Gavin Field reaches 1,000 points for UWG
For the first time since 1991, the University of West Georgia men's basketball team had a player eclipse the 1,000-point mark for his career when Gavin Field netted the accomplishment on Jan. 28 during the Wolves' 65-47 victory over North Alabama in Florence.
Field came to Carrollton as part of coach Michael Cooney’s first recruiting class. The UWG assistant turned head coach took the 6-foot-7 Australian sight unseen and when the skinny sharp-shooter got off the plane, Cooney had his reservations — until he saw him play. During his four years at UWG, the Wolves improved from seven to 13 to 15 to 22 wins and earned an NCAA Tournament bid in his final year.
Harris and Lee showcase skills
From a walk-on to a scholarship player to snapping the game-winning field goal in the BCS Championship game, the ride for Josh Harris at Auburn was a wild one, and it wasn’t done yet.
Harris got one more chance to don the navy and orange in the 2012 Senior Bowl as a chance to showcase his skills once again to possible NFL suitors. The Carrollton graduate was the No. 1-rated long-snapper and was coached on the South squad by Washington Redskins and two-time NFL champion coach Mike Shanahan.
While Harris was in Mobile, Ala., fellow 2007 Carrollton graduate Ryan Lee was in California in the inaugural AstroTruf National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl. Lee capped off his career at Furman after starting 27 of his 39 games played, participating in more than 1,600 snaps and started all 11 games his senior year.
J.B. Stephens scores 1,000 points at Bowdon
Throughout his career, he battled high expectations and some injuries, but on Jan. 13 Bowdon’s J.B. Stephens passed the 1,000-point mark in a game at Trion.
Other than six games at the beginning of his freshman year, when Stephens was healthy, he was in the starting lineup. Even though the achievement happened on the road in the middle of a three-game trip, the Red Devil was honored at home and given a basketball with his name, years played and 1,000+ career points.
When National Signing Day came along on Feb. 1, it was a special day for 18 local athletes who signed scholarships to continue their careers at the collegiate level.
Carrollton led the way with eight athletes, seven in football — six went to play at the Division I level. Telvin Brown (Jacksonville State University), Josh Barge (Jacksonville State University), Aaron Brown (Charleston Southern University), Jonathan Jones (Auburn University), Zach Gordon (Wake Forest University), D.J. Johnson (United States Air Force Academy) and Carlos Hutton (Carson-Newman College). CHS soccer goalkeeper Dylan Hobert signed with American University.
Central followed up with five athletes, as Patrick Gamble (Georgia Tech), James Phillips (Lenoir-Rhyne University), Ray Hodges (Reinhardt University), Steven Person (University of West Georgia) and David Kilgore (University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky) all signed football scholarships, while baseball standout John Harman (Darton College) and soccer star Ashlynn Deese (University of West Georgia) were also moving on to the next level.
Temple’s DeiJon Tyler and Joseph Flores signed with Point, while Bowdon’s Maricio “Poo Poo” Askew signed with Georgia Military College on football scholarships.
Central baseball wins Shiver’s debut
The month of February was good to the Central High School baseball team and first-year coach Wes Shiver. The Lions won Shiver’s debut — 14-1 in five innings — and went on to go 4-0 in the month by a combined score of 54-11.
Bremen wins fourth state title; Lujan and Adcock shine for Carrollton
The Blue Devils’ state dual title streak was snapped in January, but on Feb. 14 the Bremen wrestling team took home its fourth straight Class A state traditional championship, as five individuals picked up titles, as well.
Senior Zach Young won a school-record third state championship at 120 pounds, while Brock Cooper (126), Cory Morgan (132), Kannon Madden (145) and Joe Bexley (hvy.) also brought home the first-place hardware for Bremen. For Young, it marked a school-record third individual state title during his illustrious Blue Devil career.
Carrollton also had a pair of individual title winners, as the Trojans placed third in Class AAA.
Jake Adcock won at 120 pounds, while Taylor Lujan won the 145-pound title. The pair went 60-1 and 59-0, respectively, with Adcock’s loss coming on a controversial decision in the state sectional tournament the week before the state championships.
