September 2017 Athlete of the Month

September 2017 Athlete of the Month

Cherokee High School

Brittany Duck, Senior, Cheerleading

Brittany is the daughter of Cheryl and Christopher Duck.  She is a member of the Varsity Sideline and Competition Cheer squads for Cherokee High School.

Brittany plans to study Biomedical Sciences in college while also cheering wherever she ends up.  After college, she plans to attend med school to pursue a career in plastic surgery.  She is a Superintendent Key Scholar recipient, a Scholar Athlete and has received the Cheerleading Leadership Award.  She represents the Senior Class this year as the Senior Class President.

Upon her selection of the CHS Female Athlete of the Month for September, Coach Sharpe had this to say “Brittany is a determined, hardworking student athlete who has stepped up to the plate this year and exhibited great leadership skills.  She is a pleasure to be around and very deserving of this honor.”



Mykal Reed-Hogue, Junior, Cross-Country

Mykal is the son of Tiana and Harold Hogue.  He is a member of the Cross-Country team.  He has participated in Basketball and Track.

Mykal hopes to get an athletic scholarship for Track.  His dream would be to run in the Olympics.   Coach Jennifer Jones had this to say about Mykal’s selection as the CHS Male Athlete of the Month “Mykal is an exceptionally talented runner with a noteworthy work ethic.  He is a shining example to his teammates.  He is driven, motivated, and respectful.  Any coach would be lucky to have him on their team.  There is no doubt in my mind that he will achieve his dreams if he continues to reach for the stars through hard work and dedication.”


Creekview High School

Hanna Siefert, Junior, Volleyball

Hanna is the daughter of Jennifer and Joe Siefert.  She is a member of the Creekview Varsity Volleyball team.

Hanna has been on Varsity Volleyball for two years and has stepped up in leading her teammates. She has been a key player in helping her teammates with skills and their position. She has an eye for the game by analyzing the opponent’s team and motivating/encouraging our team during practice and timeouts. She does this while juggling a rigorous course load and preparing for club volleyball outside of practice.  Hanna’s club team won Nationals this year for their age group.  She plans to play Volleyball in college.



Devin Smades, Senior, Football

Devin is the nephew of Jennifer and Sean Smades.  He is a member of the Varsity Football program for Creekview High School.

Last season Devin played Football at Ballston Spa High School in New York.  He moved to Creekview during the summer and has been a team leader ever since he arrived in the program.  Devin works hard to every practice and has earned the respect of his teammates during just a short time.  The energy and competitive flare the Devin brings to the field everyday has proven that he is a great leader for the program.  Devin hopes to play college football somewhere in the South.

Etowah High School

Emilie Watson, Junior, Softball

Emilie is the daughter Lisa and John Watson.  She is a member of the Etowah Varsity Softball team.

Emilie hopes to attend Georgia Southern for her core classes and then transfer to another bigger college to pursue her dreams of becoming a Veterinarian.   She is a recipient of the Coaches Award, MVP for travel ball, Offensive and Defensive Player of the year and is a Scholar Athlete.

Coach Carter had this to say on Emilie’s selection of September Athlete of the Month “Emilie has been an offensive threat in all games that we have played.  She is a true team player in playing multiple positions through the first couple of games.  She is always willing to do what is necessary to help the team succeed.”


Jake Weitkamp, Senior, Football

Jake is the son of Cheri and Roger Weitkamp.  He is a member of the Varsity Football program at Etowah High School.

Jake plans to attend college after graduation where he hopes to continue his football career.  Jake is a Superintendent’s Key Scholar recipient.  He has represented the Eagles as a member of the All County Defense in 2016, All Region Honorable Mention in 2016, and the 2017 Cherokee County Super Six.  He received the Cherokee County Iron Man and the Lifter of the Year Awards for 2016.

From Coach Svehal on Jake’s selection of the September Athlete of the Month “Jake is a great student who will be a Captain and a returning starter.  I am excited to watch him be a leader on and off the field.”

River Ridge High School

Paige Taylor, Senior, Softball

Paige is the daughter of Kay and Tony Taylor.  She is a member of the Varsity Softball team at River Ridge.

Paige plans to attend Georgia State and play Softball after high school.  She is a 3x All Region player, 2x Golden Glove recipient, a member of an RRHS Elite 8 team, has been selected as the team MVP and was a runner-up in the ASA Nationals in 2017.

When asked his thoughts about Taylor’s selection as the River Ridge Female Athlete of the Month for September, Coach Marinelli said “Paige is a natural leader on and off the softball field.  In the classroom she has a 3.8 GPA and has represented her team well as a 3 time All Region Player.”


Daniel Steele, Freshmen, Cross-Country

Daniel is the son of Linda and Shawn Steele.  He is a member of the Varsity Cross-Country team at River Ridge.

Daniel plans to continue his education while running.  He hopes to one day become an Engineer.   Daniel is proud of his personal record of 19:47 at the Chick-Fil-A 5K.

Coach Hooper acknowledges all the hard work that Daniel put in during pre-season training and congratulates him on his record at the Chick-Fil-A 5K.

