Along the way Rainey also won the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row in addition to being named All-American by numerous publications and websites including 2nd team All-American by SI.com and the Walter Camp Foundation, 3rd team All-America by the Associated Press and 3rd team All-American by Yahoo! Sports in addition to 4th team All-American by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview.
Oh, forgot to mention Rainey ranked second nationally — only to Oregon’s LaMichael James — in average yards rushing per game (141.2 — James had 149.64) in addition to leading the nation in carries (369) for the second year in a row.
For that Rainey, the 2005 and 2006 Griffin Daily News Player of the Year, was the Griffin Daily News year ending top 10 story of the year for the second year in a row.
Other top stories included:
No. 2,GRIFFIN HIGH RIFLE TEAM/CROSS WIN STATE:
The Griffin High rifle team won the team’s first state title ever, eclipsing state runner-up finishes in 1992 and 2003. Team co-captain Jay Cross shot a pair of 10’s on the last two shoots to help deliver the title. Later in the day Cross went on to win the individual state championship, joining Heather Hayes as the school’s only other Gold Medalist.
No. 3, SPALDING HIGH BASEBALL IN FINALS:
The Spalding High baseball team advanced to the state finals for the first time ever. Spalding High (32-5) had a 21-game win streak snapped, 7-3, in the regular season finale against Troup County before going sweeping Perry (10-4 and 15-2) and Cross Creek (15-4 and 9-1) to advance to the state quarterfinals where they rallied after losing the opener 6-3 to Cartersville to win 5-2 and 16-9 to reach the state semifinals for only the second time in the school’s 10-year history.
In the semifinals, Spalding hit the road for the first time in the playoffs to take on Woodward Academy which it outslugged 11-10 and 15-14 to reach the state finals for the first time ever.
There Spalding traveled to faced perennial state power Columbus — a team that had been to the state finals eight times in the last nine years, including its third final in a row. Spalding made quite an impression in Game 1, getting up 18-0 at one point while SHS’s ace pitcher Casey Moody carried a 1-hitter into the bottom of the sixth and final inning of the game.
The Blue Devils, however, rallied to win Game 2 by a 12-2 county to force Game 3 in the best-of-three series. There both teams traded big blows early in the game, before Spalding — leading 9-8 — ran out of pitching in the fourth inning and lost 18-9 in six innings.
No. 4, WESLEY’S BACK-TO-BACK STATE TITLES:
Spalding High senior Jenna Wesley went after the state record in the 800-meter and came home, instead, with back-to-back state championships in a race with controversy.
“Wesley was out in the lead when the girl from Columbus (illegally) pushed out of the pack behind her,” said Spalding High head coach Dolores Owen. “Then the girl from Columbus cut in front of Jenna.”
The sudden moved threw Wesley, the defending Class AAA state champion, out of rhythm.
“She was supposed to give her three feet — she didn’t,” added Owen of a second illegality.
The Columbus runner was eventually disqualified because of the infractions.
Not that it mattered, Wesley collected herself with 80 meters to go and outran her to the finish line anyway.
“She out kicked her to the finish line,” Owen said. “I’m just glad she won it outright and repeated. There are few people, anywhere, who can say they are two-time state champs.”
However, gone was Wesley’s shot at the state record (2:12). She ended, posting a 2:16.21 — comfortably ahead of Cedar Grove’s Karla Pryor (2:19.56) in second-place.
Wesley ran a school-record 2:15.11 the year before to win state.
No. 5, SHS ARGO SMASHES STATE RECORD:
Spalding High freshman Abbie Argo smashed the state record in the shot put for adapted athletes in the Handicap Wheelchair Division with a throw of 19-6, well ahead of the old record of 17-1.
NO. 6, MABBETT RALLIES TO WIN CITY TITLE, SET RECORD:
Henry Mabbett Jr. birdied three of the final four holes Sunday to force a playoff where he parred the first hole to defeat former Spalding High teammate Davin White for the R.P. Shapard Jr., Griffin City Championship.
