Of course, both were preceded by Jamie Cassady-coached Griffin High in the 2008 Class AAAA state finals — the same year the Bears had the No. 1 overall pick, Tim Beckham, in the MLB Draft.
Three common threads run through all three programs: Experience, consistent coaching and heart/great chemistry.
All three clubs have/had heavily oriented senior and junior rosters.
It’s also interesting to note Moody and Hanson are each in their eighth season as head coach at their respective schools, while Cassady was in his 14th season as GHS when the Bears made their run which concluded with them losing 7-1 and 5-4 to Loganville at The Bears' Den.
However, experience and consistent coaching will take you only so far. It’s heart and chemistry that have a way of carrying you over, around or through the bumps and hurdles along the road to a state title.
This is where all three teams seem to make a very good pitch for being exactly where they are/were.
Class AAA No. 1 state-ranked Spalding (31-3) has not only set school records for consecutive wins (21) and overall wins (31), but it has also won its fourth region championship in addition to making it to the state finals for the first time in the program’s 11-year history.
In the state playoffs, the Jags have eliminated Perry 10-4 and 15-2; Cross Creek 15-4 and 9-1; and No. 3 state-ranked Cartersville 3-6, 5-2 and 16-9; in addition to No. 8-ranked Woodward Academy 11-10 and 15-14 to reach Monday‘s final-round, best-of-three series against No. 6 state-ranked Columbus (28-8) at Randy Jordan Field.
Class AA No. 2-state ranked Pike County (30-6), meanwhile, has also set a school record for wins (30) while adding to its region championship haul and also advanced to the finals for the first time in school history.
Along the way, the Pirates have eliminated Brantley County 15-0 and 17-5; No. 7-state ranked Cook 12-2 and 9-6; and No. 1 state-ranked Blessed Trinity 4-18, 5-4 and 11-7; in addition to perennial state power Lovett 9-2, 6-7 and 6-1 to reach today’s final-round, best-of-three series against No. 3 state-ranked Buford (29-3) at Gerald McQuaig Field.
Griffin (28-8), of course, also had a banner season in 2008, reaching the state finals for the first time since 1981 in a tradition that has netted state championships in 1958, 1959, 1962 and 1980 as well as another state finalist in 1965.
With that said, it’s time to: “Play ball!”
(Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News).