Sequoyah High School

Karen Morris, Senior, Volleyball

Karen is the daughter of Lisa and Randy Morris.  She is a member of the Varsity Volleyball team at Sequoyah High School.

Karen plans to attend Gardner Webb to major in Psychology and minor in Visual Arts.  She hopes to also play Volleyball while attending college.  Her recognitions include, being a member of the 2016 Cherokee Tribune and 2016 Ledger-News All County Volleyball Second Teams, a 2015 All County Honorable Mention, a member of the 2015 Runner-Up State Championship team, a member of the 2014 State Championship team, selected as the 2015 Area 7AAAAA All-Area Volleyball First Team, the 2016 Area 6AAAAA All-Area Volleyball First Team and represented the 2016-17  team as Team Captain.  She will be a four-year letter recipient.

“Karen has taken on one of the leadership roles freely, with the understanding of how important being a positive vocal team member is.  Her presence on and off the court can be seen and heard.  Karen is also a teammate that will keep the team focused on what is needed to be accomplished.” – Coach John Edwards


Kameron Schofield, Senior, Cross Country

Kameron is the son of Terri Houff and Kevin Schofield.  He is a member of the Track, Cross-Country and Basketball teams at Sequoyah.

Although Kameron is currently undecided on college, he hopes to run Track and Cross- Country and WIN the 2020 Olympics.   Kameron’s accomplishments while at Sequoyah include being a Sequoyah MVP, a Rising Star, State Champion, All County and All Region for Track and Field.  He has been the Athlete of the Year for Sequoyah.  His academic recognition includes Academic Letter recipient, Scholar Athlete award and a member of the Junior Honor Society.

“On Saturday, Kameron placed 7th in his first ever Cross Country race. He ran 10:38 in the Hoya 2 Mile Invitational.  Kameron led the way for Boys Varsity, placing 2nd overall” Coach James Adams.


Woodstock High School

Laura Bishop, Junior, Fast-Pitch and Slow-Pitch Softball, Basketball

Laura is the daughter of Marla and Robert Bishop.  She is a member of the Varsity Fast-Pitch Softball, the Varsity Slow-Pitch Softball and Basketball teams at Woodstock High School.

Laura hopes to play Softball in college and receive a great education.  She has received the following honors 2015 Pitcher of the Year, 2015 and 2016 All Region 1st Team, 2016 All County First Team, 2015 All State Honorable Mention, and a recipient of the 2016 WHS Softball Academic Award.  Laura was a member of the 2016 Region Championship and Sweet 16 Fast-Pitch Softball team.   She also received the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year Award for WHS.

Laura Bishop is  athlete of the month at Woodstock High School for reasons beyond her athletic achievement. Ms. Bishop is a natural born leader due to her strong work ethic and “can do” attitude. She is always willing to go above and beyond when her teammates are concerned. There is never a hesitation when called upon to lead by example. In addition to her strong moral character, Ms. Bishops excels in the classroom as well as on the field, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. On the field, Laura has been the catalyst for helping to turn this program around. In the circle, she has dominated her opponents recording 37 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched. Her ERA stands at 0.875 with a 3-1 record. I am honored coach  Laura Bishop and look forward to her continued success.


Evan Cowart, Senior, Cross-Country, Football, JV Soccer, Track

Evan is the son of Rhonda and Greg Cowart.  He is a member of the Cross-Country Team, Football and JV Soccer Teams as well as Track.

Evan plans to attend college and major in Engineering or Law.  He was a 2016 State Qualifier for Cross-Country and invited to participate in the Coaches Invitational Meet for Track.  He is a Superintendent Key Scholar recipient, Academic letter achiever and a 3 sport Letterman.

Coach had this to say about Evan’s selection of September Male Athlete of the Month “Evan is one of Woodstock’s best. HE is a leader by example both in the classroom and on the course. Evan is the first to show up for practice at 5:30 a.m. and works very hard every day. He has been a great leader during his senior year and is very positive among his teammates. I enjoy watching Evan because he always gives it his all.”

August 2017 Athletes of the Month

Cherokee HS | Creekview HS | Etowah HS | River Ridge HS | Sequoyah HS | Woodstock HS

Cherokee High School

Britney Cherry, Junior, Volleyball

Britney is the daughter of Jayme and Steve Cherry. She is a member of the Varsity Volleyball team at Cherokee.

Britney was selected as Cherokee’s female Athlete of the Month for her hard work and dedication during the off season this summer.  She is the ideal teammate who works hard every day to make the team better.




Hampton Humphries, Junior, Football

Hampton is the son of Preston Humphries.  He is a member of the Varsity Football team at Cherokee.

Hampton will be the Warriors starting quarterback for the upcoming season.  Head Coach Josh Shaw, had this to say about Hampton “he has worked hard to lead the Warriors this summer on the field and in the weight room.”  He plans to attend college as a musical producer/sound engineer.






Creekview High School

Nyah Hernandez, Sophomore, Cross Country

Nyah is the daughter of Kip Clark and Francisco Hernandez.  She is a member of the Creekview Cross Country team and the Track team.

