First there was the Griffin High football team's most improbable 9-3 run during what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. The team's prospects looked bleak when the Steve DeVoursney-coached Bears suffered their worst preseason defeat in more than a decade, losing 34-0 at home to Newnan. Things didn't go much better in the next game when crosstown rival Spalding High took Griffin scoreless into overtime where the Bears eventually gutted out 3-0 victory in the season opener.
Including the Spalding game, Griffin somehow managed to win its first three games — despite only outscoring its opponents by a combined margin of 5 points — before losing its first two subregion games to put itself in a hole early into its subregion schedule. Then the run started as Griffin won its next six in a row, the highlights of which were victories over Whitewater 23-22, in a crossover region playoff game to increase the school-record string of consecutive state playoff appearances to 11 seasons, and Jonesboro 47-43, to advance to the second round of the state playoffs for a school-record fourth year in a row.
That's where the joy ride ended for the Bears, 46-0, at No. 1-state ranked and eventual state champion Tucker on a night in late November as fall gave way to winter and the action turned from the gridiron to the hardwood.
Throughout the regular season the team to watch on the hardwood was Mic Savage-coached Griffin Christian which finished first in the GISA Region 2-AAA standings. The co-No. 3-state ranked Crusaders headed to the region tournament in Macon the prohibitive favorite to win the region title. So it came as a huge shock when they were upset and then, to add insult to injury, lost the consolation game to head to the GISA Class AAA state tournament a four-seed.
However, it seemed to make little difference once the Crusaders got rolling as they dispatched of co-No. 3-state ranked Deerfield-Windsor 63-46, Westminster-Augusta 60-38 and Mount de Sales — the same team that first upset them in the region tournament — 56-54 to reach the state finals for the first time in school history where they lost 71-46 to No. 1-state ranked Bethesda as winter gave way to spring and the sports, once again, headed outdoors.
Highlighting the spring season were an ICSGA state championship by the Faith Christian Academy golf team and a state semifinal run by the Spalding High boys tennis team in the GHSA Class AAA state playoffs.
The Bob Chappel-coached Faith Christian Academy golf team headed to the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama Athletic Association state championship match in Logansville, Ga., the prohibitive favorites after finishing third in 2009 and runner-up in 2010 and 2011.
With a lineup full of seniors, the pressure was on. The Lions, which finished runner-up by 16 strokes in 2010 and 23 strokes in 2011, didn't disappoint this time, shooting a 339 to win the title by 13 strokes.
A few days earlier, the Greg Crawford-coached boys tennis team at Spalding High claimed its first and only other region championship since 2006 on the afternoon of April 19 by defeating Sandy Creek 3-1 in the Region 4-AAA finals at the Gerald A. Matthews complex in Lovejoy, Ga. It touched off a run that saw the newly-crowned region champions defeat Thomson 5-0, Howard 4-0 and Westside-Augusta 4-1 to reach the state semifinals where they lost 3-0 to No. 2-state ranked North Springs.
The Spalding boys tennis team not only won its second region championship in school history and first since 2006, it also far eclipsed any of its predecessors by going at least four rounds deep into the state playoffs — well ahead of the team’s previous best run of two rounds set in 2002 and matched in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
That's amazing when you consider the Jags return all their players next season.
Overall, spring belonged to Spalding High, once again, as it mopped up in region competition, winning four team championships — boys tennis, baseball, boys golf and girls track — and five individual region titles.
This year's run started with the aforementioned boys tennis championship and continued a few hours later when the Mickey Moody-coached Spalding High baseball team put the finishing touches on its second region championship in a row and fifth overall — 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011 being the others — to win back-to-back titles for the first time in the team's 12-year history.
Not to be outdone, 48 hour later the Dolores Owen-coached Spalding High girls track and field team scored 134 1/2 points in the Region 4-AAA championship at Sandy Creek High School, in Tyrone, Ga., to also win back-to-back region championships. Paving the way for Spalding was high-point winner Dominique Nock. Individual event region champions included Nock with a run of 12.21 in the 100-meter dash, freshman Chadneeshia Arnold with a throw of 120-05 in the discus and Mary Owen Howell with a height of 7-0 in the pole vault.
No teams were in action on Sunday, but 48 hours after the track team celebrated the Rusty Hudson-coached boys golf team won the region championship for the third year in a row and for a school-record sixth time overall to celebrate at Canongate at Heron Bay in Locust Grove, Ga. The Jags fought off winds of 30-35 mph to shoot a 316 to top their nearest competitor in the seven-team field by 48 strokes. It was the Jaguars largest margin of victory ever at region, easily eclipsing the team's 36-stroke victory in the 2005 region championship at the Griffin country Club.
Paving the way was low medalist Jake Harpe with a 2-over 74. By winning the sophomore joined former Jags Corey Dinkins (2005), Brett Upson (2006) and Henry Mabbett (2008, 2010 and 2011) as region champs. Not to be outdone, Spalding High's lone entry in the girls Region 4-AAA championship, Emma Johnston, cared a 99 which was good enough to finish low medalist also at Canongate at Heron Bay on the same day to become the Lady Jags first individual region champion since Caitlyn Cook in 2005.
The Spalding High boys golf team continued its prowess at state earlier this month as freshman Tye Waller shot 1-under 71 and junior Carson Willis shot even-par 72 Monday to lead the Spalding High golf team to its greatest finish ever — third place — in the Class AAA state championship at Augusta Country Club.
Led by Waller, who finished runner-up in the individual standings three strokes off the pace set by low medalist Parks Brown of state champion Gainesville, and Willis, who finished in sole possession of third place in the 103-player field, Spalding matched last year’s school state tournament record stroke total of 302.
The Spalding High girls track and field team also had third-place finishes at the state meet earlier his month in Albany, Ga., from senior Dominique Nock in the long jump (17-7 1/4) and 100-meter (12.1) and 200-meter dashes (25.1).