UWG men earn NCAA bid
For the first time since 2005, the UWG men’s basketball team played in the NCAA Division II Tournament in March. The Wolves were picked as the No. 3 seed out of the South Region and headed off to Huntsville, Ala., ready to dance.
In the 2011-12 season, UWG won 22 games, including a win in the quarterfinals of the Gulf South Conference Tournament.
Along with the NCAA appearance, UWG forward Da’Ron Sims was selected as an honorable mention member of the 2012 Division II Bulletin All-America Team to go along with his First Team All-South honors from the NABC and CoSida. He also earned a spot in Reese’s Division II College All-Star Game in Kentucky.
Carrollton boys reach state quarterfinals for second year in a row
After some tough first-round luck for a few years, the Carrollton boys' basketball team made its second straight trip to the Class AAA state quarterfinals in 2012.
As Region 6-AAA champions, the Trojans knocked off first-round opponent Grady by 13 points before dispatching North Hall by nine in the second round. Unfortunately, Carrollton ran up against juggernaut Columbia in Dalton, as the Blue Devils went on to win yet another state title this March.
Mt. Zion hosts first-ever track meet
On March 27, the first- ever event was held at Mt. Zion’s new, on-campus stadium as the track team held the Mt. Zion Eagle Invitational following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
In a fitting fashion, it was the Lady Eagles who took home the girls title with a dominating performance, scoring 183 team points — 79 more than the second-place team. For the boys, Bowdon took home the first team title, outlasting Temple by two points for the top spot.
Lee & Harris sign
A pair of Carrollton standouts didn’t have their names called on draft day, but the NFL ultimately did come calling shortly after, as Ryan Lee and Josh Harris were both signed to undrafted free-agent contracts shortly following the conclusion of the draft on April 28.
Lee, a 2007 CHS graduate and Furman alum, was called up by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Harris, also a 2007 CHS grad and a member of the Auburn national championship team, it was a closer call that came from the Atlanta Falcons. Lee was signed to the practice squad with the Steelers and later signed with New Orleans, while Harris went on to win the starting long snapping job with the Falcons.
Needham, Fazio lead Carrollton golf
The Lady Trojan golf team finished just eight strokes off the lead in Class AAA, placing second in the state tournament on May 7.
Sydney Needham led Carrollton with an 82, followed by Elizabeth Curvino’s 92, while Mary Kate Groninger shot an 18-hole season-best 95 and Haley Hernandez shot 106.
On the boys' side, Nick Fazio was the only Trojan represented and his 74 was just off the pace of low-medalist honors.
Villa Rica baseball enjoys postseason trip
The last time the Villa Rica baseball team had reached the playoffs was 2000, but that all changed in 2012.
The Wildcats overcame a daunting Region 5-AAAA schedule to earn themselves the No. 4 seed and reach the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
While VR didn’t make it out of the first round, they gave the two-time defending state champions, Marist, a run for its money. The Wildcats took Game 1, 4-3, in a nine-inning affair before dropping the second game, 9-2, and the third, 11-5.
Carrollton baseball returns to quarterfinals
After being a regular in the state quarterfinals and beyond in the early 2000s, the Carrollton baseball team returned in 2012.
The Trojans swept Riverwood at home in the first round before traveling to take the 2-1 series at Spalding in the second round. Unfortunately, Gainesville would be too much for Carrollton in the quarterfinals, but the ride was an incredible one.
In the second round, the Trojans dropped the first game and battled back from a 6-2 deficit to take the game, 7-6. The third and deciding game had just as much drama, as Carrollton’s Davis Marlar was able to get out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam with just a one-run lead to send Carrollton into the round of eight.
The season marked the final one for Trojan skipper Craig George, who stepped down after 11 years, earning his 200th win at Carrollton this spring.
Wood caps career in style
Hannah Wood was no longer a secret heading to Albany for the GHSA Girls State Track and Field Championships, but in 2012 she delivered once again for Mt. Zion.
The senior sprinter captured titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes — her second and third consecutive, respectively. Overall, her senior year effort gave Wood eight total state titles, with three 400-meter relay championships to go with her success in the sprints.