Nyah was a 3X State Champion in her freshmen year.  She won the 2016 Cross Country State Championships and the 1600m and 3200m at the 2016 Track State Championship.  She has the eighth fastest time in Georgia state history in the 3200m, with a time of 10:38.  Nyah qualified for the New Balance Outdoor Track Nationals and was named the Cherokee County Track athlete of the year as a freshmen.  She was also named the Georgia Track freshmen of the year for the 2017 season.


Eli Daugherty, Sophomore, Wrestling

Eli is the son of Robin and Fred Daugherty.  He is a member of the Wrestling team.

Eli earned State Wrestling Championships in Freestyle and Greco Roman competition.  With these championships, Eli earned the opportunity to represent team Georgia in national competitions.  He traveled to York, PA and competed in the USA Wrestling National Duals.  Eli went 9-7 in that tournament helping team Georgia to an 11th place finish in the Freestyle competition.  In July, he traveled to Fargo, ND for the USA Wrestling Cadet National Championships, there he finished 2-2 in the top 24 in the country.



Etowah High School

Brooke VonSeeger Senior Track and Field, Softball

Brooke is the daughter of Cheryl and Chris VonSeeger.  She is a member of the Track and Field team and the Softball team.

Brooke is the recipient of the Eagle, S.O.A.R., the UGA Certificate of Merit, Academic and Community Service letters.  She is also a 3-year letter Athlete and Scholar Athlete.  She plans to attend the University of Georgia, majoring in Business and Human Communication Services.  Brooke was selected as the Etowah female Athlete of the Month because of her extreme work ethic and willingness to do anything needed to support her teams.


Kevin Jepson, Senior, Football and Baseball



Kevin is the son of Janeen and Mike Jepson. He is a member of the Varsity Football and Baseball teams.

Kevin has lettered in both Football and Baseball.  Kevin was selected as the August Athlete of the Month for his excellent leadership on the field and his great work ethic, especially this summer in the weight room.




River Ridge High School

Lauren Talele, Senior, Volleyball

Lauren is the daughter of Kellie & Tushar Talele.  She is a member of the Varsity Volleyball team.

Lauren is a member of the National Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, BETA Club, and the River Ridge Leadership Crusading Knights.  She is a Superintendent’s Key Scholar and Scholar Athlete.  She has received numerous recognitions including a nomination from the Positive Athlete Georgia Program, Athlete of the Week for Cherokee County, and the Cherokee Tribune All-County Volleyball team.  Lauren has committed to play Volleyball at Georgia College.

Lauren was selected as the River Ridge female Athlete of the Month because of her overall attitude and work ethic.  Volleyball Head Coach, Julie Winfield had the following to say about Lauren “She lives and breathes the game of volleyball year-round.  She is someone the leads by example and expects the best out of her teammates.  Lauren is every coaches dream on and off the court.  She excels in the classroom and makes that her number one priority.  She is a true representation of what a River Ridge Lady Knight is all about.”


Chris Long, Senior, Football and Track

Chris is the son of Rochelle and Mandel Long.  He is a member of the Varsity Football and Track teams.

Although, Chris is undecided in his choice of college, he plans to attend college next fall with hopes to continue playing football.

Chris was selected as the River Ridge male Athlete of the Month because of his tremendous off season.  Coach Wynn says “he has led by example for us all summer.  When asked to learn a new position on the offensive side of the ball, he spent the extra time to further his game.  Chris has always been a good student, but his dedication to getting his GPA and test scores up while also pursing the opportunity to play at the next level deserves to be commended.”


Sequoyah High School

Abby Mangum, Senior, Competition and Sideline Cheer, Tennis

Abby is the daughter of Stacey and Tim Mangum.  She is a member of the Varsity Competition Cheer Team, Sideline Cheer and Tennis teams.

Abby has emerged as a leader for both the Competition and Sideline Cheer programs at Sequoyah this month.  A restructured cheer program at Sequoyah High School has brought new coaches and a new set of expectation to the Varsity Cheerleaders.  Throughout the summer, Abby has been a voice of encouragement and positive energy for her teammates while they work together to build a new program.  SHS would like to thank Abby for exemplifying the type of attitude and work ethic that inspires others.


Cameron Stewart, Senior, Football

Cameron is new to Sequoyah and representing the Chiefs well.

Cameron came to Sequoyah in January and will be participating in his first season on the Sequoyah Football team.  His “team first” attitude and relentless effort have impressed his coaches and teammates this summer.  Moving to a new school and endearing oneself to a tight-knit community can be a challenging task, but Cameron has emerged as a leader for the Chiefs over the course of the summer.  SHS would like to recognize Cameron for his great attitude and ability to lead others even in unfamiliar territory.



Woodstock High School

Emilee Harris, Senior, Volleyball

Emilee is the daughter of Melissa and Sam Harris.   She is a member of the Varsity Volleyball team.

