Last season, the Grizzlies had a number of firsts, including their first undefeated team record, first county title and first region title. They also advanced to the Class AAAAA state tournament, where they finished eighth.
Despite losing Jared O’Kelley, who is now playing at Cincinnati, Creekview coach Jimmy Thigpen still has high expectations.
Looking to lead the Grizzlies’ repeat efforts are seniors Austin Currie and Marshall Richards, juniors Kip Denison and Jonathan Moyer and freshman Brady Keran.
Sequoyah will look to dethrone Creekview as the region champion, led by seniors Ryan Koprowski and Lex Lauletta, as well as sophomores Ben Wallick and Brandon Bouthilette. Lauletta, who also quarterbacked the Chiefs’ football team, will be moving on next fall to Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where he will play both football and golf.
Sequoyah coach Curtis Williams said his players are looking forward to advancing beyond the region tournament.
In Region 7AAAA, River Ridge will field an experienced team, which coach Mark Markley has high expectations for.
Brennan Thomas, Andrew Markley, Jake Moody and Austin Mitchell are all seniors who have been with the team since they were in eighth grade. They will be joined by fellow senior Scott Bryan, who is new to the team this year, but also expected to contribute.
In Region 5AAAAAA, Etowah, Woodstock, and Cherokee will battle for one of four berths to the state sectionals in the region tournament at the end of the season.
Last season, Etowah finished eighth at the state championships. This season, coach Phil Dutko believes that experience will greatly help his returning players’ confidence.
Returning for the Eagles are juniors Nick Budd and Jake Haggerty. Budd tied for second in last year’s tournament, while Haggerty was the runner-up in the region tournament.
Seniors Josh Colley and Phil Strickland, and junior Cole Kirkpatrick will also look to contribute this season for Etowah.
Dutko has confidence knowing he has players who can turn in low scores.
“We would like to finish in the top three this season,” Dutko said. “We want to win county championship, finish in the top four at region championships, and qualify for the state championship in Augusta.”
Woodstock and Cherokee may not have as high of expectations, but both programs want to be competitive nevertheless.
Kelly Burke has a young team on her hands at Woodstock, but likes what she has seen so far. She’s taken over for Brent Budde, who previously doubled as the school’s football and boys golf coach.
“Our team is made up of two seniors, two juniors and a host of underclassman,” Burke said. “I am pleased with the dedication and effort at each practice and look forward to our upcoming season.”
The top players for the Wolverines are expected to be senior Will Bird and sophomores Kevin Burns and Alex Burgess.
Woodstock hasn’t qualified for the state tournament since 2008, but Burke isn’t going rule it out as a possibility.
Hoping to finish in the middle of the pack in Region 5AAAAAA will be Cherokee. Senior Aaron Powell, junior Eric Peterson and sophomore Noah Powell are being looked at to shoot low for the Warriors this season.
The only time all six of the county’s teams will meet is in the 36-hole county tournament, which will begin March 25 at the Fairways of Canton. The top three teams from the first round will advance to the final round two days later.