Throughout the 2012 season, the Carrollton boys' track team traveled all over the Southeast to face some of the top prep track and field competition in the country, and that all paid off in Jefferson as the Trojans picked up their third consecutive GHSA Boys State Track and Field Championship.
Led by hurdler Jonathan Jones, who won the 110- and 300-meter hurdles along with the long jump, the Trojans topped the podium again. Jones scored 32 individual points at the meet for high-point honors in Class AAA.
It was the 27th overall state title for the Trojans and the first time they had won three straight in 28 years.
Carrollton boys' soccer one game away
The Trojans found themselves one win away from an appearance in the Class AAA state soccer championship for the second time in four years when they traveled to face Woodward Academy on May 15.
In fact, Carrollton was in control of the game for most of it, 2-1 for the final 14 minutes of the first half, and most of the second half. Woodward scored the tying goal with 16:48 left and would add the game-winner in extra time.
Carrollton picked up a 2-1 win against Grady in the first round before knocking off Spalding, 4-0, and Dalton, 2-1, to reach the state semifinals.
Eric ‘a Blue’ Jay
Eric Jay Phillips was a standout for Carrollton during his prep baseball days and he continued that success at Georgia Southern when he helped lead the team to the NCAA Tournament during his junior campaign.
On June 5, Phillips’ name was called in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball Draft as the No. 205 overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Women’s Match bids adieu to Sunset Hills
On June 15, the Annual Georgia Women’s Match Play Championship said farewell to Sunset Hills, as Laura Coble won her ninth title in 15 years.
In the tournament, Carrollton High School’s Sydney Needham reached the quarterfinal round, while Joyce Doss of Carrollton reached the round of eight in the Tournament Flight and Buchanan’s Nicole Wood suffered a first-round setback to the No. 1 seed in the Championship Flight.
The tournament will now rotate sites after being held exclusively in Carrollton.
Crowder called in second round
The first NBA stint was a short one for former Villa Rica standout Jae Crowder who’s name was called as the 34th overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, which then immediately sent him to the Dallas Mavericks as part of a draft-day deal.
After leaving VR, Crowder had success winning a NJCAA National Championship at Howard College (Texas), helped lead Marquette to back-to-back Sweet 16 trips in the NCAA Tournament and was named Big East Player of the Year his senior year.
Crowder then made the trip to Las Vegas, where he played for the Mavs during the summer league and impressed coach Rick Carlisle and ended up making Dallas’ opening-day roster. Through 28 games this season, which includes eight starts, Crowder is averaging 6.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 steal per contest.
LaShanti flies on National stage
To say LaShanti Williams excelled on the track this summer might be an understatement.
The Carrollton Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department track and field standout placed second in the 9-10 girls 200-meter dash, turning in a time of 29.16 seconds at the 2012 Hershey’s Track and Field Games, following her state championship in the event earlier in the summer.
Williams did earn a national championship in the long jump, jumping a personal-best 15 feet, 1.25 inches at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic National Championships in Baltimore.
In just the second year of being back on the map, the Carrollton volleyball team turned some heads in 2012.
The Lady Trojans made the playoffs for the second straight year, but in the first trip to the Class AAAA playoffs, Carrollton enjoyed some success.
The postseason started with the Lady Trojans hosting their first-ever playoff round, as they swept Redan, 3-0, in the first round. Carrollton then traveled to South Effingham and won in five sets to reach the championship portion of the bracket. In that round, the Lady Trojans ended up falling, 3-0, against the eventual champion Sandy Creek.
High school football at UWG
The first time high school football has been played at the University of West Georgia’s University Stadium was a complete success, as the West Georgia Football Classic on Aug. 25 hosted a pair of thrilling gridiron affairs.
The opening game displayed Bremen storming back from a 21-0 deficit against Alexander to come away with the 35-28 win after scoring 35 unanswered points.
The late game followed the same suit, as Haralson County was unable to hold onto a 20-0 lead of its own against Central, with the Lions roaring back to score all 35 of their points in the second half for the 35-20 victory.
The same four teams will compete again next year.
West Georgia XC hosts historic meet
It took over 20 years in between, but on Sept. 22 West Georgia hosted another cross country meet.