Emilee is a 3-year letter recipient in Volleyball and is the epitome of a dedicated student athlete.  She is a high achiever both in the class as well as on the court.  When she is not practicing with her team, she spends time training in the gym to refine her individual skills.  Emilee is passionate about her sport.  She is a leader and a nurturer.  She leads her team by encouraging them to give their maximum effort and perform at their best.  Emilee’s commitment to her school and her sport make her simply the best of the best.


Andrew Bartolero, Sophomore, Football

Andrew is the son of Stephanie and Jason Bartolero.  He is a member of the Varsity Football team.

Andrew is a talented and hardworking member of the Wolverine Football program.  Andrew’s hard work and commitment to his sport is commendable.  He has demonstrated great attendance and work ethic, as well as a positive attitude throughout the Wolverine Summer Workout Program.  As a rising sophomore, Andrew has stepped up his play and continues to work towards the goal of earning a varsity starting position.  Andrew had a great FCA camp at the University of West Georgia.  The Wolverine Nation is looking forward to watching him grow into an elite player.


Towne Lake archrivals Etowah, Woodstock meet today for sport’s ultimate prize

Category : Etowah HS | Woodstock HS

Alex Resnak 








Gwinnett Daily Post – Karl L. Moore
Woodstock’s march into the Class AAAAAAA state championship series has been bolstered by a strong pitching staff that includes Brant Hurter.

The stakes have never been higher as the Woodstock and Etowah baseball teams prepare to begin the Class AAAAAAA state championship series with a doubleheader tonight in Rome.

Woodstock (26-15) and Etowah (26-16) are each looking for their first state championship, and while the series carries great historical significance for the county, coaches say it is important to stick with what got them there.

“At this stage of the game, you can’t get caught up on who you’re facing or the magnitude of the game,” Etowah coach Greg Robinson said. “You just try to slow it down, play good baseball. Everybody is extremely excited. I just want to keep everyone focused on the game.”

Woodstock got the better of the season series, winning two of three matchups. All three games were decided by eight or more runs.

Both teams have been playing much better since the playoffs began, though, particularly on the mound, setting the stage for what could be a tight, low-scoring series.

“We have a lot in common,” Woodstock coach Jeff Brown said. “We have a lot of faith in our pitching. That’s how it’s been for us all year. They’re the same way, though. They have a few guys who can go out there and compete on the mound every game, so we need to make sure we’re getting the most of our at-bats.”

Both teams come into the series with a trio of starting pitchers who have elevated their performances in the postseason.

For Woodstock, Brant Hurter, Jared Staples and Josiah Siegel have each thrown shutouts during the playoffs, while Ethan Underwood, Nick Torres and Andrew Keene have done the same for Etowah.

“Both teams have had great playoff runs against some outstanding programs,” Robinson said. “I think teams that progress this far have pitched well and taken advantage of opportunities. We know Hurter, Staples and Josiah will pitch well. Hopefully, we can match them on the mound and take advantage of anything they give us.”

Though pitching has been the strength of both teams, both have also shown the potential to put runs on the board.

Led by Drew Waters and Andrew Keene, Etowah has topped 10 runs twice this postseason, while being held under three runs just once.

Woodstock has found an offensive star in catcher Caleb Bartolero, who has hit three home runs in the playoffs to complement the consistency provided by Nolan Tressler, Brennan Milone and Spencer Keefe at the top of the lineup.

“We’ve been swinging the bat pretty well,” Brown said. “Etowah has some guys who can hurt you, so we need to keep it up. I think we’ve settled into a routine over the last four or five weeks, getting used to the playoff schedule.”

With both teams peaking, the series could come down to which team can limit its mistakes the most.

Defense has been a key to both teams’ playoff runs, but playing in a minor league ballpark with the pressure of a state championship can change things. Robinson said whoever handles those changes better will come out on top.

“You try not to create opportunities defensively for the other team,” said Robinson, who led Milton to a state championship in 2004.” We just have to throw strikes and make plays. When runners get on, you have to hold them and take one out at a time. Make the routine play. That’s what it comes down to.”

Creekview leads local contingent in state golf championships

Alex Resnak 








Alex Resnak
Coming off the Area 4AAAAAA team title, Brady Keran and his Creekview teammates will vie for the Class AAAAAA state championship this week in Gainesville.


Championships will be up for grabs this week as the state golf tournament takes place Monday and Tuesday.

Led by the Area 4AAAAAA champion Creekview boys, Cherokee County has a strong group competing, with six teams and two individuals.

The Grizzlies enter the Class AAAAAA state tournament at Gainesville’s Chattahoochee Golf Club red-hot after setting a program record to win the county championship and going even lower to win at the area tournament by 14 strokes.
“Coming into the season, the goal is always to make the state tournament,” Creekview coach Jimmy Thigpen said. “Now that we’re here, it’s hard not to think we can do well. We’ve won eight of our nine tournaments this season. I have a lot of faith in my guys, so I think it’s hard to bet against them at this point.”

Brady Keran will lead Creekview after placing third as an individual last season, but he is far from the only golfer poised for a strong showing.

