The first day of August 2011 marked the time when the area high schools' football teams could hit the field for the first practice of the summer in full pads. Now after running steps and doing drills all summer long, each team was able to get more physical in practice.
Both Griffin and Spalding high schools hired new assistant coaches in the summer, with Griffin hiring Chris Vagotis (Offensive Line), Leon Walker (Secondary) and Tripp Busby (Linebackers) and Spalding hiring Ahmand Tinker (Defensive Coordinator), Greg Williams (D-Line) and Grant Myers (Inside Linebackers).
The start of the month was good for Spalding High athletes Dominique Nock and Casey Moody, both rising seniors. Moody made a verbal commitment to play college baseball for the University of Georgia while Nock placed 8th in the long jump and received a Top 10 medal at the 2011 AAU Junior Olympics in New Orleans, posting a leap of 18-5. It was a great time for Nock, who not only bested her tryout long-jump mark in early July, but it completed her full recovery from a severe thigh injury she suffered while running a race in the 2010 Junior Olympics.
Nock wasn’t the only athlete to do well in the 2011 Junior Olympics — young swimmer Martha Hicks, a member of the Griffin Gators swim team, won a gold medal and several other medals in other events in the 11/12 division of the JOs.
On Aug. 3, the Skipstone Academy and Griffin Christian High played a preseason scrimmage game which GCHS won 6-2. Sam Galloway scored a rushing touchdown for Griffin Christian while Colby Polk tackled punter Isaiah Seise in the end zone for a safety.
On Aug. 7, Henry Mabbett Jr. — nearly three months after graduating from Spalding High — won the R.P. Shapard Jr. Griffin City Championship at the Griffin City Golf Course on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff over former high school classmate and golf teammate Davin White (also a 2011 SHS grad). Mabbett Jr. birdied three of the last four holes to force a playoff with White and parred the first hole to get the victory.
The local college, Southern Crescent Technical College, had tryouts for their women’s basketball team on Aug. 10 and several ladies came out to the Taylor Street Middle School gym looking to make the team. Among those who tried out were recent Griffin High graduates Bryoni Coggins (Class of ‘10) and Markenda “Muffin” Lindsey (Class of ‘11). Other local girls who were on the team at this time were Schneatha “Boom” Higgins and Adreama Cook.
Other newsworthy sports happenings in the area in August included:
* Griffin and Spalding played scrimmage football games with different results. The Griffin Bears were whipped 34-0 by Newnan at Memorial Stadium while Spalding rallied from a 7-2 halftime deficit to defeat Pike County 22-7 on the road. Griffin suffered its worst preseason loss in team history. (Aug. 12)
* High school softball kicked its season off this month and the Spalding Lady Jags went 2-3 in the season-opening Diamond Classic. (Aug. 12-13)
* The Griffin Christian girls volleyball team started its season 1-0 with a 3-2 match win over Holy Spirit Prep. (Aug. 15)
* Griffin Christian’s football team was blitzed in its final preseason scrimmage 41-0 by the Heritage School Hawks. The Crusaders of GCHS only suited up 17 players, a problem they would have all season long. (Aug. 19)
* The Spalding boys and girls cross country teams hosted the 9th-annual Jag Invitational without long-time coach Dolores Owen, who missed the meet due to a death in her family. It’s the first meet Owens missed in 39 years. (Aug. 20)
* Spalding sophomore Li Anne Harris places first in the Jag Invitational with a time of 22:12, making a pass on the homestretch to get the win. The Lady Jags finished 4th as a team with 104 points while the Jags finished 3rd with 112. (Aug. 20)
* The Spalding softball team broke an early-season losing streak with an 18-2 throttling of Region 4-AAA opponent Sandy Creek. Olivia West had an RBI-triple, Haedyn Kilgore smashed two doubles and had 3 RBIs and Mallory O’Kelley had 4 RBIs. (Aug. 23)
* The regular season began in football! In private school action, Faith Christian Academy started 1-0 with a 36-13 win over Colonial Hills on the road. Kelveyun Newton scored 3 touchdowns and Corin Jones ran a kickoff for a TD for the Lions of FCA. Unfortunately for Skipstone and Griffin Christian, they were hit with big losses to start their regular seasons. Skipstone lost at home to Appling Christian 42-8 while Flint River smashed GCHS 44-0 in Woodbury, Ga. (Aug. 26)
* In the most competitive football game between crosstown rivals Griffin and Spalding in four years, the Griffin Bears defeated the Jaguars of Spalding High 3-0 in overtime at Memorial Stadium. Both teams made plenty of mistakes in this contest, but they both showed heart, determination and a ton of guts for more than 32 minutes of action. Griffin had a chance to win the game with 3 seconds remaining in regulation, but Spalding’s Chris Dickson blocked Wilkes Hope’s field goal attempt to force overtime. Hope redeemed himself in OT, kicking a 31-yarder in the extra period while Tanner Gaff’s attempt to tie the game again fell short. (Aug. 26)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the eighth in a 12-part series conducted by the Griffin Daily News highlighting the top sports stories of 2011. This will culminate in a top 10 stories list on Dec. 31, 2011.