The Eagles took an important step toward that goal Monday when they qualified for the Class AAAAAA state tournament after finishing third in the sectional at Brookfield Country Club in Roswell.
Etowah last qualified for the state tournament three years ago.
“I’m very proud of the team’s effort,” Dutko said. “Our team’s goal was to go in there and qualify for state. We finished third out of all the teams that were represented there and that shows we have a very strong team. We are definitely excited to be there.”
Etowah received helped from a couple of different players who stepped up when the usual low scorers went high for the round. Jake Forbes, a senior and fourth-year player, came up big with an even-par 72. Jake Haggerty, who carded a 69 at the Region 5AAAAAA tournament, came through once again, this time with a 76.
“A couple of our players, who normally shot low shot high,” Dutko said. “But golf is a team game and we are always there to pick each other up. We are definitely excited to get down there for state.”
The sectional in Roswell was originally scheduled for May 6, but it was postponed a week after heavy rain flooded portions of the course. Now, Etowah and the rest of the sectional qualifiers will have a quick turnaround before next Monday’s state tournament at Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton.
None of the current Etowah players have played the course before, but that will soon change. The team is traveling down Saturday and hopes to get rounds in that afternoon and again Sunday before teeing off for the state championship Monday morning.
The Eagles will practice like usual this week, at Eagle Watch Golf Club in Towne Lake and Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw. From what Dutko has heard, the greens at Pinetree should prepare his players a bit for the course in Tifton, but the Eagles don’t need to worry much about hills, as the course in south Georgia is rather flat.
“We will be prepared and ready to go for Monday,” Dutko said. “Now that we are definitely going down there, we want to finish strong. A top-three finish would be nice, but it would also be nice to bring the state championship back to Etowah.”
If the Eagles are to win a state title, they will face some familiar competition, including region rival Milton, last year’s Class AAAAA champion. Also in the state tournament from Region 5AAAAAA are Lassiter and region champion Roswell.
“All of us coaches think that our region is the best in the state as far as golf is concerned,” Dutko said. “It will be nice to back that up. Everyone from our region, who could qualify did. It just shows how strong we really are.”