At the area meet, all six Creekview golfers shot under 80, with Walker Winslette, Brady Thomas and Jack Vajda joining Keran as the four golfers who contributed to the team score.

“Top to bottom, we have a lot of faith in all of our guys,” Thigpen said. “I was looking at it the other day and all 13 of guys are averaging a 78.8 (or better). It’s great to have that depth. If someone doesn’t have their best day, we know we have plenty of other guys who can pick up the slack.”

The Grizzlies will be joined in Gainesville by Sequoyah, who took the final qualifying spot from the Area 4AAAAAA tournament after finishing fifth.

The Chiefs do not have the same expectations as Sequoyah, but Hunter Clay and Thomas Brumbeloe are both set to contend as individuals.

“Our goal was to qualify, and we snuck in,” coach Jon Heath said. “We know we’re probably not quite ready to contend at the top, but I think a top-10 finish is realistic. We have a lot of young guys, so we want them to soak it all up and be ready to make it the expectation.”

The Class AAAAAA girls tournament will also take place in Gainesville, at Chicopee Golf Club, and Creekview has a chance to contend.

Led by Peyton Rich and Anna Frazer, the Lady Grizzlies finished third in the area tournament after winning the county championship. Sequoyah’s Erin Peterson will compete as an individual after shooting an 81 at the area tournament, just two strokes off the lead.

In the Class AAAAAAA boys championship at Chateau Elan’s Legends Course in Braselton, Etowah is among the favorites after finishing just one stroke back of Milton at the Area 3AAAAAAA championship.

The Eagles have an experienced lineup, with Ryan Hines, Caleb Jensen and Caleb Greiner all returning with state championship experience.

Woodstock, which got into the state tournament on an at-large bid, does not bring the same experience, but after shooting 309 to finish sixth in a competitive area, coach Kelly Burke said her team is ready to play even better.

“That was a good score,” Burke said. “It would have been good for second or third in a few other areas. I think we all played well, but a few of the guys came off thinking they could have dropped two or three more shots. If we can get rid of those wasted shots, I think we can do some good things.”

The Wolverines will be led by Garron Terrell, who shot under par at area, and freshman Ben Fey.

Lexi Dawson will represent Etowah as an individual in the Class AAAAAAA girls championship at Chateau Elan’s Woodlands course after finishing fourth in the area with a 76.

Woodstock, which qualified as a team after finishing fifth in the area, will look toward Abby Bolt and Ellie Skeen to build off their past state championship experiences.

Etowah-Woodstock rivalry shifts westward for state championship showdown

Alex Resnak 


Victor Tun
After celebrating their series-clinching wins Thursday, the Woodstock and Etowah baseball teams began to turn their focus toward next week, when the archrivals face off for the Class AAAAAAA state title.


What is usually a battle for Towne Lake bragging rights will take on statewide importance next week when the Etowah and Woodstock baseball teams begin their battle for the Class AAAAAAA state championship.

The series is set to begin Wednesday with a 5 p.m. doubleheader in Rome, after the conclusion of the Class AAAAAA series between Pope and Lee County. If a decisive third game is needed, it would be played the following Saturday.

With the two county rivals facing off, Cherokee County is guaranteed its first boys team championship of any kind since Etowah golf in 2005, and its first baseball championship since Canton High won in 1948.
With the Georgia High School Association choosing to now use neutral sites for the baseball championships, the venue for the games will be State Mutual Stadium, home of the Atlanta Braves’ Class A minor league affiliate.

Playing in a minor league stadium could have some effects.

The bigger adjustment could be for Etowah, whose home field measures 300 feet down the lines, 330 to the gaps and 360 to center field. State Mutual Stadium measures 335 feet to left field, 330 to right and 401 to center.

Etowah coach Greg Robinson called it “the great equalizer.”

“You better have your double cuffs on,” Robinson said. “The gaps are deep. Some balls that wouldn’t be triples will be triples in this park. That’s the main difference. There won’t be any cheap home runs. We play in such a small yard, we’re used to seeing that stuff, but we’ll all be on equal footing there.”

Woodstock has the added benefit of playing on a bigger home field.

The Wolverines’ field measures 330 feet to left and right and 375 to center, and coach Jeff Brown believes his team’s game is well-suited for the minor league park.

“I don’t think it changes anything,” Brown said. “That’s one of our strengths. We rely on pitching and defense mostly. We don’t lean on the long ball very much, so I think our game is pretty well suited for it.”

Perhaps an even bigger discrepancy comes in the coaching matchup.

Robinson is in his ninth season at Etowah. He has been to the state quarterfinals in each of the last three seasons, and he already has a state championship after leading Milton to the title in 2004.

“You want to celebrate getting there, but you have to keep climbing,” he said. “For some people, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I feel blessed to be able to go back. It’s been 13 years. Some guys coach their whole career without a chance. I feel very fortunate to be going back.”

Brown, meanwhile, is in his first season as a head coach, after serving the last four as Woodstock’s pitching coach.

Though he may not have the same experience as his Etowah counterpart, Brown has had no problem leading a Woodstock program that had never before won a playoff series to the finals, and he intends to keep his routines going.

