We asked our local coaches to give us a peek at the upcoming season. We’ve included reports from the coaches who responded to us by our deadline.
Reinhardt University Football
Head Coach Drew Cronic
Coach Cronic is optimistic about Reinhardt’s season, especially with a roster that has 17 fifth-year seniors on the team, a first for the program.
“These are kids who have been here since day one of the football program. They got here in the fall of 2012, red-shirted and are playing their fourth season now. I don’t know if I’ll ever have anything like this again,” he said.
There are six seniors who are fourth-year players and just about as invested as the fifth-year athletes, according to Cronic. “It’s exciting because I feel that the kids are all in and older. They understand how to work and they understand they won’t see results if they don’t do things the right way.”
The Eagles ended the 2015 season ranked No. 10 in the final NAIA Top 25 poll and completed the season as the highest-ranked team in the Mid-South Conference. The 2015 season resulted in a program-best 9-2 record. The Eagles made it to the first round of the NAIA Football Championship Series, but closed out their season with a 37-26 loss in a snowstorm to St. Francis (Ind.), who would go on to be the national semifinalist.
Cronic said the squad has lost some good players, but he’s happy with the signing class coming in and hopes the program will be even stronger this season.
“We have enough talent, we just need to see if the leadership and intangibles fall into place. We sure are working hard at it, and they’re doing a good job,” he said. “I’m blessed to coach them.”
Another statistic that Cronic values can’t be found on the game reports: “As a whole, we had about a 3.0 GPA for the year. I’m most proud of that; it doesn’t happen very often. They are doing a good job academically as well as on the field.”
Cherokee Cross Country
Coach Jennifer Jones
The Cherokee High School cross country program has been growing steadily over the past couple of years. We are gaining new and eager runners of every class, each season. These new runners are adding new life to the program.
The boys’ team has enjoyed a good amount of success the past two years. The boys’ team qualified for state in 2014 for the first time in 12 years and qualified an individual runner in 2015. We have some rebuilding this coming season, but I have no doubt that we will compete at the highest level when it counts. The boys’ team will be led by returning runners Nick Wootton and Jake Jones. I’m looking for Wootton to have a real breakout season. He has been working extremely hard and it’s time for him to step into the spotlight.
The girls’ team is young and expected to have an exciting season. The core of the team is a group of sophomores, juniors and one senior − led by Payton Davis, Sierra Blanton and RaeAnna Starosciak. Blanton had an amazing breakout season as a freshmen. I expect her to continue to grow as an athlete and make a steady rise as a top runner in the county. Davis is looking to close out her career at Cherokee with a bang so no one should count her out. They work extremely hard as a unit and are steadily becoming more and more competitive. I truly believe that these girls will shock the other teams throughout the season.
Meets included in our schedule are: the Battle of Atlanta, the Starr’s Mill Panther XC Meet, the Darlington CC Festival and the Coach Wood Invitational. As always, the highlight of our season is our home meet, the Warpath Invitational, a 42-team in Boling Park. We boast a certified course that is arguably the fastest in Georgia. Warpath will be held on Sept. 17 and we are excited to say that the competition level is as high as ever including teams such as Woodstock, Marist, South Forsyth, West Forsyth, Harrison, and more. Several of these of school were top-10 finishers at the state championships the past few years.
Coach Josh Shaw
Coach Shaw begins his fifth year coaching the Cherokee Warriors. He returns a veteran offensive line that is poised to provide protection for returning quarterback Nolan Donley. Donley looks to connect with returning leading wide receiver Aaron Knowles and explosive playmaker Montrell Washington. A strong sophomore class should complement the veteran offense.
Rising senior linebacker Jack Carroll returns from an all-region 2015 season to lead a hungry Warrior defense. Several underclassmen are poised to take the reins from a large graduating class in the secondary and on the defensive line.
Looking to rebound from a disappointing 4-6 campaign and missing the playoffs in 2015, the Warriors return eight starters on offense and three starters on defense. The spread offense will be experienced and balanced in the both the line and the skill positions. Knowles and Washington are fast and according to the coach will “be major parts of the offensive production in 2016.” The running back position will be led by junior Jared Reed, along with sophomores McKinley Hunter and Garrett Miles. Returning on the offensive line are senior tackles Cameron Graham and Charles Perry, along with senior center Jake Alvey and senior guard Chandler Lanier.
Defensively, the team returns two starters, including 2015 all-region player Jack Carroll. Coach Shaw is looking for a big year from Carroll and returning starters Tyler Rozanske, and Brenden Kenney. With the exception of Kenney at safety, the secondary and defensive front will see new faces, but has the potential to besolid with several underclassmen poised to play. All-region specialist Washington returns to lead on special teams to return kicks. If the team continues to improve and avoid injuries, the 2016 Warriors could make a trip to the state playoffs.