The UWG Wolves Cross Country Invitational brought 10 teams in from Division I, II and III levels, with Kennesaw State taking the men’s title and Georgia State winning the women’s 5K.
Dan Moffit was the top UWG men’s runner, taking 11th with a 25-minute, 12-second run, while Tiffany Wommack finished 13th in the women’s side with a run of 19:04.
Columbus was invaded by local teams as Central, Mt. Zion and Bremen all made it to the championship portion of the GHSA state softball tournament as one of the final eight teams left in each classification.
For Central, it was a season in which the team, led by senior Alison Jiles, won the Region 4-AAA regular-season championship, the region tournament and ended up placing third in Class AAA. Jiles was region player of the year, as well as making the all-state team and finishing as the runner-up for the Class AAA Player of the Year. Pitcher Taylor Funk was also named all-state. Jiles was also voted as the Times-Georgian Most Valuable Player.
Mt. Zion navigated its way through the new power ranking system and a Region 6-A that had more teams make the tournament than anywhere else in the state, as the Lady Eagles took third place in the Class A public portion of the tournament. Veteran MZ coach Millie Grimes was selected as the Times-Georgian Coach of the Year for her efforts.
Bremen’s season came to a close one day before the final day of the season with a fourth-place finish in Class AA with a final record of 25-9.
MZ football wins sub-region
Keith Holloway orchestrated a historic turnaround for the Mt. Zion football program in 2012. The first-year coach took a team that went 0-20 in its last two years and made it competitive again. The Eagles won its first game since 2012 in convincing fashion with a 40-7 dismantling of North Cobb Christian. After four games, MZ was 1-3 with the three losses coming by a combined nine points with a pair of one-point losses. From there, the Eagles ripped off five straight wins, upsetting two-time region champions Darlington, as well as Trion.
The season culminated with an 18-13 win against Gordon Lee that gave MZ the Region 6A-A sub-region title. Unfortunately, the Eagles dropped their region play-in game to Mt. Paran and the new Class A public school power rankings didn’t do them any favors, as the 6-4 season wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.
Debut for local hardcourt coaches
Five local basketball coaches made their debuts this season on the hardcourt.
For Bowdon, it was an entirely new regime with Antonio Smith taking over the boys' program and Remonica Stephens becoming the new girls' coach this season. At Central, Darius Smiley made the move from assistant football coach to head boys' basketball coach, while Joey Marinelli took over the Mt. Zion boys' team after serving as an assistant to Steve Lee the past two seasons. For the fifth coach, it was a homecoming, of sorts, as James Bailey took the reins of the Villa Rica girls' team after playing on the last VR state championship football team in 1986 and being a boys' assistant coach for the past few years.
Carrollton five-OT marathon
When two historic football programs met up in the second round of the Class AAAA state football playoffs this year, Carrollton and Marist did not disappoint on Nov. 23.
On a cold night in Atlanta, the two teams couldn’t decide a winner through four quarters — or four overtimes for that matter. It ended up taking five overtimes for Marist, the No. 2 team in the state at the time, to come out with the 43-37 win.
The two teams played to a Marist 13-10 lead at halftime, with Carrollton adding the tying field goal. With nine seconds left in regulation, the Trojans had a chance to win, but the field goal attempt was blocked and the overtimes began.
The two teams matched each other touchdown for touchdown, field goal for field goal and two-point try for two-point try up until the very end. Marist got the ball first, scored, but the two-point try failed. That ended up not mattering as a fourth down pass fell to the turf, ending the game and the Trojans' season after an epic battle.
West Georgia Tech announces football
The West Georgia Tech Athletic Department just keeps growing. The Golden Knights started men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, added baseball softball two seasons ago. On Dec. 13, WGTC President Dr. Skip Sullivan and Athletic Director Walter Dunson announced the addition of a football program.
The Golden Knights will hit the gridiron in 2014, with Dunson slated as the inaugural head coach.
Falleur leaves VR
After two seasons at Villa Rica and 26 years away from his alma mater, Mike Falleur returned to Northside High School in Fort Smith, Ark., on Dec. 28.
Falleur had a 10-10 record leading the Wildcat football team and has a career record of 152-80 as a head coach.