“I was excited for the job, because I knew we had a good group here,” Brown said. “We knew, if we could put everything together, we had a chance to be a special team. We’ve played some good competition, but we’ve been doing what we thought we could and found ways to win.”

Finalists bolster Cherokee County’s baseball reputation

Category : Etowah HS | Woodstock HS









Carlton D. White
While Etowah and Woodstock will be playing for the Class AAAAAAA state title, Scott Bradley, above, had his River Ridge team on the cusp of the Class AAAAAA final.

Cherokee County will cap a banner baseball season this week when Etowah and Woodstock meet in Rome for the Class AAAAAAA state championship.

Though the Eagles and Wolverines are the only teams still playing, ensuring the county’s first baseball state championship since Canton in 1948, the overall success has had an effect on other local teams, too.

One team that greatly improved its reputation this season was River Ridge, which reached the Class AAAAAA semifinals after entering the season without a playoff series win. The Knights, though, could not get past Pope to clinch a finals berth.
“To think where we started, with just freshmen, it’s really cool,” said Scott Bradley, who has led the Knights’ program since its inception. “In eight years, we’ve made huge strides. It’s really exciting. I remember when we first started trying to get sponsors, and people didn’t even know where we were. Now, all kinds of businesses and people in the community are reaching out to us.”

Congratulatory texts and tweets are an indicator that River Ridge has arrived on a state level, but the Knights are not the only team gaining more respect.

Woodstock and Etowah each finished the regular season at 7-9 in Region 4AAAAAAA, and having the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds playing for a state championship only speaks to the strength of the region. Roswell, which finished fifth in region play, qualified for the state tournament as an at-large and forced top-seeded Hillgrove to a third game in the opening round.

“I think it says a lot,” said Cherokee coach Ben Sosebee, whose Warriors finished one game back of Roswell in sixth. “Top to bottom, it has to be one of the strongest regions in the state. Even losing Wheeler and Pope, we still have six good programs. I think it’s starting to shift away from Cobb and Gwinnett counties being the center of Georgia high school baseball.”

Cherokee went 2-1 against Woodstock this season and had a chance to make a final push before being swept by Etowah in the season’s final week.

From the outside, the state finalists’ records may not have indicated where they would eventually end up, but Sosebee said he knew, based on the competition, that both of the Towne Lake neighbors would have a good chance at a deep run.

“I’m not surprised where they are,” Sosebee said. “You look at some of the teams they play, and they had a tough road. Both have what it takes, though. Woodstock has the pitching at the top of its rotation to play with anyone, and Etowah is probably the deepest lineup, 1 through 9, we faced all season.”

The improved play on the field can be attributed to the growth of Cherokee County as a whole.

As more families have moved into the district, the talent pool has grown and results have improved, and it is a trend coaches hope to see continue on the diamond.

“It’s really exciting,” Bradley said. “People are moving in left and right, and we’re seeing more and more talented kids. I think it’s a credit to the teachers and board members in the district. They’ve made it a special place where people want to come. It’s not just baseball players, but it definitely has helped.”

Creekview, Woodstock girls finish in top-10 at state meets

Alex Resnak
May 13, 2017








Nyah Hernandez

The competition proved tough, but the girls teams from Woodstock and Creekview both came away with top-10 finishes at the track and field state championships.

Creekview scored 28 points to finish eighth in the Class AAAAAA championships at Carrollton, with Sequoyah (5) 32nd. On the boys side, Sequoyah (10) was 18th, with Creekview (8) 23rd and River Ridge (5) 30th.

In the Class AAAAAAA championships at Berry College, the Woodstock girls scored 26 points to finish seventh, while Cherokee (8) was 22nd.
Creekview got a boost from freshman Nyah Hernandez, who won state championships in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. Hernandez finished the 1,600 in 5:04.52 and won the 3,200 in 11:06.80, by a margin of more than 16 seconds.

The championships added to the cross country state Hernandez won in the fall. Though much of the competition was the same, she said she knew she would have to bring her best.

“I knew I could do it, but it would be hard,” Hernandez said. “I know the competition with all of the fast girls. I had already run against most of them. I knew they were all getting better from the fall, so I had to run my fastest.”

In the shot put, Creekview’s Taylor Smith (third, 39 feet, 6½ inches) and Savannah Webb (seventh, 35-9½) each placed.

“Almost every girl either scored or finished better than they were seeded,” Creekview coach Travis Pope said. “You can’t really be mad about that. The more kids you have, the more the potential for points. That’s what got us excited for next year. With such a young team, we should send even more next year.”

Creekview only sent two boys to Carrollton, but each scored in a pair of events. Chase Burr finished sixth in the 100 (11.16) and seventh in the long jump (22-1), while Zac Cantrell was seventh in the 800 (1:57.72) and eighth in the 1,600 (4:23.17).

“What they did was great,” Pope said. “They both rose to the occasion. When that happens, you can’t be too upset. Only sending two boys and having quality points in both events is big for the team.”