A scrimmage against South Forsyth is 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Cherokee High School and the first game of the season is away at North Cobb on Aug. 19.
Coach Tonya Carlisle
Cherokee softball will return seven starters from the 2015 team that finished ranked No. 9 in AAAAAA, including all-state players Taylor Cates and Alise Hooks. The Warriors will be led by seniors Autumn Bible and Kindell Reeves. Incoming freshmen Hope Jiles and Gracie Mixson will contribute and fill the holes left by graduates Deven Bennett and Macy Martinez. “We are very excited about the 2016 season. The players have worked very hard in all aspects of the game, as well as in the weight room. We feel we will be improved from last season, which was a great year. Our goal for the season is to get to Columbus, Ga. (for the Elite Eight). If you can get there anything can happen,” Head Coach Tonya Carlisle said.
Creekview Grizzlies Softball
Coach Chance Cain
The varsity team lost nine seniors to graduation and a majority of them were starters. Sophomore pitcher Ashton Maloney is expected to lead the Grizzly rotation. Sophomore utility player, 2015 MVP and UNC-Chapel Hill commit, Brianna Stubbs will see time in center field to anchor the outfield. 2014 7AAAAA player of the year and 2015 7AAAAA defensive player of the year, junior Amy Vetula will make a move from second base to shortstop to anchor the infield. Vetula, who has the most varsity experience on the team, will also be a leader outside the lines.
The Lady Grizzly program is deep with young talent this year. There are only three juniors and one senior on the roster. Briana Purves, senior, and the junior trio of Brooke Ramey, Vetula and Anna Belle Tippens will be looked upon to lead the 2016 team to their first state championship in school history. “Purves does a great job setting the tone every practice and game with her team first attitude and her love of the game. She is a true leader and being the lone senior, she will be relied on not only for her softball skills, but also her leadership qualities. Brooke is a kid that is one of the hardest workers in our program and continues to improve her game. Brooke hit the ball well in tryouts and her throwing times and catching skills greatly impressed our coaching staff. She and Emily Wilkie will be sharing duties behind the plate as 2015 all-region player Riley Densmore graduated in May. Tippens is another one of older players that will be looked upon to be a team leader that models our program’s motto of ‘We is greater than me .’” Cain said.
This year Creekview will compete in region 6AAAAAA. The Grizzlies’ opponents will be Sequoyah, River Ridge, Dalton, Allatoona, South Cobb, Harrison, Osborne and Sprayberry. Their first game is a 5:30 p.m. scrimmage Aug. 8 at home against county foe Etowah. The first region game is 5:55 p.m. Aug. 9 at Osborne in Marietta.
Woodstock Cross Country
Coach Kirk Scharich
We are excited to roll out the cross country season. Our boys will be led by five four-year seniors: Austin Bailey, Josh Catt, Josiah Jaqua, Patrick Nolen and Matt Shear. Along with a strong junior class of Jackson Blanchard, Evan Cowart, Dylan Mason, Trevor Melehan, Jacob Rigsby and Nic Trousse, we believe this will be another great year.
Our girls are led by sophomore Brynne Sumner, who was all-state and Cherokee County runner of the year. She will be pushed by sophomore and all-county track runner Anna Burnett. Juniors Hannah Everest, Alexia John and Gwen Setlock along with sophomores Anna Bailey, Carson Lyrberg, Rachel Smith and Alonna Wood will complete a strong varsity squad.
Our focus this fall is on working hard: running, lifting, biking and swimming. We had a 12-week summer program that focused on these activities. If we can continue to work hard and stay healthy, we are certain this will be a very exciting season for our cross country teams.
We kick off the season on Aug. 19 as we host the third annual Battle of the Fairways. With more than 20 schools scheduled to attend this year, it looks to be a competitive meet at Fairways of Canton Golf Club in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood.
Coach Z. Kortney Dempsey
Woodstock softball had a respectable 2015-16 season winning the Region 5AAAAAA title and moving on to the sweet 16 of the postseason. The team has been working hard during the offseason in the weight room, practicing and playing travel ball in the spring and summer months.
The 2015-16 season was a thrilling year for the players and coaches. Multiple players were awarded various accolades. Breanna Roper was awarded first team all-state, first team all-region, and MVP for the Lady Wolverine program. Rising senior Lexi Solorzano received first team all-region for her play in the infield, and Alisha House was named to first team all-region for outfield; Sofia Tunon received first team all-region as a catcher. Laura Bishop was awarded first team all-region pitcher of the year as a freshman.