“I just knew I had to make some birdies coming in to have a chance,” said Mabbett, who went from trailing White by one to trailing him by three when he mishit a wedge shot from behind the green at the 304-yard, par 4 fourteenth on the way to a bogey and White drove the green and birdied it.
“I had a bad lie — it was lying up against a twig — and I hit it fat,” Mabbett said of the errant wedge shot at No. 14.
Mabbett, however, then finished with a flurry as he reached the par 5 fifteenth in two for a birdie, made a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 16 and hit his approach shot through the trees at No. 18 to within 18 feet of the cup and made the putt to force the playoff.
“I hit it and it kind of went through the trees,” he said of his approach on 18 from the right tree line which ticked a branch coming out.
In the playoff, which started on No. 18, White teed off first and pulled his shot short and left into the tree line area.
“At the tee I didn’t know if it went beyond the trees and ran through to the (adjacent) fairway,” said White, who hit a similar shot in regulation at 18 that made it through to the adjacent fairway, allowing him to par the hole.
Mabbett, said White’s tee shot on the playoff hole didn’t change the way he was about to play the hole. He hit a 3-wood long and down the middle. When White reached his ball, he quickly realized, “I didn’t have any shot — I had to punch it back into the fairway.”
He did and left his approach just short of the green after Mabbett put his 12 feet above the hole. White didn’t make the putt and Mabbett got down in two as the tournament’s second playoff in a row and the third playoff in the last four years came to an end and the tournament gained it eighth consecutive first-time winner as well as a new modern-day, 36-hole record.
Mabbett (67-68—135) and White (67-68—135), blazed a path around the course, easily bettering the modern-day record of 140 — set by the late Mike Rivers (71-69—140) on the way to the 1998 championship and later matched by Ken Pullin (67-73—144) on the way to the 2007 championship — by an astounding five shots.
When the day started, the two — who will each be a freshman on a NCAA Division I college golf team this fall, Mabbett at Georgia Southern and White at Georgia State — were in a three-way tie for the lead with 2009 champ and 2010 runner-up Joey Tinsey at 5-under 67.
— No. 7, SHS GOLF TEAM WINS REGION, SETS RECORD: Henry Mabbett Jr. shot a low-medalist 68 and Davin White finished runner-up with a 69 as the Spalding High golf team stormed to the Region 4-AAA championship Monday with a school-record 289, a whooping 27 strokes ahead of their nearest competitor in the five-team field at the Canongate at Heron Bay Golf Club.
Mabbett set the tone early, sinking a 20-foot birdie putt on the first hole.
The Jags never looked back on their way to back-to-back region championships and their third region title in four years and fifth in seven years — the others coming in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
— No. 8, GRIFFIN HIGH FOOTBALL: Senior Eddrick Johnson ran for three touchdowns and sophomore quarterback Jaquez Parks ran for another and tossed three touchdowns – including one to classmate Dovontae Freeman with 2:21 left and another with :57 left – as Griffin rallied from a 9-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to stun Jonesboro 47-43 in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs at Tara Stadium to highlight another unforgettable season.
The Bears not only upped their school record run of consecutive state playoff berths to 11, they also broke new ground by winning a school-record fourth consecutive opening-round state playoff game (see aboe) for the first time ever in the team’s 101 years of existence.
— No. 9, SKIPSTONE SETS SCHOOL RECORD: The third-year Skipstone Academy football program, which had never won more than 3 games in a season, easily shattered the school record for wins in a season by posting 7 wins against 3 losses this season under the direction of first-year head coach Dan Salvador.
The Warriors, which played a non-region independent schedule, played mostly 8-man football but also had a game or two of 11-man football.
— No. 10, OVERTIME MAGIC: The then Cecil Spear-coached Spalding High boys basketball team pulled off a remarkable feat during the 2010-11 season — winning all 6 overtime games they played. Included in the run were wins against Drew 71-66, Pike County 53-47, Eastside 42-40, Stockbridge 59-58, Jackson 69-58 and Eagles Landing 66-65. Amazingly the Pike, Eastside, Stockbridge and Jackson wins came on the road.