Sequoyah had a state champion of its own after Kameron Schofield won the 800 (1:54.64) in a tightly contested race.

After qualifying fourth for the final, the junior took more than 3 seconds of his preliminary time to beat the field down the stretch. He won a sprint over the final 100 meters to finish .12 seconds ahead of Allatoona’s Blake Klepper and .18 ahead of Mays’ Alan Johnson.

“I knew winning this race would take some things I’ve never done this season,” he said. “I would need to take 3 or 4 seconds off my time. Deep down, I knew it was all about you effort at the end. I wasn’t sure coming in, but once I was out there, I found the confidence deep down.”

Payton Carroll was the only scorer for Sequoyah’s girls team, finishing fourth in the pole vault (10-6).

Etowah salvages split of semifinal doubleheader in pitching showcase

Category : Etowah HS

Sam Jones
Tribune Sports Correspondent






Mill Creek’s Davis Sharpe (12) jumps over a ground ball against Etowah during Wednesday’s state playoff semi-final game at Mill Creek in Hoschton. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)

HOSCHTON — It took 18 innings, but two stellar performances on the mound from Ethan Underwood and Nick Torres have Etowah one win away from an appearance in the state finals.

After a 1-0 loss an 11-inning opener Wednesday, Etowah responded with a 5-0 win over Mill Creek to force the decisive third game of the Class AAAAAAA semifinal.

Etowah threatened in the first inning of Game 1, but it could not bring home an early run.
Drew Waters doubled off the top of the wall with one out, Andrew Keene drew a walk and Jackson Sisk singled to the left side to the load the bases. Moments later, Waters broke for home on a passed ball, but a quick recovery from the Mill Creek catcher allowed the Hawks to cut Waters down at the plate.

With two outs, and runners now at second and third, Hawks pitcher Christian Rutherford got a key strikeout to end the top half of the inning and escape the early jam.

Etowah could not pick up another hit until the top of the sixth, when Waters once again reached third with one out, and again, Etowah could not bring him in.

Waters opened the inning with a single to right and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. A fly out to left moved Waters to third, but two straight pop outs kept the score even at zero.

While it took Rutherford a moment to settle into the game, Underwood was dealing from the start for Etowah. Underwood allowed only three baserunners through the first seven innings, throwing only 63 pitches in an extremely efficient effort.

With neither team able to get a run across the plate through seven innings, the game headed to extras.

With a new pitcher in for Mill Creek in the top of the ninth, Etowah put runners on the corners with two outs, but it still could not bring in the go-ahead run.

Meanwhile, Underwood continued to dominate from the mound. The righty ended his day after throwing 99 pitches over 10 shutout innings. He allowed just five baserunners.

“I was just trying to make them put it in play,” Underwood said. “Then, from there ,they’ll get themselves out.”

With Underwood out of the game in the bottom of the 11th, Mill Creek finally broke through.

A leadoff walk, followed by a throwing error put runners at second and third with no outs. The Hawks’ fifth hit of the game, a single up the middle from Cameron Turley, brought in Steven Kirk and Mill Creek won the marathon Game 1.

“Underwood pitched good enough to win,” Etowah coach Greg Robinson said. “We just didn’t take advantage when we hadbase runners on.”

Mill Creek opened Game 2 by placing two runners in scoring position with two outs, but Etowah’s Torres induced a ground ball to third to end the scoring chance for the Hawks.

Cherokee County trio take next step in pursuit of state championship

Alex Resnak
May 16, 2017






Woodstock pitcher Josiah Siegel tries to outrun Parkview’s Isaiah Byars to the bag on a play at first in last week’s Game 3. Siegel has thrown one of the five shutouts the Wolverines’ pitching staff has accounted for in the team’s run to the Class AAAAAAA state semifinals.

Gwinnett Daily Post – Karl L. Moore

A 6-mile stretch of road from Eagle Drive to Towne Lake Parkway and Arnold Mill Road will have three baseball teams playing tonight as the state semifinals begin.

In Class AAAAAAA, Woodstock and Etowah advanced to the semifinals after beating Parkview and Brookwood, respectively, while River Ridge advanced past Alexander to reach the Class AAAAAA semifinals.

It marks the first time any Cherokee County baseball team has reached the semifinals since Etowah in 2006, and the first time the county has had multiple teams in the final four.

Things will not get any easier from here, with tough matchups awaiting each team.

Woodstock (23-14) may have the toughest draw in its trip to nationally ranked North Gwinnett (34-2). The Wolverines, however, may have the formula to slow a Bulldog team that has yet to lose this postseason.

“We feel like we can play with anybody in the state on any given day,” coach Jeff Brown said. “Our strengths are pitching and defense. If we can do that, we just need to find a way to get the timely hits when we need them. Now it’s about timely hitting with two outs and runners in scoring position.”

North Gwinnett has 10 players batting .300 or better this season, but Woodstock has one of the few pitching rotations that can match up.

Brant Hurter and Jared Staples have each thrown a pair of shutouts this postseason, while Josiah Siegel got in on the act in his first postseason start with a shutout in the Wolverines’ series clincher against Parkview. In all, Woodstock has five shutouts in seven playoff games.