The Woodstock softball program takes great pride in giving back to the community. The team participated in MUST Ministries packing and delivering lunches. Additionally each player is responsible for completing community hours. Each individual player typically completes more than 50 hours of community service from their freshman to senior years.
Coach Dempsey is looking forward to the upcoming season and welcomes two new assistant coaches. Coach Dempsey is encouraged about the program’s future, “We want to go out and play to win, and never be out hustled.”
Coach Anita Dodd
The Woodstock volleyball players are excited for the season and are working hard to earn another return to the state playoffs. During the summer the team attended a camp at Emory University and a play-day at Kennesaw State University.
Coach Dodd said, “We have a lot of changes to make this year due to last season’s losses and the injury of Cassidy Urode (defensive specialist). We feel that we will be a stronger and more competitive team.” She said players to watch are junior outside hitter Emilee Harris, and libero McKenzie Keeton. New players to watch are senior setter Jordi Nix, and freshmen middles Mackenzie Norris and Nyla Shepherd. “We have a great group of players this year who are working very hard defensively and offensively to become full time players.”
The season will begin with a scrimmage against North Cobb High School at 6 p.m. at Woodstock on Aug. 4 in a 3/5 battle.
Head Coach Brent Budde
The outlook for the Woodstock Wolverines football team is promising due to the return of 16 starters from last year’s team. The Wolverines have eight starters returning on offense and eight on defense. The punter and long snapper on special teams will also return.
Among the returning starters are two quarterbacks, Garrett Bass and Liam Byrne, who both threw for 1,500 yards last year. The receivers return Louis Hall, who was second team all-state in his sophomore season. Hall set the Woodstock receiving record last year with 1,070 yards. Returning along with Hall are juniors Dominic Hewitt and Noah Frith, and senior Ethan Chamberlin.
On the offensive line, the Wolverines have four of five players returning. This experience up front should produce more rushing yards and give the quarterbacks more time to look down field. On defense Woodstock brings back all of the linebackers, who are led by Corey Long, Logan Cox and Cole McBay. Long was Woodstock’s leading tackler last season with more than 100 total tackles. Junior nose guard Latrell Bankston will be applying the pressure to the opponent’s quarterback. Austin Bennett and Tucker Wood return in the defensive secondary. Both had a great 2015 season and are looking to be even better this season. Hall and Hewitt will be seeing time on defense to help fill some holes in the backfield.
Woodstock will be in the newly formed AAAAAAA classification and will play in Region 4. The region schedule has some familiar opponents in it with Etowah, Cherokee, Walton, Lassiter and Roswell. Woodstock’s non-region schedule has some new faces on it; Woodstock will play West Forsyth and North Paulding high schools for the first time. The Wolverines also will play North Forsyth and Kennesaw Mountain high schools along with in-county rival Sequoyah High School.
Coach Helen Lane
“I am extremely honored and proud to be the head cheerleading coach at Woodstock High School,” Coach Lane said. “I am very excited about the upcoming cheerleading season. Our sideline squads are looking forward to supporting our Woodstock Football program and cheering them on as they take their opponents ‘TO THE WOODSHED.’”
The junior varsity sideline squad will be coached by Anna Grantham and the varsity
sideline squad by Lynda Watson. Both squads consist of energetic and enthusiastic student-athletes. The community is invited to cheer with them every week, but especially at homecoming on Oct. 7 against crosstown rival Etowah High School.
The competition program is introducing a new junior varsity competition squad this year. Grantham and Watson will be coaching this team. Along with Robin Kennedy, Lane will coach the varsity competition team. “We are incredibly excited about the talent and drive this exceptional team possesses. We are so lucky to have such a great group of student-athletes that not only demonstrate their strong work ethic on the mat, but also in the classroom.” Lane said. “Our team is driven by our goal to bring home the first region title for Woodstock High School in competitive cheerleading and place in the top six at the state competition.”
The public is invited to support the squad on Oct. 29 at the Trick or Treat Invitational hosted by Woodstock High School. The middle school, junior varsity and varsity competition teams will all be competing that day beginning at 9 a.m.
Head Football Coach
The focus for the 2016 Sequoyah High School Chiefs will be getting back to the playoffs. After missing the playoffs last season for the first time in four years, the team has been working harder than ever. With the change in classification, the 2016 schedule is filled with familiar foes as well as new faces. The Chiefs will open the season at 7:30 p.m. at North Forsyth, followed by matches with local rivals Cherokee, Woodstock, Creekview and River Ridge. The second half of the season will consist of South Cobb, Dalton, 2015 5A state champion Allatoona, Harrison and Sprayberry.
