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.
Kennesaw State University Football
Coach Brian Bohannon
“We’re excited about the opportunity to get back on the field. We had a lot of positives that first year, but we’re still nowhere near the expectations we have for this program. I credit our guys for putting in the work this spring and this summer to keep that edge, because we’re not going to sneak up on anyone in Year 2. This is a good freshman class coming in that will be a nice complement to our returning guys. Our staff has taken great pride in attracting quality student-athletes from Georgia, but specifically from the high school programs in our own backyard.” Photo courtesy Kyle Hess, KSUOwls.com
Etowah Cross Country
Coach Jesse Howard
The Etowah boys and girls cross country teams trained all summer in the hopes of returning to the state cross country meet for the sixth year in a row. This year’s team will be far younger than the last couple of years, since it lost many starting runners to graduation; of the runners who graduated, six seniors will continue running in college. Many athletes, who have never run a varsity race, will be asked to step up and contribute to the team immediately.
The Etowah boys’ team includes three returning state runners: Nick Cooke, Will McGonigle and Per Ellingson. Cooke, the team captain, is on pace to compete for all-region honors and should be ready to represent the Eagles at the state level.
The Etowah girls lost five varsity runners to graduation from last year’s team, which placed 10th in the state. This year’s team will rely heavily on Macki Walsh as it attempts to return to the state meet for the sixth year in a row. Walsh is currently ranked in the top five female high school runners in the state in the 5 kilometer distance. In the spring she placed third in the state track meet in the 3,200 meters. Other key contributors to watch are Jaylin Lucier and freshman Sydney Runyan.
Coach Victoria Brown
The future is bright for the Etowah Eagles softball team as it looks forward to the start of the 2016–17 season. The team has been focusing on communication and teamwork, two key ingredients for success throughout the upcoming season. The team is comprised of a large group of underclassmen who are looking to make a difference right out of the gate and bring a focused, determined feel to the team. Their youth will be balanced by the returning upperclassmen that bring experience, poise and competitiveness to the field. Seniors Lexi Palazzo, Taylor Shannon and Morgan Dozier will do their part to help the team return to last year’s playoff success in the sweet 16 run.
The season ahead is filled with fierce competition against many of the top teams in the state. Participation in tournaments such as the Allatoona Bash and the Elite Sports Classic hosted by Grayson High School will provide great competition and an opportunity for the team to improve. The team will begin its season with a scrimmage on Aug. 7 against Creekview High School. Changes to the region schedule this year will provide the team with an opportunity to play each region team in a home and away series prior to beginning the region tournament. The regular season concludes with senior night on Sept. 27 against Walton High School.
Coach Kim Robertson
After completing the most successful season in many years, the 2016 Lady Eagles volleyball team is expecting another great season. Last year’s team went 41-11, captured the county championship and reached the final four before losing the state championship to Walton High School. This season we will be competing in the new 7A classification representing Area 4. This includes Etowah, Cherokee, Lassiter, Roswell, Walton and Woodstock high schools.
The Lady Eagles lost eight seniors to graduation, but there is a good nucleus of returning and upcoming talent that should make for an exciting season. Returning to lead the charge will be juniors, all-area hitter, Nicole Ferris and setter, Jessie Cohen. Their A5 team recently won the AAU national championship this summer in Orlando. Also returning are senior hitter Taylor Gilkey, and junior defensive players Savannah Kopp and Mckenna Redmond. The team is adding nine newcomers who are expected to make an immediate impact. They will provide height and young talent, which should make for an exciting season. The first home matches will be Aug. 12 and 13.
Coach Dave Svehla
2016 looks to be an interesting year at Etowah. We are excited to be playing in a new, smaller region that has allowed us to schedule some great non-region games. In addition to our five region games, we have added Campbell, Newnan, Milton, North Cobb, and, as a first for our school (and maybe the county?), an out-of-state team with Spartanburg High School out of South Carolina.
We lost some very good players from our 2015 team, including three starting defensive linemen and a linebacker. However, we do return three-year starter Tyray Devezin, two-year starters Stuart Head, Alan Michael Harris and Blaine Miller, as well as one-year starters Collin Mitchell, and Mohamed Salame to anchor the defense. Offensively, we return four starting linemen in Nick Johnson, Joel Happel, Matt Morgan and Colton Hunter, as well as quarterback Patrick Ferris, bone back Jackson Sisk, running back Tyray Devezin, and receiver Blake Jones. Cameron Allen returns to do the kicking and punting duties.
Like most schools, we need depth, and we also need some younger players to step up and fill in for our 2015 graduates. Jake Weitkamp and Joe Vicznesky will have opportunities at linebacker, while Tristan Bernard and Braxton McCallum look to find time on the defensive line. Quamie Dawkins is a leading candidate at the corner position. Offensively, Kai Lewis is the top contender at fullback, while the fifth spot on the offensive line remains up for grabs.
We have made some scheme changes in the offseason, and we hope that those changes will allow us to be more competitive. The county teams are strong and well-coached, and our skill set requires that we be fundamentally sound to have a chance to win. If we do that, we will at least be in the game with most of the teams on our schedule.
Woodstock Cross Country
Coach Kirk Scharich
We are excited to roll out the cross country season this fall. 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 the season off 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 working hard in the offseason and 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 as part of the team’s commitment to serve others.
Coach Dempsey is looking forward to the upcoming season and welcomes two new assistant coaches to the team. 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 to begin and are working hard to earn another return to the state playoffs. Over 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 this year 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 also return, led by Louis Hall who was second team all-state in his sophomore season. Hall broke 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. Latrell Bankston will be applying the pressure to the opponent’s quarterback. The junior nose guard is a force up front. 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 defensive 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 ever. The Wolverines also will play North Forsyth and Kennesaw Mountain high schools along with in-county rival Sequoyah High School.
Coach Helen Lane
Coach Helen Lane said, “I am extremely honored and proud to be the head cheerleading coach at Woodstock High School. I am very excited about the upcoming cheerleading season. Our sidelines 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 that are excited to cheer on the football players under the Friday night lights. The community is invited to cheer with them every week, but especially at this year’s homecoming game on Oct. 7 against crosstown rival Etowah High School.
The competition program is introducing a new junior varsity competition squad this year. Anna Grantham and Samantha 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.