The bigger problem for the Wolverines could be finding the offense against North Gwinnett pitchers Jake Brace and Cade Heil. Despite that, Brown feels good about the series, as long as the team can take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves.

“Defense is huge this time of year,” Brown said. “Parkview made some errors and gave us some chances. Being able to limit those free bases is huge when you’re on defense. On offense, you have to find a way to take advantage of those. When you have a chance to extend an inning or move a runner, we have to take it.”

Etowah (24-15) will also face a nationally ranked team in Mill Creek (33-6), but coach Greg Robinson said pulling off another upset will require the same formula as the first three series, after the Eagles made the playoffs as a No. 4 seed.

“It’s been a combination of good starting pitching and timely hitting,” Robinson said. “We’ve had a tendency to score first, which is of tremendous importance on the road. It lets you settle in and throw strikes without having to do too much. I would attribute most of it to being ahead.”

Robinson said the exact order of his starting rotation may not be decided until just before game time, though Ethan Anderson, Nick Torres and Andrew Keene will be the starters.

They will be responsible for shutting down a Mill Creek lineup led by Steven Kirk, Jay Pendley, Georgia Tech commit Cameron Turley and Clemson commit Davis Sharpe.

Etowah could cause some problems of its own with a lineup led by Nick Bartosz, Jackson Sisk, Drew Waters and Keene, meaning the difference could be the bottom of the orders.

“In high school baseball, you’ll have three or four really good players on your team,” Robinson said. “Those guys have to play at a high level. We look to those guys at the bottom of the lineup to have successful at-bats to get us back to the guys we expect to carry us. That’s always going to be the difference.”

Keene throws no-hitter, has eight RBIs in series clincher

Category : Etowah HS








David Friedlander
Gwinnett Daily Post
May 6, 2017

LAWRENCEVILLE — Mountain View simply had no answer for the one-man wrecking crew that was Andrew Keene in Game 3 of its second-round Class AAAAAAA state playoff series with Etowah.

The senior right-hander threw a five-inning no-hitter with nine strikeouts and belted two home runs with eight RBIs at the plate to help the Eagles win the series with a 10-0 victory Saturday.

“He was pretty impressive, obviously,” Mountain View coach Jason Johnson said after Keene helped end the Bears’ season at 19-17. “He swung the bat real well, to say the least. And we just couldn’t get anything going offensively. It was just a tough day for us.”

It was a tough day for Mountain View early, as Etowah (22-14) took advantage of two first-inning walks from Bears starter Chase Chaney to jump out on top 1-0 on Keene’s RBI single.

But the junior right-hander managed to avoid further damage in the inning and kept dodging bullets by stranding five baserunners in the next two innings to keep his team in the game despite walking four and hitting three other Etowah batters.

The Bears had chances to score in the early inning as Keene (4-1) battled control issues of his own, walking a batter in each of the first three innings.

But he regained his control every time he needed it, striking out two hitters with courtesy runner Cole Johnston on second following Matthew Lee’s one-out walk in the first, fanning two more after Garrett Spikes’ one-out walk in the second and getting another strikeout with Mason Goolsby representing the tying run on third after his leadoff walk in the third.

“I just needed to pitch over the mound, and I just needed to stay through (the pitch),” Keene said. “Other than that, (the control) just came. I felt good.”

Still, Mountain View felt good about their chances down only one run until Etowah came to bat in the bottom of the fourth.

Connor Bowen drew a one-out walk and went to second when Chaney hit Nick Bartosz, and Drew Waters — one of the nation’s top-rated seniors — drove in a run with a single to extend the Eagles’ lead to 2-0.

Keene then followed by launching a line drive just high enough to catch the gusty wind blowing out towards right that carried the ball over the wall for a three-run homer, giving himself and Etowah valuable breathing room at 5-0.

“It’s like (Etowah) coach (Greg) Robinson says all the time. Hitting is contagious,” Keene said. “It felt like once I hit (the first home run), it kept coming.”

Indeed, while Keene retired the final nine Mountain View batters he faced in order, the Etowah offense kept coming in the bottom of the fifth, when the Eagles cashed in on back-to-back singles by Bryant Madden and Bowen off reliever Dylan Schuble and a throwing error to extend the lead to 6-0.

Another single by Bartosz put runners on second and third with nobody out, prompting the Bears to intentionally walk Waters to load the bases in an attempt to set up a force play at every base.

But Keene confounded that strategy by crushing a pitch into the teeth of the wind for a long grand slam that gave Etowah the walk-off win, and a date at Brookwood in the state quarterfinals beginning Wednesday.

For Johnson, it had him looking optimistically for towards the future, with several key players set to return for the Bears next season.

“A lot of young guys out there for us,” Johnson said. “We’re pretty excited about that. We’re indebted to what our seniors did for us, obviously, and they battled and they led us this year. But it’s pretty exciting to look out there and see six juniors and a freshman out there (in the starting lineup) and knowing we’re going to be around for a little while.”