The 2016-17 senior college prospects will be linebacker McGwire Wells, wide receiver Zach Henley, defensive back Xavier Ransby, linebacker Daniel Bennett, running back/receiver Zach Stark, offensive lineman Bobby Hewitt, Dante Moore, defensive back Darius Smith and outside backer Luke Rogers.
Offensively the Chiefs will be led by returning running backs Cameron Gales, Luke Jensen and Stark. At quarterback, the competition is between Wesley Potter and Collier Pecht. On the offensive line, the Chiefs will look to Hewitt, Austin Moore, Noah Sherburn, Preston Shelley and Hunter Maihles, along with Will Martin and Griffin Pizzano. The receiver group is made up with returners Henley, Stark and Patrick Ballance. Also working at receiver will be Emmanuel Jenkins, Cole Jacobs, Jarvis Goolsby and Carson Crowe.
Defensively the Chiefs are led by returning linebacker and member of the 2016 Tribune Super Six Wells. Joining Wells will be Bennett, Justin Lingerfelt and Hakeem Hartford. The front line will be made up of Dante Moore, Austin Moore, Chandler Clark and Hewitt. In the secondary, the Chiefs will have returners Ransby, Rogers and Brooks Morris, as well as Emmanuel Jenkins and Smith.
If the Chiefs continue to work together and develop their team chemistry this season could be filled with a lot of special memories.
Sequoyah Cross Country
Coach James Adams
The Sequoyah cross country team is returning with a great group of runners. The boys’ team is led by senior Dalton Trampnau, who is coming off of an outstanding track season. The boys’ team is also returning with a strong group of upcoming sophomores, who shined as freshmen last year, with Josh Meyers, Aiden Heard, Bradshaw Lathbury and Nick Latizia. Zach Davis is also returning from last year’s varsity team.
The Sequoyah girls’ cross country team is led by Caroline Crum, who is coming off of a great track season. The girls’ team graduated a strong core of runners, including Aleah Johnson who will be running at North Georgia next year and Madison Stout who will be attending the University of Alabama as a student. The team will be returning standout Alyssa Cagle, who placed 16th in the region last year, Kiley Howard and Anna Beth Bedsole.
The team’s first 5k will be on Sept. 3 at the Panthers Invitational, the Cherokee County meet will be on Oct. 8 and the region meet on Oct. 22.
Sequoyah Competitive Cheer
Coach Rachel Ulloa
We are thrilled to announce the return of competitive cheerleading at Sequoyah High School. I am excited to see what our varsity co-ed squad has in store for our Chief nation! Our team is made up of mostly younger talent with exciting futures ahead of them.
The squad will be following the leadership of senior Ashlyn Lummus and juniors Erin Schmidt and Kalin Valone. Lummus and Schmidt have been great leaders, provided encouragement and positivity during past football and basketball cheerleading seasons, and I know they’re going to do great with our competition squad! Valone is not only a gifted athlete, but his motivation and dedication to the sport have made him a welcomed addition to our cheer family.
Of our 10 freshmen, Annelyssa Destin and Christina Downing are two young ladies to keep your eyes on. Destin has blown the coaches away with her high spirit, energy and enthusiasm on the floor. New to the sport, Downing is a talented gymnast and we can’t wait to see how her abilities will translate to the competitive cheer world.
The team is working hard this summer to prepare for practices, which start on Aug. 1. Our schedule has not been solidified yet, but we hope to participate in five competitions this fall. I’m privileged to be working with such a great group of athletes and can’t wait to get the competitive cheer program up and running at Sequoyah High School!
Coach John Edwards
Sequoyah volleyball looks to continue its level of success in 2016. Graduated are the Hartman twins, key players on the program’s three straight state finals appearances that included a championship in 2014. Kelley (state co-player of the year) and Lauren have moved on to play at the University of South Alabama, but there are many remaining Chiefs with experience. Upcoming seniors Marcelle Butler and Allie Tucker are two of the eight returning varsity players that will contribute to Sequoyah’s effort to extend their postseason streak (17 of the last 18 years, including 10 straight). Also returning are all-area selections Deja Goss and Karen Morris, setter Annika Lanning, and defensive specialists Mallory Lawson, Alyssa Giardina and Victoria Ergle.
Despite losing two of their leaders, Coach Edwards is looking forward to what the season brings. “Every year brings new challenges, and this year will be no different. I cannot wait to get started and see who emerges as our new leaders and how we respond to the competition – both at practice and in matches. This group understands that they will not be successful without hard work and being great teammates.”
Sequoyah begins its season by hosting the 25th annual Sequoyah Classic on Aug. 12 and 13.