most memorable. First-year coach T.J. Davis and a crop of seniors led the Panthers to their first region title since 1996.
Lakeside continued to roll in the state playoffs, sweeping the first two rounds before falling at Marist in the quarterfinals.
Here is a look back at five of the biggest stories from the Panthers' year.
Picture perfect ending for baseball team
April 30, 2009
After a whirlwind year, T.J. Davis and the Lakeside baseball team were finally able to relax.
The Panthers coach let his guard down long enough to be doused with ice after his team beat Josey 15-0 to clinch the Region 3-AAAA title.
"They tricked me into taking pictures," Davis said by phone Wednesday night. "All the coaches were in on it, too."
Davis knew after beating Harlem on Saturday and after some intense number-crunching, that his team held the tiebreaker over Westside should it have come to that.
Harlem beat Westside 13-8 on Wednesday to deny the Patriots the second seed and a home Class AAAA playoff series. Evans earned the No. 2 seed and the right to play host by owning the tiebreaker over both Harlem and Westside.
The only drama left for Lakeside's senior night, then, was to see whether it could shut out Josey, a team it beat 25-0 the first meeting.
After the win, the Panthers were announced to their home fans as region champions and posed, and plotted, for pictures.
At this time last year, the Panthers weren't sure who their coach would be this season.
They knew they had a strong core of returning players, but not who would lead them.
Davis was named coach after Gerald Barnes turned the job down. The first-year coach directed praise to his players.
"Really, we're fortunate," Davis said. "We had a lot of returners who came back, and guys who knew what was expected."
Lakeside teams rank among best in state
March 5, 2009
When Lakeside took to the water at the state swimming and diving championships, the Panthers were out to prove that they were not only the area's top swim team, but also one of the top swim teams in Georgia.
The boys earned a third-place finish -- tops among public schools -- and the girls finished ninth.
"I was really impressed," Lakeside coach Andrew Bauer said. "You could tell some of them were nervous, but they put it aside and got up there. It really is intimidating when you see two maroon swimsuits and six of another color."
Senior Eric Chiu, who has committed to swim at Georgia Tech, capped his high school career by winning state titles in the 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke. He was also the second leg for the second-place Panthers in the 200-yard medley relay, an event won by Westminster (Atlanta). Charlie Johnson, Jimmy Meixiong and Taylor Capers were also part of the Panthers relay team.
"He has set the bar. In my opinion, every male swimmer that walks through the door henceforth will be trying to live up to what Eric did," Bauer said. "He's an exceptional swimmer and, more importantly, he's an exceptional kid."
Freshman Katherine Huff took the 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke on the girls side. In the backstroke finals, she finished nearly two seconds ahead of the second-place swimmer, Emily Kintz, of St. Pius X.
"I really didn't think I was going to do as well as I did at the meet," Huff said. "To do what I did and to do it in my first year, it was really cool."
Tough foe awaits Panthers
May 5, 2009
Lakeside's boys and girls tennis teams and coaches knew the path they would probably take as soon as the Class AAAA playoff brackets were released.
Before the first of the Panthers' quarterfinal matches was complete Monday, conversation turned to Marist.
The boys beat Ola 5-0, and the girls beat the rain to beat Ware County 3-0.
Marist awaits both teams in Friday's semifinals at Clayton County International Park. The War Eagles are No. 1 in the latest boys and girls coaches polls.
"It's going to be the hardest match we'll play," said Andrew Dromsky, who won his No. 2 singles match 6-2, 6-2. "Pretty much, that will be like the unofficial state final."
Lakeside players and coaches worked to dry the courts before the boys match began. They were able to finish all five points before the rain started.
The girls matches were delayed by the wet courts after Lakeside's Kay Barksdale and Alex Cadle won their singles matches to make it 2-0. After a wait, with the skies not cooperating, one court was dry enough to allow the Panthers to finish their No. 2 doubles win and earn the third and deciding point.
Lakeside High standout settles in
Jan. 11, 2009
Kyle Tudor commanded the position of honor in Lakeside High School's auditorium Monday, dressed in the purple and gold of East Carolina University for the first football signing party of the year.
But National Signing Day was still a month away, and Tudor's signing was only symbolic. He moved in at the Greenville, N.C., school Friday and will be eligible to participate in spring workouts.
The Lakeside senior verbally committed to play for the Pirates during the summer before his final season. He was wise to lock in with coach Skip Holtz's team early.
Tudor, who tallied 109 tackles as a junior, missed five games of his final high-school season with a knee injury and was limited during most of the games in which he appeared.
Tudor suffered a sprained MCL and LCL in his knee during week 3 against Glenn Hills. He returned to see limited action during a loss to Richmond Academy and re-injured the knee the following week against Cross Creek.
"Luckily, I had played good my junior year, which is what got me the scholarship," Tudor said. "But it was real disappointing. It was like the worst thing I've ever done in my life."
Lakeside's new AD gets top program
June 7, 2009
Donnie Burch knows Lakeside High School's academic reputation might always trump its athletic programs.
No problem there.
But the longtime Panthers coach, who will take over as the school's athletic director effective July 1, is inheriting a program that quietly was among the top athletic programs in Class AAAA for the 2008-2009 school year.
The Panthers' teams, both boys and girls, combined to finish third overall in the Georgia Athletic Directors Association Dodge Directors Cup.
The cup awards points for how each team finishes on the state level. Lakeside was topped only by first-place Marist and Starr's Mill.
"I guess people wouldn't probably come in here and think about that or notice that," Burch said. "But that's a very fair, impartial system."
...The Panthers were buoyed by the boys swim team's third-place finish at state, both tennis teams reaching the state semifinals, a fifth-place finish from girls cross country and quarterfinal appearances by both soccer teams, the baseball team and boys cross country.
"There's not a region title for every sport here, but as far as advancing through region and state, we did pretty good," Burch said.
Burch was named AD after interviewing with Lakeside principal Jeff Carney and assistant principal Tim Reeve.
Burch becomes the fourth athletic director Lakeside has had in the past 18 months. He takes over for Jon Johnson, who was AD the past school year.
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